View Full Version : Mustang Schools vs. Religion

12-13-2004, 01:45 AM
I'm sure by now, all of you have heard about the Mustang Schools fiasco. If you haven't heard, Mustang Schools Superintendent decided to pull the manger from a school play to avoid a lawsuit, but strangely, he left the scenes celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Residents in Mustang are outraged and have threatened to vote down the school bond issue on the ballot this week. Also, they've threatened not to renew the superintendent's contract when it's up.

Personally, I think the superintendent made some huge mistakes. He should've either kept all of the religious scenes, or booted all of them.

Anyways, what do you guys think? Obvious, he made a bad decision either way you look at it.

12-13-2004, 01:48 AM
"Mustang residents protest nativity ban

By Sarah Kahne
The Oklahoman

MUSTANG - "No Christ. No Christmas. Know Christ. Know Christmas."
That was the sign held Thursday by a protester outside Mustang High School.

A community's outrage over the elimination of a nativity scene from a fifth-grade Christmas play was displayed in a quiet and reverent protest.

A manger with a baby nestled in the hay was surrounded by Mary, Joseph, a shepherd and wise men played by members of the community just outside the auditorium where Lakehoma Elementary students performed the revised version of their Christmas play.

The participants sang a solemn rendition of "Silent Night" on private property adjacent to the school while parents and students arrived for the play.

Onlookers stopped either because of curiosity or to show support for the protest. Drivers honked to show their support as they drove into the parking lot of the school.

Organizers estimated about 100 people showed up to protest banning the nativity scene from a play that celebrated Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and secular holiday rituals, but ignored the Christian element of Christmas.

Leann Williams protested alongside her two children who attend Lakehoma.

She said she was very upset over the decision to eliminate the nativity scene.

"You can't take Christ out of the season," she said. "If they wanted to eliminate the Christian element, they should have taken out Kwanzaa and Hanukkah."

Rich Schompert, who played the part of a wise man, said he decided to get involved in the grass-roots protest because God is eliminated too much from society.

"We'd have a lot less problems in the world if we had more Jesus," he said.

Parent Jamie Bolton said word of the school's decision spread like wildfire Tuesday, prompting her to hire a lawyer to fight the school's decision.

She said she's hired attorney Brently Olsson and will be filing a lawsuit against the school district.

"I just want to ensure this isn't going to happen again," she said. "If they're going to allow witches (in the play), then they should be able to include Jesus."

School officials said Thursday they stood by their decision to eliminate the nativity scene, citing separation of church and state.

Superintendent Karl Springer said the decision to eliminate the nativity scene from the annual holiday play was based on a legal opinion by the school district's attorney deeming the nativity inappropriate.

He said he appreciated parents wanting the children to be able to participate in a play that promotes the true meaning of Christmas, but unfortunately, a public school was not the appropriate place for such a performance.

Parent Nancy Harris said she couldn't agree with the school's decision.

"We're here because we're Christians and we live in the community," she said. "It's important for our schools to be a direct reflection of the community."

12-13-2004, 01:51 AM
"Nativity ban upsets residents

By Sarah Kahne
The Oklahoman

MUSTANG - Residents plan to stage a silent protest during Lakehoma Elementary's annual Christmas performance after school officials decided to ban a nativity scene.
NEWS 9 report

Councilman Scott Gibson said Wednesday that concerned parents and community members are staging a nativity scene on private property across from the Mustang High School auditorium where the production is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. today

"They've used this nativity scene in the Christmas play every year," Gibson said, putting emphasis on the pronunciation of "Christ."

"We're letting the tail wag the dog. Even within the secular community, Christ is one of the most recognized individuals in history," Gibson said.

In an e-mail obtained by The Oklahoman, Lakehoma Principal Sondra Bivens wrote: "We do not want to appear as if we are exerting any influence on the students toward any religious belief. Therefore, please do not have anything in your classrooms or programs that have a religious connotation regardless of the religion -- Jewish, Muslim, Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, etc."

In a second e-mail, Bivens clarified the message and said portions of the play that included the menorah, a Jewish candelabra used in the celebration of Hanukkah, and other religious symbols are acceptable, but the nativity scene at the end of the play is not.

Gibson said he is not clear on why the school is choosing some religious symbols over others.

Superintendent Karl Springer said the decision to eliminate the nativity scene at the end of the program was based on a recommendation from the school district's attorney.

He said a Christmas tree with a nativity scene displayed would be fine, but to have children playing out the roles of Mary, Joseph and the wise men is different.

Springer cited constitutional issues, including separation of church and state, as reasoning behind the decision to delete the nativity scene from the portion of the program.

"We can't tell people how to believe," Springer said. "As a Christian, I can't think of a more powerful vignette than displaying the true meaning of Christmas, but it's inappropriate for a public school to do in this setting."

According to a legal opinion which attorney Phyllis Walta issued, several cases involving the display of religious symbols have been heard in courts in other states. Walta wrote that several courts have determined that religious symbols are acceptable if they neither advance or inhibit religion.

Courts in New York and Pennsylvania have determined that a Christmas tree is an adequate reflection of Christianity and the failure to include a nativity scene did not promote one religion over another.

