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Jesus ‘not banned’ from public schools (or is He?)

     Again, not necessarily to endorse the religious celebration of Christmas, but just to point out how some public school teachers view any and all "religion," Pete Chagnon of OneNewsNow reported on 12/19/2008 that a religious rights advocate is troubled by a recent occurrence of censorship at a Mississippi school. Hattiesburg, Mississippi, sixth-grader Andrew White was given a creative expression assignment as part of his language class. Students were allowed to choose from three topics, and Andrew chose "What Christmas Means to Me." Andrew wrote a poem titled "A Great Christmas" that reads: "The best Christmas ever is when everyone is there. It is when everyone is laughing here and there. That is the Christmas I want to share. Christmas is about Jesus’ birth. About peace on Earth. This is what Christmas is about. It is when He lay in a manger. And the three wise men come to see. That’s what it means to me." After Andrew referenced Jesus in his poem, his teacher Latasha Atkins docked his grade and told him that mentioning Jesus was not allowed. She then instructed him to write a new poem. Matt Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, disagrees with Atkins’ point-of-view. "The good news is that the principal, Carrie Hornsby, eventually sided with Andrew and his parents, changing his grade to a 100 and conceding that there was nothing improper in using the name of Jesus," he notes. The most horrifying part of the story, according to Staver, is that this sixth-grader was told that Jesus is not allowed in public school. "I think some educators need education that the story of Christmas, and the birth of Jesus, is not banned from our public schools," he points out. Principal Hornsby did, in fact, tell school teachers to write letters home to parents informing them that religious expression is permitted under federal guidelines. However, Andrew’s paper was supposed to be displayed at the Winter’s Writers Board, and it was not. "I think there is still work that needs to be done," Staver concludes. "I think that this school needs to hear loud and clear from people around the country that this is not going to be tolerated, that in fact they should not censor, they must not censor, the name of Jesus or the essence of Christmas." Andrew’s mother Leah White contacted OneNewsNow and said this particular situation has frustrated her and her husband, James, to the point that they will be looking into home-schooling options (editor’s note: YEAH!!! WSW.]. According to Leah, she would not have known about the situation had her son not been late in turning in the rewritten project, and she wonders what else is going on in the classroom without her knowledge. Leah also stated that she will be contacting her state representatives and urging them to pass legislation protecting religious freedom in school.

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