Saying “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” in a Mississippi public school could be protected by state law by the next holiday season.
Rep. Tom Miles, D-Forest, recently announced in a Facebook post that he has pre-filed what he calls the “Merry Christmas” law to be considered during the 2017 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 3.
Miles said his bill mimics a Texas law passed in 2013 that allows Texas children, teachers, parents and school administrators to acknowledge Christmas on school grounds, he said.
The Texas law also allows schools to educate students on the history of traditional winter celebrations and display scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a Christmas tree or nativity scene.
“It’s not choosing one over the other,” Miles told Mississippi Today on Tuesday. “It gives school districts the opportunity where if they can, that they can have a Christmas program and other things as well.”
Miles acknowledged he is unaware of any recent events in Mississippi where saying “Merry Christmas” has gotten anyone in trouble on school grounds. He says the bill was encouraged by his constituents and school administrators. However, Christian sermons and prayers in school assemblies have been successfully challenged in court.
“Whether it’s Christmas or Hanukkah, our children, teachers, parents and school administrators should have the freedom to acknowledge these traditions in our public schools without fear of censorship, punishment, persecution or litigation,” Miles says in his Facebook post. “The Merry Christmas Bill guarantees that freedom.”