NY School Districts Reject Historical Accuracy of Christian Symbols

( [email protected] ) Nov 14, 2003 11:32 AM EST

New York City School District decided that the depiction of Christ does not represent a historical event, therefore must be barred from using as display of holiday symbols whereas they allowed Jewish monorahs and Islamic crescents.

New York City lawyers in efforts to defend the ban asserted the "suggestion that a crèche is a historically accurate representation of an event with secular significance is wholly disingenuous."

They believe the Jewish and Islamic symbols have some secular dimension but the Christian symbols are "purely religious."

Robert J. Muise of Thomas More Law Center in Michigan believes that is not how most Americans see.

"The birth of Jesus is a historical event which serves as the basis for celebration of Christmas," Muise stated. "It's of importance for both Christians and non-Christians."

The center is taking action to prevent the district from enforcing the ban. The center asserts New York's policy "promotes the Jewish and Islamic faiths while conveying the impermissible message of disapproval of Christianity in violation of the U.S. Constitution."

The More Center mentioned one public-school principal who encouraged teachers to bring to school “religious symbols” that represent Islamic and Jewish religions but not Christianity. Nativity scenes were not allowed as the authorized displays.

Kate Ahlers, communications director for New York City's law department, says schools can use things that are secular like menorahs, stars and snowflakes, but the crèche is considered religious.

"There is a separation of church and state that is part of the Constitution," she claimed. "It's a clear belief that people try to follow in schools and public office, and schools are saying they adhere to that belief."

The point of schools, she added, "is not to debate religion; the point of schools is to teach children."

The federal civil-rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of Andrea Skoros and her two elementary-school children who are devout Roman Catholics, against the city of New York and several school officials who are in denial of Christianity for the display of holiday symbol.

"Can Christianity be erased from a public school?" Muse asked in a statement. "Can 'Christ' be removed from Christmas? We will soon find out."