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Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Posted by
Donna Marsteller
(marsteller@yahoo.com) on
Tue, Dec 18, 01 at 18:37

My daughter's school for the past two weeks has been studying Hannukah and Kwaanza but nothing about the christian celebration of Christmas. I asked my dd if they were going to and she said, You could do it mommy" Well the teacher asked me today if I would come tomorrow and talk for 15 minutes(everyone else had a week) on the birth of Jesus to the class. I have a book called "Red Boots for Christmas" that is really great that I was going to read to them and a coloring page of the manger scene with matt1:21 on it. These are first graders and I only have 15 minutes to do this, so you christian mommies out there do you think this would be good or can you suggest something else? you can read the story online( I don't recall the link) Thanks!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Excellent idea! Your dd's teacher has courage to mention J.C. in school. Just don't let the ACLU know what you're doing - the school would probably be sued!


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Well, I figure my dd had to spend a week learning about Hanukkah and another week learning about kwaanza. Now I will get to spend 15 minutes on why we celebrate Christmas. The ACLU can bring it on!


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

My daughter learned all about Kwanzaa in school last week and all about Hanukkah the week before, even a nice song!
But nothing about Christmas at all. I asked another mother who helps in the school a lot, and she told me it was "frowned" upon to talk about Christmas at school. It seems to me that there should be a standard rule, either a certain amount of time dedicated to EACH holiday, or no discussions at all.

Good luck with your 15 minutes -- I think you should request more time !


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I don't think the religious aspect of Christmas or Hanukah should be discussed at school. Kwanzza is not a religious holiday so it is a little different.

Mommabear


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I think the religious aspects of *all* of them should be discussed at school. If you are giving each equal time, why is there a problem? I do feel that Christmas should be given as much time as Chanukah, Kwanza or Ramadaan (sp?) I think it is important in our diverse culture to know about other religions and beliefs so as to be more sensitive and open. However, I do not feel that one should ignore their own beleifs because they are not PC....
Just my $.02 worth.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

There is really not that much of a religious aspect to Hanukkah. It's the story of the temple being rebuilt after the Greeks destroyed it. The story that was read to my son's preschool class about Hanukkah and about Kwanzaa had no religious aspect to it at all. It was all about family, traditions and cultural differences.

Perhaps the reason less time is given to Christmas is because it's EVERYWHERE. A Christian child could easily survive the season without having Kwanzaa or Hanukkah shoved down his throat, but it's not that way for children that don't celebrate Christmas.

Separation of church and state - whether you think it's correct or not, it's the law. I have NO problem with my children learning about other cultures or customs, they can color all the Chrismas trees, stocking and santas they want, but give my kid a picture with some scripture on it to color in public school and I'll have that teacher fired and the school district in court faster than you can say "Merry Christmas".


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

The problem of teaching religion in school is Who is going to do the teaching? What will they teach? Jewish parents do not want thier kids taught that Jesus Christ is the saviour because that is not what they believe. Christians don't want teachers telling thier kids that Jesus Christ was not the savior either. Who gets to say what, to whom and with what emphasis? It is not appropriate school material. It should be taught at home or at a place of worship.

Religion does not belong in government schools. It is the law of the land. It does not matter if it is the Christian, Jewish, or some other religion. It is unfair for the children to have some teacher's religious beliefs taught to them and it is unfair for the teachers to be expected to teach religious beliefs that they do not agree with.

Unless I understand Kwanzaa incorrectly, it is NOT a religious holiday but a cultural family celebration which is entirely different from a Christian Christmas, a Jewish Hanukah, or a Moslem Ramadan which are all religious in nature. Families celebrating Kwanzaa also celebrate the religious holidays of the season, whatever they may be.

