A week after the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, a school district in Kentucky putting on a theatrical version of the TV classic has seen fit to omit the climatic scene in which Linus quotes The Gospel of Luke. They did so at the behest of the ACLU. A spokeswoman for the organization put it this way:
It appears the Johnson County School district is committed to honoring its constitutional obligation to protecting students’ freedom of religion and belief. Religious liberty requires protecting both the right of free exercise for individuals of every faith and the right to remain free from government coercion and promotion of religion. School involvement in the planning and promotion of a religious play after receiving a complaint from a concerned student or parent would show disregard for every student’s right to remain free from government imposed religious viewpoints.
How is hearing a kid who sports a blanket reciting a few lines from Luke constitute “government coercion and promotion of religion”? If schoolchildren in this country have survived hearing Linus’ speech on TV for half a century then why can’t a new generation of kids in Kentucky? What are we so afraid of? How can you have “A Charlie Brown Christmas” without Linus’ speech? I imagine the ACLU would prefer a) have Linus come out in favor of gay marriage and propose to Pig Pen; b) have Linus announce he’s transitioning and changing his name to Laila; c) that Linus read passages from the Koran or d) take a page from President Obama’s book and make it about climate change (“tiny trees just need a little love”.)
Yet it is worth remembering that Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz had to fight to keep Linus’ speech in A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965. It would appear that we have to take it upon ourselves to take up Schulz’s fight again in 2015 and beyond.