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FIRST-PERSON: Easter in public schools — the bunny or Jesus?


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (BP) — Easter brings different thoughts and holds different meanings to different people. Some think first of that chocolate Easter bunny that you may get (if you’ve been good, maybe it will even be solid chocolate and not just that thin outer shell with nothing inside but air). Or those marshmallow peeps (my kids love those). Or the Cadbury eggs. But to many, Easter is first and foremost about the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Arguably the most important day in Christendom.

But when it comes to our public schools, we can only talk about the Easter bunny, correct? I mean, wouldn’t it violate the so-called separation of church and state to talk about Jesus in school? Isn’t the ACLU just lying in wait for that to happen so they can pounce? To answer these questions succinctly, no, no, yes.

The courts have long held that it is permissible to objectively discuss the different holidays that are celebrated and what their meaning is to those who celebrate them. Schools may permit their teachers to teach about what Easter represents to Christians, and even — hold on to your hat — read from the Bible when doing so. Our friends at Gateways to Better Education have even drafted example lesson plans (http://www.gtbe.org/holidayrestoration/index.php/1.html). In spite of what the ACLU and its allies would have you believe, this is constitutionally permissible.

And this holds true for any holiday: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. In fact, ADF has written a memo (http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/Content/pdf/2012_Easter_Memo.pdf) that explains the law in this most important area.

And I should add that it is not only legally permitted, it is educationally sound. How can we expect our children to understand our culture, our history, without teaching them the religious aspects? There is no doubt that our country has a great religious heritage. Regardless of how groups on the left try to rewrite history and ignore this, it remains in our literature, our pop culture, our monuments and our buildings. Unless we are to whitewash all of this (which would certainly please some), we must teach our children where we came from, along with the underpinnings of all our freedoms. It has been said that if we don’t know where we came from, we certainly won’t know where we are heading. Just look around, this seems true for our country now more than ever.

So enjoy your (solid) chocolate Easter bunny, right after you get home from church celebrating the resurrection of He who holds it all in the palm of his hand.
David Cortman is senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund( www.tellADF.org). This column first appeared at ADF’s blog.