Re­li­gious bat­tle rages over “Char­lie Brown Christ­mas”

Bi­ble quote by Li­nus was posted on door of nurse’s o∞ce

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Katie Met­tler

killeen, texas» In the clas­sic hol­i­day TV spe­cial “A Char­lie Brown Christ­mas,” the main Peanuts char­ac­ter, sad­dened by the over-com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Dec. 25, de­cides to di­rect a play.

But when his class­mates push him to mod­ern­ize the pro­duc­tion and mock his sparse Christ­mas tree, Char­lie Brown, ex­as­per­ated, shouts: “Isn’t there any­one who knows what Christ­mas is all about?”

Li­nus, his thumb-suck­ing and blan­ket-tot­ing best friend, speaks up.

“Sure, Char­lie Brown,” he says. “I can tell you what Christ­mas is all about.”

Then the char­ac­ter re­cites a lengthy Bi­ble pas­sage, from the sec­ond chap­ter of the Gospel of Luke, when an­gels de­scend upon the flock-tend­ing shep­herds to an­nounce the birth of Je­sus.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Sav­ior which is Christ the Lord,” Li­nus says. “That’s what Christ­mas is all about, Char­lie Brown.”

It is that quote, ex­tracted from the spe­cial’s most overtly Chris­tian scene, that has thrust a Texas mid­dle school nurse’s aid, the school district she works for and the state at­tor­ney gen­eral into a very A Bi­ble quote by Li­nus, right, from the Peanuts tele­vi­sion spe­cial “A Char­lie Brown Christ­mas” has thrust a Texas mid­dle school into a very pub­lic — and un­sea­son­ably bit­ter — de­bate over “re­li­gious lib­erty.” CBS pub­lic — and un­sea­son­ably bit­ter — de­bate over what “re­li­gious lib­erty” means in­side the walls of the state’s pub­lic schools.

The bat­tle be­gan last week, when De­dra Shan­non, a nurse’s aid at Pat­ter­son Mid­dle School in Killeen, scrawled that Li­nus quote on a 6-foot tall poster, added a cutout of the char­ac­ter and the fa­mously sparse Christ­mas tree, and taped it to the nurse’s of­fice door.

On Dec. 7, the prin­ci­pal asked Shan­non to re­move the Li­nus quote or take down the poster al­to­gether.

On Dec. 8, Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton said that man­date was “an at­tack on re­li­gious lib­erty.”

In the days that fol­lowed, Shan­non re­tained le­gal coun­sel from Texas Val­ues, a non­profit law firm that stands for “bi­b­li­cal, JudeoChris­tian val­ues” and pro­motes “faith, fam­ily and free­dom in Texas,” ac­cord­ing to its web­site. Texas Val­ues sent a let­ter to the board of the Killeen In­de­pen­dent School District school Mon­day, which the at­tor­ney gen­eral fol­lowed with his own let­ter Tues­day, the day the board planned to dis­cuss the or­deal.

On Thurs­day a Texas judge ordered the district to re­store the dec­o­ra­tion with an added line call­ing it “Ms. Shan­non’s Christ­mas mes­sage.”

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