Lynn v. Sekulow

Lynn v. Sekulow


Halloween, Religion and the Public Schools

posted by Rev. Barry W. Lynn

Every year about this time Americans United starts getting calls about celebrations of Halloween in public schools.

They come from two kinds of people.  First, we get calls from Christians wondering why Pagans are able to get decorations and parties at schools around one of their holidays, but Christians can barely get a tree in the schoolhouse door in December, much less have a Christmas party.  Second, we get calls from Pagans and Wiccans wondering why their local schools are insulting their religious traditions by putting up ugly pictures of “witches” and acting like Halloween is just about loading your mouth with chocolate bars and gumdrops.

Do you get these calls, too?  Do both sides have a point?  Would you, Jay, suggest schools put up–oh, maybe– maps and math puzzles from October to January and leave black cats and pine trees out of the decor?



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James

posted October 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm


The reason schools happily celebrate Halloween is because it’s considered (by most of the public) a fun little time of year to dress up and exchange candy, not some Pagan/Wiccan holiday. I bet if you asked everyone in the US about the origins of Halloween, 9 out of 10 wouldn’t know or care. Ask the same question about Christmas and 9 out of 10 would know and care. That’s the difference.
Of course, since Halloween’s origins are ‘under the radar’ and isn’t considered a religious holiday by most (except the Pagans/Wiccans), all the “separation of church and staters” keep silent. Interesting, isn’t it?
Christians have the stronger point in this case.



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Your Name

posted October 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm


I just don’t think you can take Christmas out of the public schools or mall and the like.
What I was finding insulting was the fact that they (whoever makes the rules up) were letting everything but
Christmas into the public. I found it insulting that they would envoking some sort of 1rst Ammendment priviledge to take out the cross and anything of Christian value.
Meanwhile trying to put everything including murder in(abortion, morning after pill, Embryonic Stem-Cell and the like. So isn’t that interesting. Like minded religions which include everything but The Ten Commandments. How sad, but true.



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Kauko

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:07 pm


I think though that there are essentially 2 ‘halloweens’ one of those is a festival continuously observed by European peoples since pre-Christian times which later became a part of the Christian liturgical calender as All Saint’s Day, and has come into modern America as an essentially secular holiday that bears parts of all that heritage. The other Halloween is the festival of Samhain which is an attempt by modern Pagans to revive the original pre-Christian celebration that took place around this time of year. The two are not the same.
I also think its a bit hypocritical for Christians to cry ‘Pagan’ about Halloween and insist it shouldn’t be in schools, then turn around and insist that Christmas (which has Pagan roots equal to those of Halloween) should remain in school and view it being taken out as anti-Christian.



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grimsson

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm


Actually I think a good compromise has been reached. The symbols that schools display for Halloween (pumpkins, ghosts, witches, and tombstones) have about as much to do with Samhain as the symbols they display for Christmas (snowmen, Santa, trees, and reindeer) have to do with the birthday of Jesus.
Now, if Christians want to put Jesus back into the celebration of Christmas with their manger scenes and the like, then let Wiccans and other Pagans put Samhain into their celebration of Halloween with the Pentagram, Green Man and Goddess images.
And now, back to your regular political posturing.



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Ron

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm


Speaking for myself, as a Wiccan, Halloween, to me is a secular holiday at least that’s what it has evolved in to. I celebrate Samhain, which is religious holiday.
Conservative/Fundie Christians complain about everything that doesn’t meet their religious standards and beliefs, especially in the last 20 – 30 years. This is nothing new, as they’ll find something to complain about. Many holidays that Christians celebrate have their Pagan influences but that really doesn’t matter simply because over the years, these holidays have evolved into what Christians observe today and that’s ok too.
The old green-faced hags that are commonly put up are a cultural and movie created images of what most think of as being witches. Wrong/right, who knows but personally, I don’t care. It doesn’t insult me and I don’t pay attention to it either.
Honestly, for both holidays, leave out the religious aspects of both and have fun.
People can choose whether or not they want to recognize and celebrate these two holidays as either a secular or religious holiday. I just wish and would like to see people stop trying to shove their religious agendas down the public’s throat. It really has gotten old and is tiring.



