Civil Liberties Group Releases 'Twelve Rules of Christmas' Guidelines

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A civil liberties organization has published a step-by-step guide to understanding what can and cannot be done to celebrate the holidays in public.

The Rutherford Institute's "The Twelve Rules of Christmas" was compiled because of a growing tendency among public schools and government officials to ban references to Christmas or Christianity during the holiday season.

"Whether through ignorance or fear, Americans are painfully misguided about the recognition of religious holidays," said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. "Every year we hear many complaints from parents about school officials banning any reference to the word 'Christmas.'

"There is an irrational bias against anything remotely religious unless its sanitized and secularized, and unfortunately far too many parents, students and teachers erroneously believe they cannot do anything to celebrate Christmas in the public schools," said Whitehead.

For example, he said, attorneys for his group recently intervened when a Florida elementary school omitted songs about Christmas from its holiday concert program while including songs celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the 'winter season."

Also, attorneys addressed the school's fear of violating the so-called 'separation of church and state' by pointing out that not only does the First Amendment's Establishment Clause not mandate that all Christian religious references be banished from the classroom, but that the school's conspicuous exclusion of Christmas from the program was in itself a violation of the Establishment Clause.

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