The holiday season is here again, and with it has come the predictable attacks on Nativity scenes, Christmas trees — and Charlie Brown? That's right, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, the theatrical adaptation of a Peanuts holiday cartoon children and families have enjoyed for years, is under attack from an atheist group that caught wind that an elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas, was going to take some of its students to see the play at a local church.
According to the Christian Post, teachers at Little Rock's Terry Elementary School sent a letter home duly warning parents that the play at nearby Agape Church might “expose your child to Christianity,” so “if you prefer your child to not attend the program they may stay at school.”
While the musical's storyline, which finds Peanuts mainstay Charlie Brown in search of the true meaning of Christmas, can hardly be termed an overt promotion of the Christian faith, it does include a scene in which Linus, another Peanuts regular, recites the Christmas story right out of the Gospel of Luke in an effort to shed light on the beginnings of the now-commercialized holiday.
Predictably, a parent or two took exception to the school taking their children to a church, and complained to the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, a state atheist group, which ludicrously warned the school district that the innocent field trip might in fact be a violation of the First Amendment's supposed separation of church and state clause. “We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown,” Anne Orsi, a spokesperson for the atheist group, assured local television station KARK. “The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state — it oversteps it entirely.” (The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....")
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