Mommabear


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Even as a devout Christian, I agree with Arabella. I feel this way because I think it's a slippery slope. The minute they start giving equal time to Christmas, you better be prepared when they want to talk about the pagan Winter Solace. I'm just not ready for my third and fourth grader to hear about that. So, while I wish they were in a Christian school, they aren't and it is what it is: a secular school and it should stay that way.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Wow, didn't mean to start a fight here. The teacher is teaching all the ways different cultures celebrate in the winter. I shared how my culture, as an american christian, celebrates the season and why we do the things we do. I read the book, gave them the picture(minus the scripture) and we sang some traditional Christmas carols. As far as Christmas being *shoved* down peoples throats. If you are talking about the material aspect of it then I agree but as far as the spiritual aspect I don't agree. I spent all night trying to find coloring pages that were cute on different religious aspects of Christmas and it wasn't easy, but there were plenty of hannukah pics and even kwaanza pics. Most Christmas pics were of santa and stockings,etc. I only got 15 minutes to share our customs, other nationalities had a week. My daughter has been singing a driedel song and playing with one for a week. If you would have a teacher fired because a mother of a student took the time to share their customs and celebrations than I think that is ridiculous. I am not going to have the teacher fired because my dd has a dreidel. As far as the wiccan thing, that is not a mainstream thing. Christmas and Hannukah are, so if we're going to learn about one then why not the other also. The teacher is not infuencing the children or pushing anything on them. They seem to really enjoy learning about all of it. Anyway, back to reason for my op I found what I needed and everything went well.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Donna, you speak of Christmas and Hanukkah as if they go hand in hand. They don't. Hanakkah, contrary to popular belief isn't a "Jewish" Christmas. Christmas is about the birth of Christ, the very thing that makes Christians Christians. Hanakkuh is not a religious holiday. It's a time for family and and religion has very little to do with this celebration. Learning about different cultural traditions and customs is not teaching religion. Now, if your children were taught about the Passover, you might have a valid arguement, but here you don't. In my home, we light the Menorrah and play with a dreidel. It does nothing to take away from my Christianity, it simply celebrates another miracle. And, as other's have pointed out, Kwanzaa has NOTHING to do with religion in any way. Just as our children all learned about the first Thanksgiving, they can learn about Kwanzaa. It's just a matter of culture not religion.

You also stated that other "nationalities" got a week but you only got 15 minutes. Since when is Christianity a nationality?

I have no problem with my kids learning about the secular aspect of Christmas, just don't start telling them about the religious aspects of it. It doesn't belong in public schools. I'll tell my children that Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, not the schools.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Donna:

Discussion, not fight. :) We're allowed to disagree right? I am glad everything went well at school.

If a teacher tried to teach your child that JC wasn't the savior wouldn't you be upset? Well that's what it is like for a non-Christian parent who has the birth of JC as savior forced on their kids. I'm just trying to give the issue perspective for you so you can see why some people feel that this is not an appropriate topic for school.

Mommabear


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I didn't mean to call Christianity a nationality, that was my mistake. To get things straight, I didn't hound this teacher to do this, my daughter asked her about it and she asked me if I would mind doing it, I said no. I was not there to shove christianity down anyone's throat, I was there to show what our customs where at Christmas and why we do them. Whether people like it or not Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth(hence the Christ in the name) and a majority of people in the country celebrate it. She wanted to teach the kids the different customs and celebrations we have in America. A christian Christmas is part of that. As for the Thanksgiving celebration, the reason for Thanksgiving was because the pilgrims were trying to find religous freedom and came to our country. Thanksgiving was their way of thanking God for His provision. That was not taught to the kids at school. I did not think I was doing anything horrible by doing this and I still don't. I also don't think of Hannukah as a jewish "christmas". I also never said I thought kwaanza was a "religious" holiday. They are celebrations that different groups of people have as is Christmas. I don't believe I asked for anyone's opinion on whether this was ok with them or not. We all do what we think is best and I really don't appreciate the attacks. God bless you and Merry CHRISTmas.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I didn't see any attacks on you. I thought we were just having a discussion. Sorry if you didn't ask for people's opinions. This is a public BB and we can say whatever we please. It doesn't matter if you asked or not.

This is the first line of your first post: "My daughter's school for the past two weeks has been studying Hannukah and Kwaanza but nothing about the christian celebration of Christmas." Just the fact that you put Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in the same sentence as Christmas tells me you know very little of either of those. Comparing Christmas to Kwanzaa and Hanukkah is like comparing apples and oranges. I think that's why some of us took exception with your post. Nobody was attacking you personally, we were disagreeing and trying to educate you.

Happy Holidays Donna.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Donna:

I don't think you were doing anything horrible. The teacher is responsible for what is taught in the classroom. The way I see it you were just trying to help the teacher out and be an involved parent in your child's school.

Nothing I said was meant to attack you. I was trying to show why I think the discussion of Christ's birth does not belong in school. I was also trying to put some perspective to something that seems very innocent to you, but others may feel is threatening. Since a majority of people in this country celebrate Christmas sometimes it is hard for Christians to understand why others find things inappropriate for school.

