More Center Fights Bans on Christmas Music and Symbolism

This Christmas season did not pass without opposition to Christianity and Christmas. The Thomas More Law Center has been fighting the government and education elites of this nation, who try to limit the religious freedom of individuals.

One story is a controversial music policy, which was adopted by the Maplewood Public School District in New Jersey banning traditional Christmas music including instrumentals.

The lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center explains that the Maplewood policy was implemented to ban students and student groups form playing traditional Christmas music at events during the 2004 holiday season. Groups such as the Martin Luther King Gospel Choir and the Brass Ensemble were banned from performing any traditional Christmas songs and carols.

This policy is now the target of a federal lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center. The lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of Michael Stratechuk and his two children, who are students in the New Jersey School District, and it claims that the policy is unconstitutional.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed the federal civil rights lawsuit arguing that the total ban on religious music conveys a message of government-sponsored disapproval of and hostility toward religion, which is "impermissible," stated a press release from the More Center.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center said, “This is another example of the anti-Christmas, anti-religion policy infecting our public school system. The constitution does not require our public schools to become religion–free zones. Forcing students to strip all religious content from music is like asking them to study art history while excluding paintings from the Renaissance because they contain religious subjects.”

In addition, the More Center argues that because the religious music is banned from the public schools, students are denied the ability to learn about and listen to music that has influenced the development of civilization.

A similarly preposterdous ban on Christmas took place in Florida, where Town officials earlier this month denied resident Sandra Snowden to display a Nativity scene. The ruling for this case was fortunately positive. Federal Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled Wednesday, December 15th that the Town of Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, must allow the display of the Christian Nativity.

The Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against Town officials on behalf of Sandra Snowden who wished to display the scene on public property.

Judge Altonaga ruled that Snowden had shown a substantial likelihood of success that the Town had violated the establishment clause in 2001 through 2003 by displaying only Jewish religious symbols, to the exclusion of Christian symbols, during the December holiday seasons.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center commented on the ruling, “We are pleased with Judge Altonaga’s quick response to our request that Sandra be allowed to display a Nativity scene this Christmas. This is a great example of what can happen when Christians stand up for their right to celebrate Christmas in public.”

In her ruling on Wednesday, Judge Altonaga’s explained that Snowden had shown a substantial likelihood of success on her free speech and equal protection claims and that Snowden may display her Nativity scene this Christmas season on Causeway Island in the Town of Bay Harbor Islands where the Town has allowed a local synagogue’s Menorah to be displayed each holiday season since December 2001.

The lawsuit claims that for the past several years during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Town of Bay Harbor Islands has adorned the lampposts lining its main street with Jewish religious symbols of Menorahs and Stars of David, etc. Yet, every request by Sandra Snowden to display Nativity scenes purchased with her own money in a similar manner during the Christmas season, had been denied by Town officials.

Previous court cases had established that the importance of recognizing religious holidays and ordered Palm Beach to treat all religious symbols equally.