August 31, 2009
Dear Mr. Waldvogel:
I read your recent letter to the Petoskey Public School District, and as both a native Michigander and a believer myself, I'm concerned. While I understood the point you made about Thanksgiving, may I suggest that you've possibly compared apples to oranges? You asked,
..if God can be inserted into Thanksgiving either directly or indirectly, why must we refer to Christmas Break as the Winter Holiday Break?
Granted, the Pilgrims at Plymouth certainly believed in and thanked God, but there is nothing in the concept of gratitude that necessarily entails or precludes religious beliefs, so the word Thanksgiving can effectively convey a secular purpose. Christmas, on the other hand, does not share such luxury of neutrality: the word itself contains a specific reference to a specific member of a specific religion – that not all Americans or Michiganders share.
..taking all reference to a higher being out of our educational vocabulary is wrong.
If this was simply a matter of removing "reference to a higher being" from "our educational vocabulary," I wouldn't be writing, but the Petoskey Public School District took all reference to Christianity out of their calendar, and such is entirely in accord with the Constitution and past Supreme Court rulings.
You stated in your email that your motivations are both religious and personal; as such, any competent challenging organization should not have a problem demonstrating violation of the Lemon test (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 1971), as your motivation for amending public policy is clearly not secular. Legal battles are often costly, and in the likely event that the school board should lose this case, money that could be better spent furthering the education of Michigan's children would be effectively wasted on your own personal crusade – a personal crusade that not all believers support, mind you.
I have a difficult time imagining Christ using the following strategy:
..either agree to change the "December Vacation" back to "Christmas Break," in ALL future publications, or I will make a motion to change it at the NEXT board meeting, and raise such a stink, and bring out every redneck Christian Conservative north of Clare, to do so.
This is nothing short of political bullying in the name of Jesus, not to mention disparaging to Christians that live north of Clare. The Bible tells believers to live in peace with others, but your actions are creating dissension and more needless fighting. Is God being glorified?
Make every effort to live in peace with all men… (Hebrews 12:14)
While you and I are certainly free to believe what we want in this great country, equality and respect for those who believe otherwise is what made this country great. For the sake of Michigan's children and the Petoskey Public School District their tax-paying parents fund, I am opposing your crusade, and I will encourage anybody I can to do the same – regardless of their beliefs – or lack thereof.
Jack Waldvogel is on Facebook and his email is: firstname.lastname@example.org