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hootie1fan

posted October 22, 2009 at 10:35 am


You’d be surprised or not over how many of my fellow Chrsitians have no idea of the originas or many of our religious holidays. That early Christians incorporated local pagan holidays to make it easier converts almost as much as a shock to them as is the fact that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesusu Christ and NOT his actual birthday.You’d be surprised, or not, over how many of my fellow Christians have no idea of the origins or many of our religious holidays. That early Christians incorporated local pagan holidays to make it easier converts is almost as much as a shock to them as is the fact that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and NOT his actual birthday.



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hootie1fan

posted October 22, 2009 at 10:37 am


You’d be surprised, or not, over how many of my fellow Christians have no idea of the origins or many of our religious holidays. That early Christians incorporated local pagan holidays to make it easier converts is almost as much as a shock to them as is the fact that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and NOT his actual birthday.



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Bob Lu

posted October 22, 2009 at 3:48 pm


Actually I always think Halloween as a Christian holiday, or at least a heavily secularized Christian holiday adopted from pagan religion.
I think compare with Christmas, Halloween even better shows how different religions and tradition are intertwined and it is really hard to say if Halloween belongs to a specific religion, or if it is a religious holiday at all.
I sort of agree with what grimsson said, but have to point out that determing which element is religious and which is not is also a nearly mission impossible.



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SouthernMom

posted October 22, 2009 at 3:50 pm


Secular holidays are great for the morale of students, and to their bonding with classmates, however it is important that they be treated as secular holidays and opportunities for education, not opportunities to promote one faith while diminishing another. Negative caricatures of witches should certainly be omitted. Historical, cross-curriculum, arts and even civics lessons can evolve from discussion about any holiday. If this can’t be done then I’m all for putting up more maps, since knowledge of world geography in this country is almost as abysmal as knowledge of world religious and cultural evolution.



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b.

posted October 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm


At my daughter’s high school, they are making a big celebration about “Day of the Dead” festivities (Haloween). I wondered why this was being supported. Christian or not, Christmas should be a positive time for celebtating life and love of family.
Christians are constantly being bashed about cramming beliefs to others. That is really not true of most Christians as a whole. Just like many want tolerance for other things, society must be more tolerant of various religions. Would you be bashing the Muslims? I doubt anyone would, mostly out of fear. We all have Muslim neighbors, but no one bashes them (and they shouldn’t), non-believers only go after the Christians. All religions have a basic “code of ethics”. Christians are the only ones that speak up, that’s all.
Secondly, how many other religious organizations are helping those in need on a large scale, locally and around the world like the Christian organizations? Nobody talks about how much good the organizations do to help the poor, homeless and needy, but are quick to criticize them as “bad” and want Christians silenced. There are others, but do they get bashed like the Christians? No. How hypocritical.



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ErinM

posted October 22, 2009 at 5:19 pm


Halloween, like Christmas, wears a modern guise of a Christian holiday. Whatever the pagan roots of Samhain, October 31 is All Hallow’s Eve, the day before All Hallows, otherwise known as the Feast of All Saints (November 1). Like Christmas, a lot of the pagan imagery got mixed in, but most of the holiday’s continuing association with death comes from the Christian celebration of the sainted dead.
I personally think it’s time everyone got a grip about the holiday season. Pagan and Christian traditions have combined to give American culture some wonderful celebrations for the changing of the seasons, and with a little common sense, we can all enjoy them without pushing a religious agenda on anyone, or putting government employees into the business of endorsing religion.



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Blame The 1st

posted October 22, 2009 at 6:12 pm


“That early Christians incorporated local pagan holidays to make it easier converts is almost as much as a shock to them as is the fact that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and NOT his actual birthday.”
You mean Christmas really isn’t Jesus’ birthday? Oh the humanity! Oh the indignity of learning I’ve beening living a lie. My faith has been shattered.
Psyche! Yeah, I like most other Christians actual know about the secular origins of Christmas. Nice try, though. ;)



