Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill June 13 that will protect the rights of individuals to offer greetings and display religious symbols on school property during Christmas and other holiday seasons. The new law is designed to protect individuals and groups from legal challenges to what the bill's author, State Rep. Wayne Bohac, says is a First Amendment protected right to religious expression. Bohac introduced H.B. 308, dubbed the “Merry Christmas Bill,” after his son's school displayed a “holiday tree” rather than a Christmas tree because school officials feared a lawsuit from one of the secular grievance groups known for attacking communities and school districts over contrived First Amendment concerns.
“I am proud to have authored the 'Merry Christmas Bill' which allows students, parents, teachers, and administrators the freedom to acknowledge traditional winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah in Texas public schools without fear of litigation or punishment,” Bohac said in a statement. “Teachers and [school districts] have enough on their plate, and worrying about openly celebrating a Federal holiday and getting sued or reprimanded should not be one of them.”
Bohac recalled that “when I picked up my six-year-old first grader from school and found out school districts and teachers felt pressured by political correctness to change the way they referred to ‘Christmas trees’ and Santa and holiday music, I had enough. H.B. 308 protects schools and teachers from ridiculous litigation and restores common sense by placing Supreme Court precedent into Texas Law.”
Gov. Perry, who signed the bill in a high-profile ceremony that included sleigh bell-ringing Santas and other Christmas motifs, told those assembled for the event that “I realize it's only June, but it's a good June and the holidays are coming early this year. It's a shame a bill like this one I'm signing today is even required, but I'm glad that we're standing up for religious freedom in this state.”
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