FFRF calls for a “Christmas without Christ” at Indiana school (Jan. 23, 2012)

Greenwood Community School Corporation in Indiana has promised to refrain from allowing staff members to display overtly religious messages after receiving a letter of complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Last December, cafeteria servers at Greenwood Community High School wore red shirts that stated “Christmas without Christ? I don’t think so.” They also offered candy canes to students which contained the proselytizing and macabre false story on the supposed Christian origins of the candy cane. A student reported that other religious messages remained on display in the cafeteria after Christmas, including a statement about prayer in school.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott, sent a letter to Greenwood Community School District superintendent David Edds on behalf of Indiana FFRF members on Jan. 19. Elliott requested that Superintendent Edds investigate the matter. Elliott wrote that the actions of the staff members gave “the appearance of District endorsement of religion over nonreligion” and that distributing the erroneous candy cane story was “incorrect and misleading” and amounted to “proselytizing of students.”

In a Jan. 23 response, Edds assured FFRF that the district is “taking measures to make sure there are not overt religious messages in our schools that are in violation to any federal court decisions.” The student complainant confirmed that the religious items had been removed from the cafeteria.

Likely prompting Edds’ quick reply was the fact that Greenwood Community School Corporation was recently on the losing end of litigation challenging district prayer at graduation. Eric Workman, then a graduating senior at Greenwood High School, sued the school district and successfully won a preliminary injunction halting school-condoned prayer at his graduation ceremony in 2010. Eric went on to receive FFRF’s Thomas Jefferson Youth Activist Award and spoke at its 2010 national convention.

Freedom From Religion Foundation