Skip to comments.Pagan Christmas ritual pressed on young kids
Posted on 12/08/2006 4:46:13 AM PST by Man50D
A public-school handout urging young children in Virginia to attend a "Pagan ritual" tomorrow to "celebrate Yule" is sparking objections from concerned parents.
"Amazing government schools ban orthodox Christianity, but allow an openly pagan organization to proselytize six-year-olds!" one observer who asked for anonymity told WND.
The concern has risen to such a level that the head of the Albemarle district in Charlottesville, Va., admits the policy allowing handouts may change, potentially eliminating them from all organizations.
The flyer in question is from a group called NatureSpirit from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, a Unitarian Universalist congregation that also teaches "Exploring Islam," "Women Weaving Wisdom," "Discovering the Healing Power of Dreams" and other religious subjects.
The specific promotion that went from teachers and principals to elementary-age students in the district states:
"Happy Holidays? Have you ever wondered what 'Holidays' refers to? Everyone knows about Christmas but what else are people celebrating in December? Why do we celebrate the way we do?
"Find out!" the brochure continues. "Come to Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church ... . We'll have an educational program for childeren (sic) of all ages (and their adults), where we'll explore the traditions of December and their origins, followed by a Pagan ritual to celebrate Yule."
The banner also displays three symbols: a cross, a Star of David and a pentagram a star enclosed in a circle often associated with paganism, witches groups such as Wicca, and even Satanism.
On their website, the sponsors say: "Nature Spirit welcomes diverse people of all ages and religious traditions who feel Nature is a vital part of spirituality. They affirm the spiritual teachings of earth-centered and Pagan traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of Nature."
School Board chairwoman Sue Friedman told WND the flyer was distributed because the school was forced to do so, following a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Maryland.
The ruling concluded if one community group were allowed to use a flyer-distribution program at a school, then all groups must be given the same access. The group initiating that case objected to a policy that allowed school officials to arbitrarily discriminate against groups they did not like in that instance, a Christian organization.
The district even made a policy adjustment this fall in order to accommodate that ruling, Friedman said.
"In order to allow the YMCA to tell you about their soccer league, or the Boy Scouts to tell you about their new troop, we have to allow all nonprofits," she said. "That's why we're seeing this flyer."
However, she noted, "that doesn't mean that policy will stay. We've had some real concerns from parents, who don't understand why we would [distribute this]."
Though she didn't reveal numbers, she indicated the concern was enough to attract attention.
Even though the flyer carries a disclaimer that it's not endorsed by the school, "parents think of things that come home to them as somehow being school-sanctioned," Friedman said.
She said it's an issue that has to be worked out in the community stretching over 742 square miles, but ranges from the eclectic University of Virginia neighborhoods in the city to rural communities where there are only 150 students in a school and the roads aren't paved.
Alternatives, she said, are to ban all flyers, or simply allow only those created by school and government officials.
"We were very clear this [policy] was a trial run to see how it went," Friedman said.
The reasoning to allow flyers on a wide range of issues was that in the smaller schools, those facilities provide a core for the community, and to eliminate that as a "communication vehicle" could leave children without information about some opportunities they would have, she said.
But with the current policy, there will be more and more such brochures for her schools to distribute, she noted.
The church website for the flyer sponsor includes information that a recent sermon was "Do We Believe in Sin?" while another was "Here Be Dragons: Approaching the Unknown."
During 2005-2006, the school handled 97 flyer distribution requests, ranging from children's theater and Cub Scouts to summer camps, swimming and softball leagues.
In the appellate opinion from Maryland, Judge Diana Motz concluded giving school officials "unbridled discretion to deny access to the oft-used forum for any reason at all, including antipathy to a particular viewpoint does not ensure the requisite viewpoint neutrality."
In that case, the school board specifically wanted a policy allowing teachers to hand out flyers from groups school officials liked, but that would ban flyers from Christian Evangelism Fellowship.
And that is precisely what the court concluded could not be allowed.
Have a wholly, pagan Christmas
As WND has previously reported, the celebration of Christmas is a major cultural battleground in the U.S., dating back to colonial America when Christians in New England outlawed Christmas, saying it was based more on ancient pagan traditions than instruction from the Bible.
Today, followers of ancient paganism strive to remind the public about the heathen origins of traditions that many may never have questioned.
CircleSanctuary.org is among the Internet addresses run by nature-worshipping pagans. Wiccan high priestess Selena Fox discusses the state of being pagan and celebrating the lengthening of days during the Northern Hemisphere's darkest time of year.
