Michael Johnson

Here’s a little test of your sensitivity to the current culture:

Suppose your child’s school announces a Christmas celebration – and your child, while subscribing to your atheistic beliefs, decides to participate. So he goes, dressed as Santa Claus.

Uh-uh, say school officials. This is Christmas. Take off the red suit, and come back when you can wear something shepherd-y.

Care to guess how fast the American Civil Liberties Union could whip up a lawsuit on that one?

How, then, to explain their silence in the case of a 10-year-old student at Willow Hill Elementary in Philadelphia?

The fourth-grader, like many Christians, faces a quandary about Halloween. On the one hand, parties and candy are nice; on the other, all that focus on blood and witchery and horror stuff seems like a rather unhealthy infatuation with the darkest elements of the human soul. Especially for one who is trying to follow the Light.

But the Abington School District doesn’t make much allowance for that dichotomy of conscience. It mandates that every student will wear a costume, or be isolated from the rest of the student body during the school’s Halloween activities.

While the young Christian didn’t particularly buy into the “come-as-your-favorite-ghoul” aspect of the day, neither did he relish the idea of spending an afternoon sequestered. So, he decided to attend the party dressed as Jesus Christ (who knew a little something about the conflicts between faith and culture).

It seemed an ideal solution. Costumed as Christ, the boy fulfilled the district’s dress requirements, while making a kind of personal statement about his views on the holiday itself.

But the idea went over like a vampire at a blood bank. The boy’s principal decreed that his costume violated the school’s unwritten religion policy, and that he should exchange his outfit for something more seemly.

Like what?

Like, maybe a Roman emperor, a teacher said.

Good thing the boy didn’t come dressed as a rabbi. The teacher might have suggested Yaser Arafat.

Naturally, the school didn’t have a problem with other costumes, some of which carried their own religious implications. The devils’ and witches’ outfits were okay. The kid dressed as “Death” was a hoot.

But Jesus? The school couldn’t take that risk.

To be fair, Abington has its reputation to think of. It’s the same district that made headlines half a century ago in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared school-sponsored devotional Bible reading in public schools to be unconstitutional.

As a character or an object of reverence, Jesus clearly isn’t welcome in Abington schools. Nor are those who take Him seriously. The question is: why?

Michael Johnson

Mike Johnson is a senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation, and its subsidiary, Community Defense Counsel. ADF President Alan Sears is the former head of the Commission on Pornography under U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese.

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