Please accept my apologies for any hurt feelings I may have caused. That was not my intention.

Mommabear


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I'llnevertell, I was comparing the three as winter celebrations not as equivalent religious holidays. If you can tell what I know from just a sentence I typed in quickly on a message board then I am impressed. As far as educating me, give me a break. Reread the post, the kids are learning the different customs and celebrations that happen during the winter. Whether you like it or not, Christmas is one of them. I think it's a little ridiculous that talking about Christmas has become such a taboo. I'm sure satan is thrilled. As far as the jewish children hearing that some people think of Christ as God's son. I would think that by now they know there are other beliefs out there. This is not Afghanistan or China but sometimes it seems as if we are just as oppressed in regards to religion. I believe if we are going to live here with all the different beliefs and customs it would do our kids a better service to educate them on these things. I do not believe it should be the schools responsibility but at the same time if someones parent wants to come in and talk about their customs and celebrations I am fine with it. BESIDES all that, I gave a brief presentation on why we celebrate Christmas, I did not tell them the steps to salvation or that all the kids in the class who didn't believe in Jesus were going to burn in hell. I told them basically it was for US a celebration of Jesus's birth and what our customs were.


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RE:; Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Mommabear, no hurt feelings, no need to apologize. I appreciate your input.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

My my Donna, you sure are getting defensive. I didn't see anything wrong in what anybody responded to you. You are flying off the handle for no reason at all.

Now, calm down, drink some eggnog and have a Merry Christmas.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I think that there is a significant distinction to be made between teaching religion and teaching about religion. Teaching that Jesus is the savior is inappropriate in a public school environment, but teaching that Christians believe that Jesus is their savior seems perfectly appropriate. The problem is that teachers are people with their own biases and may not always realize when that line is being crossed. We have so little control over what is presented to our public school students, and how it is presented, that it amazes me how many people still turn their children over to this institution year after year. I find the way the schools are used for propaganda purposes (to further particular social agendas) far more alarming than the introduction of different religions.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Well as a Christian, I would NOT want my kids to be told Jesus was not the son of God. (thats why my kids are in a Christian school!)

I am always conflicted on this issue because while I want prayer in school and such, I certainly DONT want my kids learning other things, so I guess seperation of church and state is needed. I do wish in high school they would offer religion classes for kids to pick from.

Sorry, think I got off topic.

Anyway, good for you Donna for taking up the challenge and sharing the real meaning of Christmas with the kids. Right or wrong on how the teacher did it, Im surprised you got to share it at all in the secular public schools...so kudos to you!


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

My son is in the tenth grade, public school and is studying the bible as literature. This is not an elective; he is in advanced English Lit.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

"I do not believe it should be the schools responsibility but at the same time if someones parent wants to come in and talk about their customs and celebrations I am fine with it. "

--even if that parent is a practicing Wiccan?

I'm not trying to provoke you, or attack you, but I do think -- like Mommabear and I'llnevertell -- that the very people who are so quick to defend religion in the classroom are the same as those who are ready to exclude religions that don't fit with their idea of mainstream.

Call it religion or a winter solstice, the pagan holiday is in winter, so it would meet the teacher's criteria.

This is a really hard issue. While I am completely against the teaching of religion in the classroom (I do not feel that anyone other than DH and I -- or someone we select -- have the right to instruct DS on religion), it is very difficult to do some of the teaching of culture and diversity that is SO important without infusing some aspects of religion. If an art class makes replicas of African tribal masks, shouldn't they know about the function of those masks in a religious ceremony? And, equally, if they're studying Thanksgiving, then by all means they should hear about religious persecution and the role of Christianity.

However -- and I know I'm going to get flamed for this -- in a country that privileges Christianity over all other religions, has federalized Christian holidays (think about it -- do you get Yom Kippur off?), where the president invokes religious rhetoric to justify war mongering, and where I see people driving around with "one country, one God" bumper stickers, I get *really* tired of Christians complaining that they're somehow persecuted.

Sorry if that gets anyone po'ed. I was raised in a Christian church, am married to a some-times Buddist, don't practice myself (more agnostic than anything), but try to remain open minded about religion. However, it certainly doesn't seem that Christianity is in any kind of danger of being under-exposed here.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Yet, we have come so PC in our contry that in the stores here where I live (Central Southwestern Florida) the signs all say, "Happy Hannakuh, Happy Kwanza, Happy Holidays," without the word Christmas anywhere in site.....


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

KerryClem:

Every town where I live has Christmas lights up, Santas and candy canes hanging from the light poles,etc. I am not complaining because I love the way it looks during the holidays. It is very festive and pleasant. It is also paid for by public funds. There is no way Christmas is in any danger of being under exposed. Perhaps your town government has just gone overboard?

Mommabear


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Actually it doesnt matter if Christ or Christmas is ever even mentioned...most everyone, from religion to agnostics know the meaning of what we are celebrating...that alone speaks volumes to the true meaning and celebration of it, regardless how many santas and other materialistic things are thrown into the mix.

More people go to church during Christmas that are not even religious than any other time of year.

Id say we are not in jeopardy of losing sight of the true meaning even if the secular society would like to.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Donna,

When discussing Christmas with your dd's school did you tell them about the birth of Christ and that this is a belief, not a fact? I have no problem with my children being educated about christianity as long as it as presented as a theory and they are told that there may be many other theories. If a child were told the story of the birth of Christ in a public school and asked if it were a true story the appropriate answer should be something like "It might be, but no one really knows and lots of people belive differently and they could be right. We really don't know". Most Christians aren't willing to admit this, which is why I have a problem with teaching christianity in public schools.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

What in *interesting* discussion...yes, Christmas is when Jesus was born (in my defense on what I'm about to say, I am a Christian, and I do celebrate the 'traditional' Christmas...) BUT Christmas as we know it, with the lights, etc. actually started as a Pagan holiday(unless my college religion professor was wrong, which is possible, she was a Wiccan!). ANYWAY, just a little input..oh, and Lisa, to Christians, it is a FACT, not just a belief.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

The fact that Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph was born on a summer (in that hemisphere) night is a fact. Whether or not he is Christ is the part that is left to theory, as are the stories about the wise men and the lack of a room at the inn. Even non-Christians agree that Jesus was a real person, but they chose not to believe that he was/is the Savior, but rather just another Prophet.

As far as Christmas lights and candy canes being up in my town, they are. But, if you read my post I said that the word Christmas is not seen. In other words, there is no problem with the secular part, but Heaven forbid someone should mention Jesus in public in relationship to Christmas.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

lol@kerry...you should come to the "bible-belt!" I'm willing to guess that half the kids here have never heard of Kwanza, and we don't have *any* jewish temples or anything like that...(I'm thinking we only have 1 (*maybe* 2 ) Catholic churches! :D...I enjoy being able to freely talk about my faith, but feel a little sorry for the people who aren't willing to learn about other cultures...


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I'm glad we're keeping this discussion above-board : )

I'm just wondering what's wrong with saying 'happy holidays' in public? I don't know if the person in the grocery lane celebrates (secular) Christmas, Christian Christmas, Kwanza, Ramadaan, Hannakuh, Winter Solstice ... so if I say 'Happy Holidays' I'm simply being sensitive and inclusive.

At church/synagogue/mosque/temple, or with someone you know, it may be perfectly appropriate to reference a particular celebration. But I can't understand why someone would want to *not* be sensitive to other people's beliefs and customs.

Saying 'happy holidays' is no more of an offense to Christians than saying 'merry Christmas' is to non-Christians. It includes everyone. And, especially at this time of year, shouldn't we be striving to spread happiness and come together rather than making people feel excluded and stigmatized?


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Kara, you are definately right to mention that...I've noticed that with my business dealings, I automatically say "Happy Holidays" unless I know the person personally...but I'm always thinking that it includes the new year as well...


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Kara -
I have no problem with saying to a stranger, "Happy Holidays." As a matter of fact, that is usually what I do say so as to be sensitve to the differences. My whole point is the stores here have signs that say, "Happy Hannakuh (I know I spell it different each time - I'm sorry,,,,)", "Happy Kwanza, " & Happy Holidays, but there are NO sogns that have the word Christmas on them. THat is my gripe - we are being so sensitive that we are completely leaving out the Christian celebration of Christmas..... Why can't they say Merry Christmas as well as the rest?


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

We should definitely be trying to spread some happiness and peace. Did you know that 1000 children were orphaned (they lost BOTH parents) in the WTC attack? And that about 10,000 lost one parent in the attack? The victims were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Wiccan, etc. What a sobering thought.