"Yule, the winter solstice, is a festival of peace and a celebration of waxing solar light. I honor the new sun child by burning a[n] oaken yule log in a sacred fire. I honor the great goddess in her many great mother aspects, and the father god as Santa in his old sky god, father time, and holly king forms. I decorate my home with lights and with holly, ivy, mistletoe, evergreens and other herbs sacred to this season. I ring in the new solar year with bells." Fox even provides a list of suggestions on how 21st century citizens can take part in the ancient rituals, to "re-paganize" Christmastime:
Have gift exchanges and feasts over the course of several days and nights as was done of old
Adorn the home with sacred herbs and colors; decorate in druidic holiday colors of red, green and white
Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold and leave it there until next yule as a charm for good luck throughout the year
Have family/household members join together to make or purchase an evergreen wreath
If you choose to have a living or a harvested evergreen tree as part of your holiday decorations, call it a solstice tree and decorate it with pagan symbols
Reclaim Santa Claus as a pagan godform by decorating him with images that reflect his various heritages ranging from the Greek god Cronos (father time) to Odin, the Scandinavian all-father riding the sky on an eight-legged horse
Place pagan mother-goddess images around your home, possibly including one with a sun child, such as Isis with Horus
Honor the new solar year with light light candles, burn a yule log and save a portion for the following year, put colored lights outside your home, and with the popularity of five-pointed stars, consider displaying a blue or white pentagram.
Here in Iceland Christmas has allways been called Jól (same word as Yule), but it is still mostly a christian celebration. I though know of some leftwinged (mostly) atheist who celebrate jól without recognising it as a christian celebration, but as an older solstice celebration.
But thankfully our schools allow children to be taught the proper christian roots of Christmas and f.e. are in many school windows put up decorations celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Best wishes and good luck resurecting christianity to its proper place. Just do not do as we and establish a state church, nothing is more corrupting as to much government influence over religion.
If you have an artificial tree, it's like spitting on the Pagan gods themselves, and you will burn in, well, I don't know where bad pagans go burn in......
Another reason to have a good fake christmas tree. :-)
Is Paganism a religion?
If so, then this violates the First Amendment AS DEFINED BY LIBERALS!!!
Yes. The christians sued because they were being excluded, and they thought it would be great if they could send religious notices home.
Now that another religion is taking advantage of it, some aren't so sure they like the new rule.
What they want is for only the prefered religions to be allowed to send stuff home with the kids, not all the other "odd-ball" religions.
It's the downside to pushing what is really the appropriate position of the state being neutral regarding religion, the state can't then discriminate between religions any more than it discriminated AGAINST a religion.
Some people are happy with a little mixing of church and state so long as it's THEIR church that gets mixed, and not some OTHER church.
There's your problem.
My eldest brother is a college chemistry professor, extremely smart, and a Unitarian. I don't get it. How can you believe in a religion where 2+2=5, or maybe 3.4, or possibly an attractive shade of blue, or "whatever you think it is" and integrate that with being a scientific person?
Gummint skewl ping.
Come and celebrate your pagan roots.
Yule have to see this, to belive this.
Exactly, slippery slope and all that.
So, if the YMCA want to talk about a soccer league, they have to allow the UUers to talk their religions?
Someone who comes to your door for no apparent reason!
Yesterday somebody burned a question mark in our front yard.
Yes, because a christian group sued claiming that if the school allows those other groups to send things home with the kids, they can't discriminate against a religious group. THe 4th US circuit court of appeals agreed with the group, and now if the school allows ANY outside group to send things home, they have to allow ALL outside groups to do so.
So either we are going to hurt all the other organizations that have used this method of communication, or we are going to have to allow Wiccans and Universalists and even Muslims to send stuff home with the kids.
Which frankly I don't see as a big deal, they aren't really TEACHING it in the school, they are just sending announcements home, the parents can do with them what they want.
The groups could do the same thing by mail if they wanted, and it isn't costing the schools anything to allow this, so unless people are really afraid about their kids even knowing about the EXISTANCE of stuff, I'm not sure what the problem is.
But in any case, if you are going to allow everybody to use a service, you really do have to allow EVERYBODY to do so.
It's a FLYER- not a school sanctioned event. As long as ALL groups can pass out flyers- including Christian groups-then people need to get a grip. Sounds like good fodder for kids to take home to discuss with their parents. I would use this to discuss with my kids how the powers of darkness try to appeal to people of faith, to subvert their faith by using "reason".
pagan goddesses= modern day feminists. These "strong" women are the harbingers of evil. They are the messengers of Satan.
Unitarianism gives complete control of the Almighty to the individual. That's why people like it. They can create their own god.
I'm with ya....I don't see the big deal (of course, I'm not religious, so there it is). Just seemed like a very strange manner to get to that law. I wonder if it applies equally to NAMBLA?(/sarc)
You are correct, paganists are not devil-worshippers, or witches either.
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