Springer said the decision to eliminate the nativity scene was not in response to a complaint, but simply a response to a concern that a school principal voiced.

Resident Alan Berkley said the decision to eliminate the program is out of line.

"I think it's a joke," Berkley said. "I don't know if it's a legal move or not."

Berkley said he may contact the American Center for Law and Justice about the issue."

12-13-2004, 01:56 AM
This seems to be somewhat of a resolution to the story:

"Mustang schools, group to set holiday guidelines

By Ken Raymond
The Oklahoman

MUSTANG - School officials and a ministers' group have agreed to work together to form new -- and less controversial -- guidelines about holiday celebrations.
The agreement came a day after concerned parents and community members protested Lakehoma Elementary's Christmas performance, forming a living nativity scene across the street from Mustang High School.

A nativity scene had been cut from the school's performance at the recommendation of the school district's attorney.

Friday, the Mustang Ministerial Alliance issued a written statement saying it was "saddened and disappointed that the children of our community have been denied an expression of their religious heritage."

The statement called for "believers in our community to stand up and be counted" and sought the creation of a community action group to "bring organization, education and reason" to discussions about the issue.

Superintendent Karl Springer said he will meet with the ministers' group after the holidays and hopes to have a new policy in place by the end of the school year.

"I look forward to working with them in the formation of the committee they're talking about," Springer said, "and also in the formulation of a district policy ... regarding religious symbols and celebrations so that nothing like this happens in the Mustang School District again."

Controversy erupted when the nativity scene was removed from the annual holiday program, while symbols associated with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were allowed to remain.

At the heart of the issue is the U.S. Supreme Court's complex reading of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion to all Americans, regardless of their faiths. Under court rulings, certain items -- such as Christmas trees and menorahs, or Jewish candelabras -- are acceptable as secular seasonal icons at public schools, while others are not.

"For instance, it may be permissible to have students act out a play which contains one scene where a family is shown opening presents on Christmas morning," according to an online pamphlet from the national Anti-Defamation League. "However, school sponsorship of a play about the birth of Jesus would be impermissible because such performances are inherently affirmations of a certain religious point of view."

Jim Harris, pastor at Clear Springs Free Will Baptist Church and a member of the ministerial group, said other interpretations of the law seem to make nativity scenes acceptable.

"We do believe that a mistake was made in that they went overboard in throwing out the nativity," Harris said of the school performance. "There are brief references ... to Kwanzaa, to the menorah with the Jewish faith, a few passing references to Christmas, but not much more than that from a Christian perspective."

He said his group is aware of the legal constraints the school district is bound by, but hopes to find a compromise.

Springer agreed.

"These are fine people in this community," he said. "They're concerned, and I understand that. I just wish this could've gone a different way."

El Gato Pollo Loco!!!
12-13-2004, 01:57 AM
Superintendent Karl Springer said the decision to eliminate the nativity scene from the annual holiday play was based on a legal opinion by the school district's attorney deeming the nativity inappropriate
Ummm...this is inapropriate but Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are in a public school? Yeah...and I got some oceanfront property in Montana I'd like to get off my hands...

I just think that people are too sensitive for the wrong reasons when it comes to things like this.

12-13-2004, 02:19 AM
I agree.......I think people were more outraged with the fact that he allowed other religious symbols to be included but not Christian symbols. So much for Separation of Church and State. Seems like it's strictly anti-Christianity in this case. Either they need to include all of the religious holidays arond this time, or none at all. Cutting out the true reason for Christmas is a little ridiculous, in my opinion.

12-13-2004, 07:21 AM
When I was a kid, and even beyond High School, you never heard any organization argue against singing traditional Christmas songs in school plays. Although fiction, look at "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It ws released in 1965 and featured a resitation of the meaning of Christmas... Told at an elementry school Christmas play. If this work of art had been produced today, would it air? Probably not. The ACLU would brand it to religiously infuential for our children, and sue CBS to block it.

Some schools did the traditional birth of Christ, while others did recitals which included a variety of songs, both religious and whimsical. I remember singing "Up on a rooftop" when I was eight.

The point is. Although I am not what many would call religious, however, I do believe in the right of people to hear those songs. Many I enjoy. I do not believe a liberal natzi organization like the ACLU has the right to take that away. What is next? Putting someone in prison because the expressions they use do not meet the approval of the ACLU? I though we were in the land of the free. The United State of America. Not the communist block where everything is dictated.

To quote Chris Rock from "Head of State." "THAT AIN'T RIGHT!"

12-13-2004, 08:49 AM
Alright, now it is time for me to jump on the bandwagon. I have had enough of these people who are trying to kick Christ out of Christmas.

"I just think that people are too sensitive for the wrong reasons when it comes to things like this."

I believe in the statement above. Christ is Christmas. For those who refuse to believe this or to accept it, I suggest that they back off and allow us to enjoy this holiday.

Many non-Christians have already been successful at getting the 10 Commandments, prayer time, and the Bible out of the schools, and look at our schools now :eek: ? Metal detectors, drugs, weapons, lack of respect, etc....

As long as the Mustang schools are keeping symbols of other religious denominations on display, then they need to keep the symbol of the real reason we have celebrate the birth of Christ. :Smiley173