Recently, students at Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas were planning a class field trip to attend the stage version of “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown” at a local church, and an atheist group known as the Arkansas Society Of Free Thinkers were none too happy about it. It’s my opinion that there probably aren’t too many members of this group who have children, because most parents either love the nostalgic charm of Charlie Brown, and if their personal religious beliefs conflict with Linus and his speech about the origins of Christmas, they probably use that as a “teaching moment.”

We live in a world where our kids are inundated with new television carton characters constantly, and a lot of these characters aren’t the best for our kids. It’s not because of their religious beliefs, it’s because so many kids shows these days are just so one-dimensional. These modern characters are worlds away from the simplistic and sweet world of Charles M. Schulz, that have sparked many amazing conversations with my own kids about the way Lucy Van Pelt and some of the other Peanuts gang treat Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown, at least to this parent, is sort of the original “bullied kid.” When watching the specials with my own children it helps them to relate to Charlie and how even though a lot of the kids around him treat him badly, he stays true to himself and keeps trying. Charlie Brown is an eternal optimist. Plus, I love Snoopy. There are many lessons to be learned from these characters who are over 50 years old, and one of my favorite lessons is that Christmas is too commercialized, and that what matters most is being with the people we love. But because there is a small segment in the cartoon and stage play which talks about the religious origins of Christmas, some people feel it violates religious freedom.  From The Christian Post.com:

Teachers at Terry Elementary School recently sent a letter home to parents that says the play will “expose your child to Christianity” but “if you prefer your child to not attend the program they may stay at school.” The production is scheduled to be held at Agape Church on Friday, Dec. 14, during school hours, and one of the school’s teachers attends the church and is to be a part of the play.

One upset parent told KARK-TV she doesn’t want her daughter to see the play, but is letting her attend out of fear that her daughter will be singled out by her classmates. The mother also contacted the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers (ASF), which believes the school has violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution by exposing students to a play that contains Christian themes.

The “A Charlie Brown Christmas” cartoon was created in 1965 and follows the story of beloved Peanuts character Charlie Brown on his quest to find the meaning of Christmas in the midst of commercialism that often dominates the holiday. In one of the cartoon’s scenes, the character Linus quotes a portion of the Gospel of Luke in an attempt to explain to his friend how Christmas began.

I can understand if you are a parent and some of the messages in the play offend your beliefs, but the field trip isn’t mandatory, you can opt to have your child not attend. I think in an ideal world our kids would be exposed to all sorts of different religions and customs during the holiday season by all of us parents, and even though I can sympathize with those parents who feel A Charlie Brown Christmas is giving their kids the wrong message, I also feel like there are so many other things parents can be offended by that our kids are exposed to around Christmas. People can be angry about their kids being exposed to Charlie Brown, I’ll be over here getting pissy about shit like this:

(image: A Charlie Brown Christmas)