I may not like their point, but they’ve got one:
A Little Rock church has cancelled a student matinee performance of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” after critics complained the show was too religious and therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“It is not our desire to put hard-working, sacrificial teachers and cast members in harm’s way,” said Happy Caldwell, pastor of Agape Church, in a statement to Fox News. “While we regret the loss of students who will not get this particular opportunity right now, we have taken the school matinees off the table.”
The cancellation came as the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers told television station KATV they had received legal advice on pursuing a possible lawsuit against the Little Rock School District.
“We’re not waging a war,” said LeeWood Thomas, a spokesman for the group. “We’re basically calling a foul against the separation of church and state.”
A spokesperson for the school district told Fox News they had absolutely nothing to do with the cancellation of the performance. They said they had consulted with their legal team and determined the field trip was appropriate.
Students at Terry Elementary School had been planning to attend a school-day field trip to watch a stage version of the holiday classic — hosted by the church. The event was strictly voluntary and teachers sent home letters explaining the purpose of the trip.
“The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state — it oversteps it entirely,” attorney Anne Orsi told Arkansas Matters.
Now, I would have let them go. But to say that Charlie Brown’s Christmas does not contain a religious message—a central Christian tenet—is just not true.
At least the original one did:
I was raised by a Jewish atheist and a Protestant atheist, so I didn’t get any of this at home. Even more than atheistic, they were scornful of religion, and dismissive of people who weren’t.
But Linus got to me. I didn’t get everything he said, this being new to me and this being the King James version, but the language hinted at something profound, mystical, miraculous—a force I didn’t recognize reaching a part of my psyche I didn’t know I had. More than Christmas carols, which told the same story and which we sang freely in school back in the day, more than the same scripture recited by anyone else, Linus, my favorite character, he who was without sin (blanket addiction not rising to the level of sin), reciting these lines in a plain, unaffected voice, the voice of a boy—my voice then—that was very powerful stuff.
And dangerous. For while I am not a religious man, I am open to it, curious about it, respectful of it—even a little envious of others who have it (though not enough to rise to the level of sin). My parents would die if they knew.
And so would these parents.
But then, they better not expose their adorable little atheist offspring to this, either:
I’m not Jewish, but I understand Jewish friends of mine who get a little tired of the relentlessness of the Christmas message (to the extent we still allow that message in this Happy Holidays world of ours). And I’m not Christian, either, so this is not a plea to those of other faiths (or no faith) to accept as theirs a message that is foreign to them.
It’s just to be open to the magic and the spirit of the season, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa—or ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah!
You may get a little religion on you, but don’t worry, it doesn’t stick.
And because you’ve been nice (and not naughty) boys and girls this year: