Such a report seemed odd since Fox was energetically spotlighting nationwide attacks on the holiday with headlines such as:

  • “Militant Secularists Lose Battle to Oust Nativity Scene,”
  • “City Blocks Salvation Army Bell Ringers Over Panhandling Ban,”
  • “College Reverses Christmas Tree Ban,”
  • “Rhode Island Statehouse Tree Lighting to Be Held After All,”
  • “War on Christmas Erupts in Illinois,”
  • “Christmas Tree Replaced With ‘Electric Winter Tree’”
  • “Despite Ban, Virginia Rep Wants You to Have a Merry CHRISTMAS! (And a Happy HANUKKAH, Too!),”
  •  “U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Pays Homage to Obama – But Not Jesus,”
  • “UNICEF Smears Santa as ‘One Percenter’,”
  • “Thousands Rally to Save Nativity,”
  • “School Reinstates Nativity, Vows to Fight Possible Lawsuit,”
  • “Poll: 51% Prefer ‘Merry Christmas’ in Advertising” and
  • “Atheist Display Replaces Nativity Scene in Santa Monica.”

An unexpected target this year is the cartoon character Charlie Brown — who apparently has fallen into disfavor with atheists. 

Fox News looks at Charlie Brown ban

That’s right, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, the theatrical adaptation of a Peanuts holiday cartoon children and families have enjoyed for years,” reports Dave Bohon, ”is under attack from an atheist group that caught wind that an elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas, was going to take some of its students to see the play at a local church.”

According to the Christian Post, teachers at Little Rock’s Terry Elementary School sent a letter home warning parents that the play at nearby Agape Church might “expose your child to Christianity,” so “if you prefer your child to not attend the program, they may stay at school.”

The stage version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

“While the musical’s storyline, which finds Peanuts mainstay Charlie Brown in search of the true meaning of Christmas, can hardly be termed an overt promotion of the Christian faith, it does include a scene in which Linus, another Peanuts regular, recites the Christmas story right out of the Gospel of Luke in an effort to shed light on the beginnings of the now-commercialized holiday,” reported Bohon:

“Predictably, a parent or two took exception to the school taking their children to a church, and complained to the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, a state atheist group, which ludicrously warned the school district that the innocent field trip might in fact be a violation of the First Amendment’s supposed separation of church and state clause. “We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown,” Anne Orsi, a spokesperson for the atheist group, assured local television station KARK. “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.” (The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”)

In a followup prepared statement Orsi said that she and her group weren’t “making war either on religion or Christmas. Rather, this is a case of a church forming an alliance with local government to violate religious freedom.”

The pastor of Agape Church, the Rev. Happy Caldwell, noted that his congregation had sponsored similar free, kid-friendly programs in the past with no backlash about religion or First Amendment concerns. “We hope the complaint or question of a few does not override the opportunity for everyone,” he offered in a statement. “This production also included a food drive for area pantries, and we hope that purpose is not lost as well.”

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