Christmas concerts have been a staple of American schools nearly as long as there have been schools in America. At these happy events, children sang and played traditional Christmas Carols like Silent Night and Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem alongside more secular selections like Jingle Bells and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
In more recent times, public schools began weeding the traditional carols out of their programs. They were not “inclusive” enough. Non-believing students and their parents needed to be protected from the religious aspects of Christmas.
However, the war on Christmas is not lost. There are still countless Americans keeping Christ in Christmas. Some are fighting back and keeping carols in Christmas concerts. One such triumph occurred this Christmas season in, of all places, California.
A Child Shall Lead the Way
At the heart of the controversy is a thirteen-year-old girl, Brooklyn Benzel, and her electronic keyboard. The catalyst was her desire to play a traditional piece of Christmas music at her charter school.
South Sutter Charter School describes itself as an “Accredited California public charter school utilizing an independent study and homeschool model.” Thus, it is not a notoriously liberal institution.
For those unfamiliar with such schools, the books, curriculum and teachers are provided by the state. However, the students do most of their work at home. Communication between students and their teachers is usually online. This form of education has proven to be popular with many traditional-minded parents.
Such schools often provide field trips, athletic programs and similar activities. Among the options at South Sutter is what schools used to call a Christmas concert that would take place in a local retirement home.
Brooklyn is taking a piano class. She wanted to participate in South Sutter’s concert. The piece that she chose was Joy to the World. She made an audition video of herself playing the tune and submitted it for approval.
Attempting to Prohibit Joy
The school rejected her submission. According to Brooklyn’s mother, Julianne Benzel, “The education specialist said the song might be deemed inappropriate because it might be too religious. They told me words like savior and heaven might be crossing the line.” The school official added that the school believed that it must “err on the side of caution.”
The school official suggested that Brooklyn play Jingle Bells instead. “Her justification was that it was more culturally appropriate,” Mrs. Benzel said.
Calling Out the Legal Cavalry
Instead of agreeing to the substitution, the Benzels contacted the Pacific Justice Institute in Sacramento. The institute specializes in cases involving “the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.”
After Pacific Justice’s staff lawyer, Matthew McReynolds, contacted the school’s attorney, South Sutter decided to accept Brooklyn’s song of choice. The official told the Benzels that they chose to approve Joy to the World because it was “non-sectarian.”
Congratulations are due to Brooklyn, her mother, and the people at Pacific Justice on their victory. It shows that traditional-minded families can win over the forces of secularism. They only need to protest and stick to their principles. The law does not give the government the right to violate the rights of those who want to celebrate Christ in Christmas.
Go, And Do Likewise
Christians need to defend Christmas, which celebrates the Incarnation of Christ, “who became flesh and dwelt among us.” By this act of love, Our Lord Jesus Christ prepared the way for the redemption of humanity as a supreme act of love.
Brooklyn Benzel’s principled stand shows that one need not sit idly by while a neo-pagan culture removes Christ from Christmas. If a thirteen-year-old girl in California can win a victory, everyone can.