Christmas Goes Back to School

Dec 4, 2018

ELKHORN, NE -- Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the superintendent of Elkhorn Public Schools in Nebraska regarding the principal at Manchester Elementary School who censored all Christmas holiday symbols. Principal Jennifer Sinclair directed teachers that “we are not to be doing any Christmas or holiday-specific themed activities with students. Santa and Christmas items are not to be on activities or copies,” because the schools must be “inclusive.”

Principal Sinclair issued a comprehensive list of “not acceptable” practices and items as follows: 

“Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets

Christmas trees in classrooms

Elf on the Shelf - that’s Christmas-related

Singing Christmas Carols

Playing Christmas music

Sending a Scholastic book that is a Christmas book - that’s Christmas-related

Making a Christmas ornament as a gift - This assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the thought of, ‘Well they can

just hang it somewhere else.’

Candy Cane - that’s Christmas-related. Historically, the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.

Red/Green items - traditional Christmas colors


Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies” (emphasis added)

The principal’s “acceptable” list included: “gifts to students;” “Snowmen, snow women, snow people” and “snowflakes;” “Gingerbread people;” “Holidays Around the World;” “Sledding;” “Hot chocolate;” “Polar Bears;” “Penguins;” “Scarves, boots, earmuffs, and hats;” “Yetis;” and “Olaf” (the snowman from the movie Frozen

In her directive to teachers Sinclair also stated, “Please reflect on what you’ve already copied, prepped and posted. I’m hopeful we can avoid the discomfort of me directly questioning something you’ve copied, posted and had your kids do. That makes me uncomfortable, and I know it doesn’t feel good. Signed, The (Unintentional) Grinch who stole Christmas (from Manchester).”

The school district responded to Liberty Counsel’s demand letter stating it had “investigated this matter and determined that Principal Sinclair’s memorandum did not comply with Board Policy.”

“We are pleased that Elkhorn Public Schools promptly reversed Principal Jennifer Sinclair’s unconstitutional directive, and required compliance with the Constitution,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The First Amendment does not require elimination of Christmas. Nothing prohibits public schools from teaching objectively about Christmas or other holidays with religious significance, from displaying religious and secular Christmas symbols side-by-side or singing sacred and secular Christmas songs together. The First Amendment prohibits censorship based on religious viewpoint. This outrageous three-page memo by Principal Sinclair was not based on ignorance of the law but hatred toward Christianity and Christmas. Principal Sinclair should issue an apology to her teachers and staff,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. Liberty Counsel provides broadcast quality TV interviews via Hi-Def Skype and LTN at no cost.