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DSJulian

posted October 22, 2009 at 7:30 pm


b.: “Christians are constantly being bashed about cramming beliefs to others. That is really not true of most Christians as a whole.”
What planet do you come from? Science standards are being challenged, parental privacy rights are being challenged, reproductive rights are being challenged, doctors are being murdered, attempts are being made to revise the history of our secular republic, and misguided judges are being told that the cross no longer represents Christ — all by Christian neofundamentalist groups trying to force their theology down the throats of everyone else.
I live in the State of Washington, where every year in our Capitol there was a large “Holiday Tree” where people of every creed pinned money that was given to by toys, jackets, and food for needy children. One day, some idiot Protestant Christian decided that this was not a “Holiday Tree” but it was in fact, and therefore should be renamed, a Christmas Tree. So after that, a Jewish group petitioned to display a menoreh near the tree. Then a Catholic group petitioned for a creche. Then an atheist group petitioned for a display saying all religions are phony. Pretty soon everybody and his uncle and aunt wants a display. So this year there will be no displays. So who gets hurt? The displayers who lose their displays? No. It’s the kids who used to get the toys, jackets, and food from the Holiday Tree…



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Ron

posted October 22, 2009 at 9:27 pm


b.
October 22, 2009 4:03 PM
“Secondly, how many other religious organizations are helping those in need on a large scale, locally and around the world like the Christian organizations? Nobody talks about how much good the organizations do to help the poor, homeless and needy, but are quick to criticize them as “bad” and want Christians silenced. There are others, but do they get bashed like the Christians? No. How hypocritical.”
Ummm, exactly where do you live?
I’m glad that some Christian organizations assist others in need. The ’large scale’ issue is simply because they are the largest religious group in the U.S. Pagan groups seek to give to the needy and to organizations to help those in need but are turned away because if they accept donations from a Pagan group, one or more of the Christian groups that donate will stop giving, so we won’t accept our contribution. That is what I have personally seen where I live. Pagans want to help but are told NO. During the holiday season, I will give to specific Christian groups who seek to help but then there are some that I wouldn’t give the time of day to because of the way they treat Pagans.
“do they get bashed like the Christians?” Yep, by Christians.



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Your Name

posted October 22, 2009 at 10:59 pm


Christmas. The celebration of Christ.



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Mere_Christian

posted October 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm


Since witchcraft is a religion, and religion is granted free sppech rights and free exercise expressions, that the government cannot silence, then Halloween with its witchcraft connotation, should be left alone to be touted any way in which witches want it to be.
The first amendment gives complete license to religion and those expressing it to be free from being muzzled.
Likewise, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism. Taoism, Judaiam and Christian cultures, et al. etc., etc., etc..
I, as a Christian, applaud those that live the witchcraft culture, to deplore the ugly and violent depictions of witch lifestyle.
What should be removed from the schools is depictions of serial killers and murderers. Celebrating violence is against everyones civil rights.
That’s IN the founders intent.



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A.I.

posted October 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm


“The first amendment gives complete license to religion and those expressing it to be free from being muzzled.”
Complete license, no. The free exercise of religion cannot be totally prohibited, but it can be abridged. The Constituion separates government actions and religious beliefs. Government has no role in religion except to ensure it is acting within the law.
“What should be removed from the schools is depictions of serial killers and murderers. Celebrating violence is against everyones civil rights.”
If you are talking about public schools, religion should not be there in the first place. Celebrating violence is not necessarily a civil rights violation. If someone wants to drink a toast to Jeffrey Dahmer or watch a movie with gratuitous violence, that’s up to them.



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Rebecca

posted October 23, 2009 at 5:42 pm


Mere_Christian wrote: “What should be removed from the schools is depictions of serial killers and murderers.”
I can’t imagine what this is in reference to. Will you please clarify?



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Boris

posted October 23, 2009 at 8:35 pm


There is probably a picture of Bush and Cheney in the public school A.I is talking about.



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A,I,

posted October 23, 2009 at 10:19 pm


Ha-ha, Boris, I didn’t really know what serial killers, murderers, and celebrations of violence the werechristian was referencing. We didn’t get that in the public school I attended.



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Your Name

posted October 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm


The problem I can see with the 1rst Amendment rights is this: people using the 1rst Amendment right priviledge to destroy other people through laws and practices. Thus making the 1rst Amendment right completely destroyed for another.
Cara



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Boris

posted October 24, 2009 at 11:04 pm


Another comment from Creationopithecus Alabamus above.



