Myth: Students cannot talk about their faith and the religious origins of Christmas in class assignments.
Fact: Schools can’t refuse to allow, punish, or give a lower grade to a student who includes a religious viewpoint in a class assignment. Far from “establishing religion,” that would be displaying an anti-religious bias, which is unconstitutional and infringing on the free speech of students.
Myth: Teachers cannot display a “Christmas tree” in the classroom.
Fact: No court has ruled that “Christmas” is unconstitutional. In fact, The Supreme Court has acknowledged the governments long-standing recognition of holidays with religious significance, such as Christmas.
Myth: School choirs and bands cannot use churches as venues, because of the “separation of church and state.”
Fact: Voluntary performances at a church do not promote religion. “Courts have unanimously allowed students to sing Christmas carols in school. Nothing changes when they sing the same Christmas songs at a community festival instead,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
Myth: Students cannot give their classmates gifts that reference the Christian origins of the holiday.
Fact: The Supreme Court has never ruled that public schools must prohibit the distribution of religious Christmas messages. For example, a H.S. that forbade a student from giving out candy canes to friends with a note that described the Christian legend, later granted the student permission when ADF informed the principal of this fact.
“Our first real Christmas as a nation was the dark and freezing Christmas of 1776, when George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware. They and Providence gave our nation its first Christmas gift – a victory that brought us closer to liberty, the condition in which God meant man to flourish.” President Ronald Reagan, 1984
Myth: Public school students aren’t allowed to sing or play Christmas carols.
Fact: Students can sing and perform religious carols along with secular ones. The purpose is to teach about our society’s cultural and religious heritage and allow students to perform a full range of music, poetry and drama.
Myth: Teachers and students are banned from saying “Merry Christmas.”
Fact: The Supreme Court stated that teachers and students do not shed their right of free speech at the schoolhouse gate. Saying a simple greeting does not violate the First Amendment Establishment Clause.
Myth: Public schools cannot display religious Christmas symbols.
Fact: A public school is free to display a Nativity scene among other forms of religious and secular seasonal expression with the purpose of depicting the origins of the holiday.
Myth: Students cannot hand out invitations to a Christmas party held at their church.
Fact: When students are allowed to pass out invitations to birthday parties and other events, the courts have ruled that First Amendment free speech rights are guaranteed to even young students.
The Little Sisters of the Poor are returning to court to defend themselves against lawsuits from Pennsylvania and California that seek to take away the nuns’ recently received conscience exemption from the Health and Human Services (HHS) rule. In October, HHS had rolled back the Affordable Care Act’s federal mandate that employers must provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraception in their health insurance plans.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a critical First Amendment challenge to a California law that forces life-affirming pregnancy centers to advertise/promote abortions. Under threat of ruinous fines, the CA law requires pro-life pregnancy resource centers to post signs notifying patients where and how they can receive state taxpayer-funded abortions. The law applies to hundreds of privately funded pregnancy centers and medical clinics.
“California’s threat … counts among the most flagrant violations of constitutional religious and free speech rights in the nation,” said pro-life NIFLA founder.
“Forcing anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry is unthinkable – especially when the government is doing the forcing,” said Alliance Defending Freedom. “The state should protect freedom of speech and freedom from coerced speech. Information about abortion is just about everywhere, so the government doesn’t need to punish pro-life centers for declining to advertise for the very act they can’t promote.”
“If you can’t force the American Lung Associate to promote cigarettes and tell people to buy them, you certainly can’t force pro-life organizations to direct people to taxpayer-subsidized abortions,” wrote Melanie Israel in the Daily Signal.
“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” George Washington
ALERT! Watch EWTN’s “Pro-Life Weekly” coverage of Catholics for Freedom of Religion
http://bit.ly/2jsvyCe the final 4 minutes of the show
The Departments of HHS, Treasury, and Labor, on Oct. 6, announced a Rule Protecting the Conscience Rights of All Americans that provides conscience protections to Americans who have a religious or moral objection to paying for health insurance that covers contraception/abortion services. The government appears to admit that it violated the law when it tried to force religious ministries, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to violate their faith. Under the new rule, the objectionable Health & Human Services (HHS) mandate will remain in place for most employers and will now include an exemption for religious ministries.
However, the Little Sisters still need permanent court protection to finally end their years-long lawsuit and go back to serving the elderly poor. Their case has been on hold ever since May, 2016, when the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the lower courts ruling against the Little Sisters, said the Little Sisters couldn’t be fined ($100/day per employee) and ordered the lower courts to find an accommodation acceptable to both parties. “Clearly, the Supreme Court understood the Sisters’ concern that the governments current scheme forces them to violate their religion,” said the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
In a related case, after years of litigation, on Oct. 11, the Department of Justice reached a settlement that marks relief for two similar ministries in relation to the HHS mandate.
“The last 3 years of litigation could have been avoided entirely if … administration had simply recognized that the First Amendment protects the rights of conscience of these religious ministries against an administration intent on coercing their obedience,” said First Liberty Institute.
(hhs.gov, 10/6/17; thelittlesistersofthepoor.com, 10/6/17; firstliberty.org, 11/10/17; westernjournalism.com, 5/16/17)