California Woman Lobbying for Christmas Carols in Schools

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

A California woman is collecting signatures for a proposed ballot initiative that would require public schools across the state to provide opportunities for pupils to listen to or perform Christmas carols.

According to the Record Searchlight, Merry Susan Hyatt is attempting to collect the 433,971 signatures needed by the end of March 2010 to allow voters to decide if traditional Christmas music can be played in schools during the holidays.

Hyatt’s petition describes Christmas music as a “longstanding American tradition and a significant element of our cultural heritage as Americans” and says “Parents or guardians should have the right to decide whether or not their children may hear Christmas music in the classrooms or at assemblies.”

It calls for public and secondary schools to provide opportunities for pupils to listen to or perform this music “at the appropriate time of year” and allows parents to opt their children out of these classes or recitals.

Hyatt, who calls herself a Tea Party Patriot, has partnered with several churches in the Redding area to help collect the signatures.

“Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas,” Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots told the Record. “That’s why we have it. It’s not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It’s like, ‘wow you guys, it’s called Christmas for a reason.’ ”

Ryan said Hyatt’s initiative falls under the umbrella of causes the group supports, which concern limited government, following the constitution and fiscal responsibility.

Opponents, such as Rob Boston of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have already called the initiative “blatantly unconstitutional” and claims that even if she did manage to get the measure passed, it would eventually be struck down by the courts.

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