wow, I have to take notes on this thread what with the various points being made ... first: I do get the Cheile notes and don't think that was really rude, just emotional ranting, and nothing personal against any particular person, just a reaction, and I get it, and even agree with at least 65 pct of it ...
and I do totally get the Berry remarks, with the girl having to quit the thing she loves because she doesn't agree or like the way it's being done, and the insensitivity of the adult leaders who should know better in today's era! for shame!
Now I'll make a point: there is much more multi-cultural in our public orgs and schools than Ever before, including religion items, so we need to be more sensitive about that. Now let me make another point.
When I was in school we either had no, or they didn't mention and make any issue of it, Islamic or Buddhist or Caribo-African or even Greek/Eastern/Russian Orthodox kids around: it is more recently that big numbers of those families came to USA, and in my day the few coming over were not in places where I went to school, these kids just were not there, it was no issue of them. But ... we did have a few Jewish kids and I never really asked them, well maybe one, what they thought of all the Christmas stuff being mentioned. He, and the others too, just accepted it around, didn't really have an issue with it, then went home and did their own thing with the family. It wasn't until uni, where I lived with several Jewish kids on the dorm floor, and my very own Jewish roommate one year who'd come back from weekend and share with me his gran's homemade bagels with homemade cream cheese and locks (sp? I ain't Jewish)(loks?) : when I learned much more about the Jewish ways and the Saturday evening dinner with fam and remembrance and recitings and traditions and all that. I think before uni I had met maybe three Jewish kids in my whole life, and no Islamic or Buddhist or Orthodox .... I Never heard the phrase multi-cultural til university.
Choirs: I guess there just ain't choirs around schools that can resist touching upon, or whole-hog into it, Christmas hymns and songs around December. So that's a tough one: but they do need to make it voluntary, and actively tell the kids, "those of you who don't agree and don't want to sing the next day's songs with us, you can sit these out and not come for that one day " &etc. Like, "nothing forcing here." In other words, a bit more sensitivity than in my day, but cut it out all together? drastic.
And it depends too on where and who. In many areas where the Christmas crowd or barely half the total, just cut it out; but in areas where they are 96pct of the total, well, sensitivity and voluntary but then let them have their December.
I would hate to see some centralized fed law issue in some far away urban place like D.C. decide what the crowd in a state like Arkansas or maybe Oklahoma want to do about December holidays in the main square in front of the city hall, or in the local high school, in a place where 99pct of all Want to do their Christmas like they've always done it. I'm not big on the idea of the faraway fed city telling the locals who may be somewhat different than them how to do things or what they can and can't do: in many ways and about many issues I'm a states' rights kinda guy.
PS- I think having Christmas doings like presentations or craft-making or such in k-12 schools was always an innocent and nice thing and I really see no huge reason to change that; just give the kids alternative source or subject matter if they don't want to do xmas stuff.
PS2- besides schools: I like the way they have the National Christmas Tree lighting at the elipse by the White House and the prez lights it up with first ma'am. And I think states should be able to do that with the gov mansion if they want to. But all in all, otherwise, I think Christmas doesn't have to be a showy thing around public/gov places. But a town should be allowed to have 'the town Christmas tree' if they want one. Just as a town largely Jewish should be able to have their observance things, candles, remembrance, if they want that in the town square.
PS3- I never heard that Christmas, about the mass for Christ, had origins as a pagan holiday: just because some winter solstice festival comes nearby doesn't make Christ's Mass have pagan origins or anticedents.