I believe that the greatest commandment is that we should love one another. Not only those who worship and believe the same as us but everyone. I am thankful that we live in a country where we can exercise our religious freedom and have freedom from religious persecution.

As to the original post, I don't see any way that the Christian meaning of Christmas can be presented without mentioning Christ. And it is true that you would be treading on "thin ice" if a child were to complain since it is not student initiated. It would be better if one of the students presented it, I think. Students do have the constitutional right to free speech even when they are in school, but teachers and parents must be careful as it is seen as proselytization. We had a school bus driver in my district who listened to Christian music while she drove the bus. She had to stop because she had "a captive audience"... This is a very interesting thread!


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Kerry, If I might jump in here. My thinking is, and it could be wrong, the reason they specifically mention Hanukkah and Qwanzaa and not Christmas might be because Hanukkah and Qwanzaa are not religious holidays, but Christmas is. I've never noticed any store displaying signs saying "Good Yom Kippur" because that is a religious holiday. You see what I mean?

I'm not saying it's wrong or right, I'm just explaining why they might be doing it this way.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I'm sorry - regardless of what has been posted here, I can't see how you can't count Hannakuh as a religious holiday. I am even going to ask my group of Jewish friends about this again tonight, but from what all of them have told me, it is very much a religious holiday.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Actually, Rose is more right than wrong. While Hanukkah is an important holiday, it's definitely a secular holiday. The same can't be said for Christmas. We don't even have to go to temple during Hanukkah, except of course for the Sabbath. This is much more a family holiday than a religious one.


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I am Jewish and I consider Hanukah a religious holiday. After all it is about the miracle that happened in the temple allowing the oil to last 8 days when it should have only lasted one.

It is a MINOR religious holiday and I think much more is made of it because it falls near Christmas. Jewish parents often make a big deal out of celebrating Hanukah so thier kids don't feel left out of all of the celebrating that is done around Christmas.

I don't think you can call Hanukah a secular holiday.

Mommabear


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

This has been a very interesting thread to follow!
Speaking as a Christian, I know that Christmas is based in religious history. But I think Christmas - the holiday that is - (despite the name) is becoming very secular! :-)


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Interesting Subject!

I am 100% Christian. I believe in Jesus was born of a virgin birth over 2K years ago, rose again and reigns at the right hand of the Lord today and will come again! That being said

It is my opinion that if schools are going to "present" certain customs/beliefs that ALL should "presented". However, I would not want schools to "teach" customs/beliefs. There is a difference in teaching and presenting.

It is my job as a parent to TEACH my child about our beliefs. I would not want the school to do it.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Terra


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

I haven't been able to check the forum d/t a mishap but I still believe what I did and how I presented it was fine and in keeping with everything else the kids were learning. I can't keep up with all the responses but I do want to say to the person who say she hears christians say they aren't 100% sure that Jesus really is the Messiah, I believe He is and every *true* christian I know also does. I hope everyone has a safe and happy CHRISTmas/holiday season!!!


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Donna,

I think you did a great job. You presented YOUR views and that was it. You did not tell the children that the miracle of the oil burning for 8 days did not happen. You simply told of the miracle YOUR family believes in and celebrates. I think it's great that all views were presented and respected.

Peace, and Happy Holidays to ALL!

Gingersnap


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RE: Presenting the christian meaning of Christmas

Interesting topic, especially since I am reading this on Christmas morning! I have my firm religious beliefs. I feel it is important for children to grow up knowing and understanding that all the world does not believe the same as they do. It instills tolerance of other peoples differences. That doesn't necessarily mean that I feel they should be taught this in the public schools. This is really the job of the parents and the leaders of the institutions the parents take their children to recieve their religious training. When a child understands what others believe it can give a sense of understanding of why their family believes the way they do. But tolerance of others and respect for the beliefs of other is something that does need to be taught. How one does this is a public school situation is tricky. I hope when you went to speak about Christmas, you explained that there are many branches of Christianity, such as Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, etc. and that they all believe that the birth of Christ marks the beginning of God's revelation of the path to salvation. I hope you finished that everyone's individual beliefs should ALWAYS be respected, whether or not they celebrate Christmas. Afterall, the person who's birth you were explaining taught tolerance via non-judgementalism.


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