A poster of the holiday classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has been censored by an middle school in Texas because it includes references to the birth of Jesus Christ and upholds it as the true meaning of the season.
At the end of the animated film, which was created by late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in 1965, the character Linus quotes a passage from the Bible about the birth of Jesus.
"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.
According to Fox News, Dedra Shannon, a staffer at Patterson Middle School in Killeen, Texas, was inspired by the scene, she decided to use images to decorate the door to the nurse's office.
Just two days after she installed the decorations - including a picture of Linus, a scrawny Christmas tree, and the Biblical passage - Ms. Shannon was confronted by the school's principal.
"She said, 'please don't hate me, but unfortunately you're going to have to take your poster down," Ms. Shannon told Fox News contributor Todd Starnes. "I'm disappointed. It is a slap in the face of Christianity."
The principal went on to explain that the poster violated the U.S. Constitution: "She said my poster is an issue of separation of church and state," Ms. Shannon said. "She said the poster had to come down because it might offend kids from other religions or those who do not have a religion."
The principal also allowed Ms. Shannon to keep Linus on the door, but told her she must remove the Bible passage.
"I just took the entire thing down," she said. "I wasn't going to leave Linus and the Christmas tree without having the dialogue. That's the whole point of why it was put up."
Ms. Shannon added that the school's view of "tolerance" and "diversity" clearly does not include Christianity: "Throughout the school there are talks about diversity. Well, you aren't being very diverse if you are not allowing the Christians to put something up that refers to a Christian holiday," she said.
The controversy surrounding "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is nothing new; last year, a school in Kentucky made headlines after cancelling a stage performance of the holiday classic because it recites the story of Jesus' birth.
In fact, the film has been criticized for over 50 years, according to the Los Angeles Times. While the cartoon special is today a holiday classic that "in retrospect seem preordained," not many were impressed when the animated feature was reviewed by television bigwigs in 1965.
According to the report, the "executives watched in stony silence" and gave television producer Lee Mendelson the condescending reply, "Well, you gave it a good try."
Schulz, a devoted Christian, and Mendelson also reportedly got into an argument about whether a reciting of the story of Jesus' birth according to the passage in the Gospel of Luke should even be mentioned, much less declared as the true meaning of Christmas. While Mendelson believed religion should not be mentioned on prime-time entertainment, Schulz was adamant, and the rest was history.
"Many familiar with the Peanuts strip don't think of Charles Schulz as a Christian pioneer," said Stephen Lind, the author of A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz. "But he was a leader in American media when it comes to both the strength and frequency of religious references."