Texas Governor signs ‘Merry Christmas bill’ into law

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AUSTIN, Texas —  Teachers in Texas can start dusting off their Christmas trees for classroom display, or a menorah if they wish. Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law what has been termed as the “Merry Christmas bill” by its sponsor, Texas  Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston). In effect, the law states that a school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations such as: “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Holidays.”

Furthermore, a school district may display scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations. This includes a menorah or Christmas tree, as long as the scene includes more than one religion or at least one religion and a secular scene. The bill does have a caveat that the display may not include a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.

The law will go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year. Bohac said that the idea for the bill originated when he heard that his son’s first grade class had made a ‘holiday tree’. He said upon investigation that he believed the school was fearful it would face litigation for using any religious terms.

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