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 boring—Denver 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 safety—a 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 ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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