Written by Don Byrd
As we approach the holidays, I am already bracing for stories of improper religious displays on government property, religious pageants at public schools, and other battles generally in the War on Christmas. Between the advocates who raise concerns about government’s religious displays on one side and advocates on the other side who raise concerns about government rejecting religious displays, the holidays can be a heady time for a religious liberty news junkie like me.
For a public school parent it can be an especially troubling period. One atheist parent, location unknown, asked an Ask A Teacher panel at Slate how to handle these concerns:
We moved to a new state and a new school this year, and I am not sure if I should do or say anything about my first grade daughter’s teacher. I’m about as liberal as you can be, and our first-grader’s teacher is … not. She has sent the kids home with lanyards that read “God is Great,” and it’s a public school. I’m not religious, and I am very uncomfortable with this kind of thing. The school is also hosting a Christmas pageant (where the songs will almost all be nonreligious, but still).
I don’t know what to do. At our old school, I would have no problem saying something because I knew the game and the players. But here, I’m friendless and unsure if rocking the boat on this issue is a good idea. Do I say something to the teacher? The principal? Someone on the school board (it’s a very small community)? Or do I just let it go?
How would you advise this parent? Coming forward to bring a church-state complaint on behalf of your child can, I’m sure, be a decision fraught with anxiety. And yet in many school districts across the country, it would seem that it takes someone willing to risk making waves to convince school officials to do the right thing and curtail overtly religious promotion by a teacher.
See how one teacher on Slate’s Ask a Teacher panel replied here.