The craziest Christmas ban
There were so many odd stories last month about Christmas in the public square that it might be hard to find one as emblematic. Denver's debates over substituting "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" on the capitol lawn and excluding a church's float from the Parade of Lights were probably the biggest controversy, but they certainly weren't the wackiest. Comparatively speaking, it was pretty boringDenver Mayor John Hickenlooper backed off the sign change plan, and the church float will return next year.
No, the oddest December Dilemma story of the year has to be the case of seventh-grader Bryan Lafond. It's hardly precedent-setting, and doesn't have much broad applicability, but it sure is odd. The student at Hampton Academy Junior High went to his holiday "dress-up dance" in a Santa Claus costume, but Principal Fred Muscara wouldn't let him in.
"It was a holiday party. It was not a Christmas party," Muscara explained. "There is a separation of church and state. We have a lot of students that go to Hampton Academy Junior High that have different religions. We have to be sensitive to that."
The Lafonds are tired of the publicity the incident has brought, but the controversy continues. Not over separation of church and state, but over safetya school shouldn't just boot a 12-year-old out into the cold darkness outside just because he's wearing red.
As for the church-state angle, Leslie Lafond notes, "He didn't go as Baby Jesus." But even if he had, the school would have been violating the First Amendment if it kicked him out for wearing it out of fear that he'd offend non-Christian students. As Clinton Education Secretary Richard Riley told educators in a 1998 letter, "Students generally ...1
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