The American Civil Liberties Union does not associate itself with any political party or any religion. As a chapter of the ACLU, Benicia High’s ACLU is here to fight for the rights and liberties of all American citizens and ensure that everyone is treated fairly. The issue of the Christmas tree on a public school campus is not a matter of public opinion or preference; it is a matter of upholding the law in order to provide fair treatment for all. If the tree was purchased using public funds and set up by a class funded by the government, then there are implications that the government is favoring the Christmas holiday, and therefore, the Christian religion. The problem then becomes about context. The tree was placed center-stage in the quad, implying that it holds greater importance than other decorations. If the tree was accompanied, however, with decorations from all holidays, with the intent of educating students of all the holidays celebrated in December, then it would be permissible. A group of symbols representing the different December holidays would together represent the freedom of religion allowed here in the United States.
Benicia High School’s ACLU wants to make every student feel welcome at school. We do not want any student to feel alienated by only acknowledging one specific holiday celebration. The Founding Fathers’ Bill of Rights insured Americans the freedom to practice whatever religion they chose, and that should be celebrated. At an educational institution, what better way is there to celebrate the winter season than to educate the students about other cultures and their own civil liberties? The Benicia High School ACLU encourages an extension of the holiday decorations, rather than a removal.
Erin Robertson and Aidan Harley
Presidents, Benicia High School’s American Civil Liberties Union