Oklahoma State Representatives File 'Merry Christmas Bill'

Monday, December 9th 2013, 7:49 pm
By: News 9

A seasonal salutation could also be the name of a new state law.

On Monday, State Representatives filed House Bill 2317, or the Merry Christmas bill. The bill calls for more protections for Christmas and how it's celebrated in schools, such as religion based greetings and nativity scenes.

Session does not begin until February, but legislators are getting into the holiday spirit right now, and they say it's that spirit they are trying to protect.

"We are Resisting the cleansing of our school houses with religious thought and tradition," said Oklahoma State Rep. Ken Walker (R).

Representative Ken Walker calls it resisting the cleanse. But for Kathy LaFortune, it hits a little closer to home.

"It was a holiday decoration on the holiday tree," LaFortune said.

That's what her kids called their classroom tree and she wants to make sure they can say Christmas.

"Not that we have to go back to the 1960's, but we felt we have to protect that and it's part of our spirituality," LaFortune said.

She feels House Bill 2317 or the Merry Christmas Bill will do that. But Brady Henderson with the Oklahoma ACLU feels it only gives schools false hope.

"Encourages schools to violate the constitution. And by doing so get involved with legal rights and be unsuccessful," said the ACLU's Brady Henderson.

Henderson said the separation of church and state and the federal level will eventually overrule in court. And that will result in financial troubles for the schools.

"This is a way legislators can score political points with the cost being born by school districts," Henderson said.

While legislators feel it's their way of protection. Henderson thinks it shouldn't be the job of the law.

"Wishing them happy holidays, Merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, whatever you choose this will simply allow that freedom for them to extend that good will," said Oklahoma State Rep. Joe Dorman (D).

"It tells me as a citizen that I need government permission to celebrate it," said Henderson.

Texas recently passed a similar bill. And the authors of House Bill 2317 say they plan to use the same platform of Texas' Merry Christmas bill.

Learn more about the Merry Christmas Bill