Thursday, December 24, 2015

Good Grief! School Censors Linus Van Pelt's Meaning of Christmas Part to Be Politically Correct

The kids at W.B. Castle Elementary School in Wittensville, Kentucky was slated to perform a Charlie Brown Christmas as part of their Christmas were slated to perform a Charlie Brown Christmas as part of their Christmas Pageant.  But Johnson County School Superintendent Thomas Salyer issued a memo which directed schools to avoid endorsing an particular religion in their holiday performances.  

While Superintendent Salyer would permit Christmas plays, the public official delineated the acceptable civil credo:  “The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are official capacities and during school activities. However, our district is fully committed to promote the spirit of giving and concern for our fellow citizens that help define the Christmas holidays.”

In short, this meant that W.B. Castle Elementary School Principal Jeff Cochran the Linus Van Pelt monologue which recites Luke 2:8-14 which reveals the true meaning of Christmas. 

Parents would not take the Christmas censorship sitting down.  There were a few days of protest at the Johnson County (KY) Schools Headquarters in Paintsville.  Glenn Beck  blasted  the District's decision to censor A Charlie Brown Christmas on his national radio show. Beck suggested:

I would get together with parents and I would — if I knew this was coming — take the script of what Linus actually says and I would stand up as a block of parents and just stop the show and just all of us at that point, ‘Doesn’t anybody know what Christmas is all about?’ And all of the parents stand up and just start saying it, even as the play is going on.

In fact, some in the crowd did just that, reciting the Lukian nativity narrative at the climax of the childrens' play. Principal Jeff Conrad lamented: "[T]here were a few more lines in the play, and that was the end of it. I wish that they had let the kids do the play.”   So for Cochran, it seems the pageant was just a Kodak moment for proud parents watching their tykes get dressed up and perform and damn the content or the reason for the season.

Is it any wonder that America is being culturally hollowed out?  Americans seem to appreciate the trappings of Christmas but are discouraged from sharing the true meaning of the Yuletide cheer in public and schools had better not expose their wards  to learning least they be considered less inclusive. 

This year marked the 50 anniversary of the first broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas". The story touches on over-commercialization and the secularization of Christmas. Ironically, the school district's censorship of the key passage underscores the contemporary relevance of the cultural icon. 

It was controversial, even in the mid 1960s to have a religiously themed Christmas television special. Producer Bill Mendelson was worried about quoting scripture in the script.  But Mendelson recalled: 

The first thing Schulz had said was, "If we can talk about what I feel is the true meaning of Christmas, based on my Midwest background' — he was a real student of the Bible — 'It would really be worth doing.' If we hadn't gone that way, we wouldn't have done the show.”
So it is gratifying that the Kentucky parents honored the true meaning of Christmas by telling about the miracle of the Incarnation, despite derision and official obstacles. 

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