A Kentucky elementary school made the decision to censor this year’s Christmas play, which is a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The administration at the W.R. Castle Elementary School in rural Johnson County, Kentucky ordered all religious references be removed from the play, and any other Christmas plays in the district. Teachers, parents, and students were all in shock over the decision to remove crucial parts from the production. Fox News reports the original version of the traditional Christmas carol, “Silent Night,” was replaced with a Christmas version of the “Whip/Nae Nae” song. No, we are not lying.
“How do you go from ‘Silent Night’ to the ‘Whip/Nae Nae,’ ” one student’s grandmother told the news station. “We’re not at all happy about it.”
If you will recall, there is one scene particularly that contains a reference to Christianity. The moving scene shows Linus, the little boy who always packed around his blanky, sharing the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, by reading a passage from the Gospel of Luke: “Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger. And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’ ” Linus then says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Teachers at the Kentucky elementary school were told to remove this scene in its entirety. The decision, which has upset the community, was made after a single complaint.
After receiving backlash for his decision, Superintendent Tom Salyer explained why he chose to have the play censored, saying he was just going on the advice of the school district’s attorneys.
“In accordance with federal laws, our programs will follow appropriate regulations. The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are very clear that public school staff may not endorse any religion when acting in their official capacities and during school activities,” Salyer wrote on the district’s website. “However, our district is fully committed to promote the spirit of giving and concern for our fellow citizens that help define the Christmas holiday. With core values such as service, integrity, leadership, and commitment, our staff and students will continue to proudly represent our district as recently demonstrated by our many student successes.”
The news of the censoring of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” caught the attention of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that is devoted to tackling religious liberty issues. On Thursday, the firm sent a letter to the Johnson County school district, asking them to ignore the complaint and let the play go on as it was originally written.
“Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow students to perform a classic Christmas production simply because it contains biblical references,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. ” ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ has become an iconic Christmas story and tradition. Are school officials going to start demanding that other classic productions, such as Shakespearean plays, be censored just because they contain religious references?”
“There is no violation of the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ by allowing children to learn about theater and the origins of Christmas through participating in a stage version of this beloved program that contains the same religious elements as the television version …”, the letter continued. “Given that courts have consistently held that schools may organize and sponsor Christmas programs and performances that include religious songs and study the historical origins of Christmas, there is no basis for the District’s decision to censor the religious aspects of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ ”
According to the Kentucky Herald Leader, more than 30 people, including members of the Light of Christ Church at Staffordsville, protested the censoring of the play on Monday. On Tuesday, that number had dropped by a third.