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REMARKABLE

posted October 25, 2009 at 10:45 pm


The government, society and the state education system has violated the 1st Amendment over and over.. regardless what should be celebrated or not. This is America, and someone needs to take the 1st Amendment to court – for justice to be served and equality for all. not because one being treated unequal of another but because people have taken upon themselves to tell society what is right and what is wrong, yet we still have crimes, violation of religious freedom and expression of speech. Religous people know how to work around those things that can affect their beliefs but the opponents do not. they want everyone to suffer.



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Your Name

posted October 26, 2009 at 7:37 pm


Far be it from me to actually go to the grocery store and buy a saled without some dork saying your not good enough. Go jump in a lake and bake a potato would you. Stick to your meaningless worthless job abilities which make people more and more materialistic and whe will call it a day. Jokerette



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jimbino

posted October 26, 2009 at 9:00 pm


The enlightened solution to this and all similar problems is to abolish public involvement in education. How my neighbors rear their kids is of no concern to me, until they start doing it with my tax dollars.
The same holds for both breeding and abortion. What a woman does with her body is of no concern to me, until she starts doing it with my tax dollars.
Since my tax dollars go to pay for all that private behavior, I will become involved, as will all the other taxpayers, which is the reason that this country will never be able to make sense of procreation or education.
Thank Darwin the gummint doesn’t have a share in running Walmart.



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Boris

posted October 26, 2009 at 11:53 pm


The enlightened solution to this and all similar problems is to abolish public involvement in education. How my neighbors rear their kids is of no concern to me, until they start doing it with my tax dollars.
Boris says: How your neighbors rear their children will be of great concern to you when they are unemployable and break into your house and steal your stuff and impregnate your daughter.
The same holds for both breeding and abortion. What a woman does with her body is of no concern to me, until she starts doing it with my tax dollars.
Boris says: I’d rather foot the bill for an abortion than five or six decades of rent on a prison cell because some poor woman couldn’t afford an abortion and gave birth to a child she shouldn’t have.
Since my tax dollars go to pay for all that private behavior, I will become involved, as will all the other taxpayers, which is the reason that this country will never be able to make sense of procreation or education.
Boris says: You’re the one not making any sense Jimbino.
Thank Darwin the gummint doesn’t have a share in running Walmart.
Boris says: I wonder what Walmart would pay people if we didn’t have minimum wage laws.



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N. Lindzee Lindholm

posted October 27, 2009 at 9:11 am


Since I go into the schools as a mental health worker, it has bothered me when teachers display pirate regalia, knowing that pirates are thieves, taking ships over by force to steal their plunder. Are these the kind of role models we want our kids looking up to? I ask this question also in regards to witches, ghosts, and goblins.



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Your Name

posted October 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm


I don’t know about that one. When one of our children in the womb is being murdered in the name of choice, that would be unequal from my view. In any event that would be taking a person over another person to live.
Life goes on despite their …………
Cara Floyd



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UT student

posted October 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm


I can see how both sides of the argument are pulling their case. For one, Christians should be able to continue having their celebration in schools as long as the highly religious stuff, Manger, wise men, are kept separate to the secular objects such as trees and Santa. Just like Halloween, people need to accept that over time, Christmas has become more than the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. As for us Christians, I believe that we need to also accept the fact that we cannot force upon others our ideals. Save that for the home, and close ones in our lives. Still the equality of holidays should benefit all children in bonding and having fun.



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A.I.

posted November 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm


I agreed with Boris’ response that guv’ment involvement in education and public health is legitimate and societally beneficial.
I also like UT student’s summation of live and let live, but keep religious aspects under religious roofs where they belong, not in public schools.



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Ezequiel

posted December 9, 2009 at 11:07 am


I am fundamentalist Christian and we are people who believe in a standard, an apologist a defender of the faith. What is right and what is wrong is up to the individual. Self-will a gift. But all of this rebukeness of what needs to be in schools and not in schools when it comes to religion is a topic that needs much healing. Yes I agree with UT on the thoughts but we must maintain the truth even if others do not accept the truth. God cannot be taken out of anything He will always be present whether at home or at school. Opinions can become a force of anger we must all watch our hearts believers and non-believers. We celebrate everyday and that is LIFE! In the greek, “religion” means ” relationship” so we all have a bond with something and everything should be treated as a relationship and with respect. …



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