Bible passages cut from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ at Kentucky school
50 Christmases With Charlie Brown.
When students perform the play A Charlie Brown Christmas at W.R. “Public school staff may not endorse any religion when acting in their official capacities and during school activities,” Johnson County (Ky.) Schools Superintendent Thomas Salyer told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “There is no violation of the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ by allowing children to learn about theater and the origins of Christmas through participating in a stage version of this beloved program that contains the same religious elements as the television version,” a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom to the school system read. “Given that courts have consistently held that schools may organize and sponsor Christmas programs and performances that include religious songs and study the historical origins of Christmas, there is no basis for the District’s decision to censor the religious aspects of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’” To say that Christmas has become commercialized and that the holiday’s true meaning often gets lost amid the season’s hustle and bustle is hardly a new idea. Castle Elementary School in rural Johnson County, Kentucky, made the decision to cut all Biblical references from the play, including one vital scene where Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas by reciting a passage from the Gospel of Luke. The school ordered the students to remain silent during the scene, but the parents decided to take the matter into their own hands at the advice of Glenn Beck, who spoke about the situation on his radio show. “I would get together with parents and I would — if I knew this was coming — take the script of what Linus actually says and I would stand up as a block of parents and just stop the show and just all of us at that point, ‘Doesn’t anybody know what Christmas is all about?’ And all of the parents stand up and just start saying it, even as the play is going on,” Beck said, according to Opposing Views.
Within those 25 minutes, viewers witness the anxiety and depression that comes to some during the holidays and Linus recites the Christmas story from the Bible – all encompassed by the melancholic jazz of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. But in 1965, Mendelson and then CBS (which owned the rights to the special) programming executive Fred Silverman believed they had made a terrible show and that it would air one night and they’d be done with it. “We didn’t think it worked,” Mendelson explained. “We thought it was too slow.
Principal Jeff Cochran said all references to the Bible were removed from the Christmas play after he and others in the district received a message from Salyer on Dec. 11 that said in part: “As superintendent of Johnson County Schools, I recognize the significance of Christmas and the traditions and beliefs associated with this holiday. In another school in the same district, “Silent Night” was replaced with a Christmas version of the “Whip/Nae Nae” song, explained Todd Starnes with Fox News. And I took it back to New York and the network really didn’t like it.” It was the first broadcast special to be made from the popular “Peanuts” comic strip. “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz had just days to write it and with just six months to produce it, Mendelson was creating things out of thin air. With core values such as service, integrity, leadership, and commitment, our staff and students will continue to proudly represent our district as recently demonstrated by our many student successes.” During this Christmas week, I want to stress one more time that the First Amendment was not given to restrict the public’s expression of speech and religion but protect its free exercise from over-lording government officials who would seek to suppress it, just like what happened in Kentucky.
Businesses, churches and other community organizations offer food drives, clothing drives, toy drives, and accept monetary donations to assist people in need. In the Charlie Brown play, the character Linus recites passages from the Bible: “Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger. And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’ ” Paintsville Herald reporter Sarah Hill said that on Monday about 30 people, including members of the Light of Christ Church at Staffordsville, protested the removal of religious content from school Christmas programs.
When his creative partners voiced concern that broaching religion might be risky, Schulz responded simply: “If we don’t do it, who will?” The trio showed their completed reel to CBS CBS.A 0.78 % network executives just shy of the scheduled airdate. A member of the Yale Law School faculty wasn’t pleased with what he saw on the now-viral video, saying, “It’s a sad commentary on the present state of public opinion. Following a year that included acts of terrorism, gun violence and an increasingly ugly presidential campaign, a desire for peace has taken on a greater poignancy. The music fused with the characters of the movie -Schroeder’s book-learned sophistication, Snoopy’s unpredictability, and even the melancholy, searching heart of Charlie Brown. This is a moment at which fundamental principles are under assault from both the left and the right.” What is so difficult about understanding the wording in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”?
At a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at the American Legion Charles Faust Post 281, Commander Michael McClain told the audience, “I would like in my lifetime to see peace … an ultimate peace where everyone gets along together.” NCBCPS’s curriculum course helps students to understand the Bible’s influence and impact on history, literature, our legal and educational systems, as well as art, archaeology and other parts of civilization.
The soundtrack came together naturally because the three musicians were able to improvise so well together, according to Granelli’s recollection of the event. Religious liberty requires protecting both the right of free exercise for individuals of every faith and the right to remain free from government coercion and promotion of religion. More than 15 million viewers tuned in, and it won an Emmy for children’s programming in 1966, beating out Walt Disney DIS -3.83 % ’s “Wonderful World of Color.” Many of those who sent letters to Schulz and Coca-Cola said that the Biblical content, rare on television even then, resonated. “I am encouraged,” one read, “to see a national company willing to sponsor not only an excellent production but also a Christian one.” Re-aired every year since—more than any Christmas special save “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which debuted a year earlier—the show pushed Schulz’s strip to fresh heights.
That is why, from California and Alaska to Pennsylvania and Florida, 93 percent of school boards approached with a Bible education curriculum voted to implement it. For a contribution of any size, a starter package with a step-by-step guide, all legal data necessary to satisfy the questions of school board members, letters from school districts that have implemented it, the table of contents of the Bible curriculum, and other NCBCPS information will be sent to you immediately. She was Tracy Stratford when she first gave Lucy her voice; a 10-year-old actress who had appeared on The Twilight Zone and several Bob Hope specials. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this Christmas classic and for the sake of preserving the heart of the real Christmas story, below is the transcript version taken right from the 1965 television special, or you can watch the actual biblical clip here on YouTube.
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