During an announcement of the signing of the so-called “Merry Christmas Bill,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) said Thursday that freedom from religion was not included in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.And here's the thing about it: the State of Texas is never going to be forced to defend this law in Federal (or even state) court.
“I’m proud we are standing up for religious freedom in our state,” Perry said. “Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion.”
The new law states that students and school officials have the right to use religious greetings like “Merry Christmas” and display various religious holiday symbols on school grounds.
Local school districts will have to foot that bill.
In Texas, school districts are independent government entities. They are controlled by the Legislature and the Texas Education Agency, but they raise their own taxes, elect their own school boards, and are responsible in court for whatever is done in their classrooms. So, if some school insists a Christmas tree must go up in a classroom, and some parent objects, that school district is going to pay the legal fees to defend that lawsuit in court.
Conversely, if some school district refuses to allow Christmas trees in the classroom, that school district is going to pay the legal fees to defend that position in court, when some parent uses this law to sue the school.
Texas schools are woefully underfunded. The state system for funding schools is a joke, and like subject to further court challenges as it is neither "efficient" nor, I would argue, compliant with equal protection (the formula for deciding which school district gets how much money is incomprehensible). So now, in addition to struggling to find funds to pay teachers, they get to look forward to being caught between people who don't want "Christmas" mentioned at all in the classroom, and people who will demand their right not to be free "from" religion.
And do you think anybody is gonna send Rick Perry the bill for this?