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Texas AG sets principal who censored ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ poster straight

AP Photo/ABC, 1965 United Feature Syndicate Inc.,File

It may have been nothing more than a holiday hiccup, but the Texas attorney general was quick to set it straight.

On Thursday, Fox News columnist Todd Starnes posted a piece revealing that the principal at Patterson Middle School in Killeen, Texas, reprimanded a nurse for hanging in the halls of the public school a "Charlie Brown Christmas" poster that featured Linus' famous reference to the Christian meaning of the Christian holiday.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown," Linus said in the quote on the display on Dedra Shannon's office door.

Along with the passage, the poster also included a picture of Linus and the iconic puny Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Shannon originally installed the display Monday, but by Wednesday, she was told by the school's principal that she had to take it down.

"She said, ‘Please don’t hate me, but unfortunately you’re going to have to take your poster down,'" Shannon recalled, Starnes reported. "I’m disappointed. It is a slap in the face of Christianity."

"[The principal] said my poster is an issue of separation of church and state," she continued. "She said the poster had to come down because it might offend kids from other religions or those who do not have a religion."

But as it turns out, Shannon is squarely within her rights as a Texan, and once the Lone Star State's Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, saw Starnes' column, he went to bat for the school nurse.

In an updated report by Starnes, the Fox columnist said Paxton has called on the school board of the Killeen Independent School District, of which Patterson Middle is a part, "to immediately reverse their unlawful decision."

In her effort to see Shannon follow the law, the principal might have inadvertently broken the law herself. In 2013, then-Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, signed the "Merry Christmas" bill into law. The legislation protects public school officials' right to make a Biblical references to Christmas.

"I am proud to have voted for the Merry Christmas law in 2013, when I was a member of the legislature," Paxton told Starnes. "We passed that law precisely because of this type of discrimination against people of faith."

The attorney general quickly noted that the principal's censoring of Shannon's Christmas display is an "attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law."

There seems to be a good chance the issue will be resolved soon. It appears the school district has a fairly faith-friendly record.

Terry Delano, president of the district’s board of trustees, said the panel voted in favor of changing "Winter Break" to "Christmas Break." In addition, the Killeen ISD rejected the Freedom from Religion Foundation's demand to stop praying before meetings and pushed back against the Department of Education's instruction to open all restrooms to students, regardless of their sex.

"These strong stances for Christianity and morality often go unreported and unnoticed," Delano said, "but they represent important victories in a time when our culture seems to be rotting in a cesspool."

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