New Jersey Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer says he's tired of the seemingly never-ending church-state holiday battles that rage during what should be a cheerful season, so he's taking legislative action in an effort he believes will provide First Amendment protections for students, teachers, and other public school employees.
"It's time to take a stand. It's time to stop the madness," Dancer told TheBlaze.
Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (Credit: New Jersey Legislature)
Bill No. 4481 is a proposed law in the State of New Jersey that would allow any "school district to teach about traditional winter celebrations, display holiday symbols on school property, and include musical selections with religious themes."
[sharequote align="center"]"It's time to take a stand. It's time to stop the madness."[/sharequote]
Rather than wasting energies on legal battles over church-state violations, Dancer said he wanted to create a bill that would protect First Amendment rights, while allowing everyone to "enjoy the cheerfulness of the season."
"It just seems to me more and more people today are either timid or intimidated to express their First Amendment rights of saying Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah," he told TheBlaze. "We should not be inhibited as to is it politically correct or socially acceptable to express what has been for centuries a celebrated and honored traditional holiday, not only in our country, but with those who went before us."
Since many holiday battles end up in court, Dancer said he's hoping that Bill No. 4481 will help prevent some of these legal spats by codifying protections into the law.
In addition to being able to offer up simple holiday greetings, his bill would also allow the presence of religious holiday songs in schools as well as decorations so long as secular counterparts are also offered.
"The bill provides the option to the schools to educate with respect to the history of these traditional holidays," Dancer said. "For example, a religious themed song such as 'Silent Night' (could be sung) but they would be required to have at least another secular song like 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.' They could put up displays -- but they would also be wanting to have another secular symbol as well."
Dancer said his proposal all boils down to "common sense" and allowing people to express themselves freely, noting that the words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the U.S. Constitution.
[sharequote align="center"]"...more people today are either timid or intimidated to express their First Amendment rights..."[/sharequote]
It's not likely that the bill will come to a vote before Christmas, though Dancer believes that there is enough bipartisan support for it to eventually gain passage.
Other legislators and states are taking similar action. Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the "Merry Christmas Bill" earlier this year, allowing holiday greetings and symbols to be displayed at schools in the state. A similar proposal is underway in Oklahoma.
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