'Merry Christmas' law allows schools to use religious symbols - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

'Merry Christmas' law allows schools to use religious symbols

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Gov. Perry signed the "Merry Christmas" bill into law on Thursday, but how should it be interpreted and how can it exist and still uphold the separation of church and state?

"It's a state law that protects school districts and allows them to use traditional winter holiday symbols at school like Christmas trees or Menorahs and allows them to safely use phrases like Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah without the threat of lawsuit," said Lubbock attorney Fernando Bustos.

The law began after a state legislator picked up his son up from school. He asked him what he did that day and was shocked to hear that he decorated the class holiday tree. 

Bustos says schools still have the final say.

"They're not forced to call holiday trees Christmas trees and they're not forced to put nativity scenes or menorahs in the schools, but this does give them extra comfort," he said.

Bustos says opponents of the law have two main arguments:

"First, there's this same protection in federal law already. They'll also say that this might be creeping towards acceptance of endorsements of religious viewpoints in school systems."

Perry said having freedom of religion does not mean having freedom from religion.

"Religion is a part of peoples' lives here in America. He wanted to make it clear that religion can co-exist in the public square together with other ideas and it's just not going to be harmful to people," Bustos said.

Bustos says regardless of legal challenges, he thinks this law is here to stay. He feels there is a growing desire across the country for similar legislation.

Copyright 2013 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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