Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Lighten up, already! From Fox News Radio: A stage version of the beloved holiday classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has sparked a constitutional controversy at a Little Rock, Ark. grade school. Students at Terry Elementary School had been invited to attend an upcoming performance of the show at Agape Church. Teachers sent home letters informing parents that a school bus would shuttle children to and from the school-day show…However, at least one parent objected to the field trip and contacted the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, a self-described community of atheists, agnostics and humanists. “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. “We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown.”

This, BTW, is the scene the group apparently has a problem with:

Comment: I remember when I was a kid (way back in 1965 when the now-controversial TV special first aired), the general line against the celebration of Christmas was its commercialization.  Back then,  the criticism was that the holiday had become too commercial and that Christians, in particular, should get back to remembering its true meaning (namely, the birth of Christ).  That idea was profoundly expressed in the above scene, quoting from the Christmas account of the Gospel of Luke.

Today’s criticism is almost exactly the reverse.  We are told that the public celebration of the holiday should be all about its commercial side.  Go out, buy — but don’t mention the “C” word.   That’s exclusionary — and, apparently, offensive. So, no, no one is saying anything bad about Charlie Brown. It’s just the idea that anyone should have the gall to bring up the true meaning of Christmas that’s so galling.

BTW, try getting that original special  made today.  I’m guessing it would be a very tough sell. Though “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is repeating  on ABC next Wednesday, you can thank its consistently-strong ratings (even after nearly half a century) for that.

So, yeah, if any kid doesn’t want to go see the play, he or she shouldn’t be forced to. But, if no one’s being coerced, maybe busybody adults could lighten up and let the kids enjoy a gentle show that either peacefully portrays their own cultural and religious heritage (without demeaning anyone) or, alternatively, gives them the opportunity learn about another student’s  faith.

That, to me, is what tolerance is all about, Charlie Brown.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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