In an attempt to reinstate religion in schools, Oklahoma lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow teachers to educate students about Christmas and Hanukkah, and would have public schools observe “traditional winter celebrations.”
Two bills, HB 2316 and HB 2317, “permit school districts to display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations,” which the co-sponsors of the bill define to mean Christmas and Hanukkah. The language also states that any religious scene must also depict at least one other religious or secular icon.
The author of the two bills explained the rationale behind the legislation:
“The purpose of the Oklahoma Merry Christmas bill is to put a beacon of light, a safe harbor, if you will, in the pages of statutes so that our children … and our parents can run to a lighthouse whose light shines boldly on the pages of Oklahoma’s law books and declares that they have a right to express their core beliefs and celebrate winter traditions without fear of lawsuit, retribution or reprisal,” said Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, during a Capitol press conference.
Texas passed a similar “Merry Christmas Bill” earlier this year in hopes of preventing potential lawsuits against schools that insisted on holding Christian-themed ceremonies.
Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the preferential treatment of a religious holiday on public property violated the constitution. The Oklahoma bills would require the school the observe two religious holidays.
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