VIDEO: The 12 Bans of Christmas

Campus Reform Reporter

  • From our office to yours, Merry Christmas!
  • With so many schools across the country taking steps to ensure that holiday celebrations are devoid of any reference to Christmas, we here at Campus Reform simply couldn’t resist the urge to poke a little fun at the situation. And in the spirit of the season, we could think of no better way to do so than with an old-fashioned Christmas song.

    Drawing on policies and guidelines issued by colleges in almost every region of the country, our “Twelve Bans of Christmas” is intended to humorously highlight the ridiculous lengths that some school administrators have gone to in their efforts to promote inclusivity.

    We laugh only to keep from crying.

    The First Ban of Christmas: The colors red and green

    In the interest of conveying an “inclusive holiday spirit,” Ohio State University suggested that students and staff avoided using the colors red and green in their decorations, because they could be interpreted as connoting Christmas to the exclusion of other winter holidays.

    It appears, however, that the inclusive guidelines have been removed. It is unclear why.

    The Second Ban of Christmas: A nativity scene

    While it is not an outright ban, the University of Wisconsin-Extension instructs members of the school community not to erect stand-alone Nativity displays.

    “The display of nativity scenes and menorahs has generally been upheld by courts against legal challenges if they appear as part of a larger display devoted to the celebration of pluralism and freedom, or are used to promote tolerance and respect for diverse customs,” the guidelines state. “However, any holiday display with an overtly religious symbol (such as a nativity scene or a menorah) should include at least one other religious symbol from a different religious tradition.”

    The Third Ban of Christmas: The mistletoe

    As part of a primer on “ Fire Safety Guidelines for Holiday Decorations,” Cornell University also lists “Guidelines for inclusive seasonal displays.” In addition to decorations with religious connotations, such as angels, crosses, and Stars of David, the document also identifies mistletoe as a display that is “NOT consistent with either University Assembly Guidelines or the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.”

    The Fourth Ban of Christmas: Secret Santa

    As part of its list of suggestions for hosting holiday celebrations that are “sensitive and respectful to individuals who choose not to participate,” the State University of New York-Brockport encourages students and faculty to “consider a grab bag instead of a ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange.”

    The Fifth Ban of Christmas: Religious Christmas songs

    At James Madison University, the student government informed a student a capella group—at the last minute— that they would not be allowed to sing “Mary, Did You Know?” at the school’s annual tree-lighting ceremony because the song represents a specific religion. The tree, you see, was not a Christmas tree, but rather a “unity” tree.

    With insufficient time to prepare a secular song for the event, and little interest in abandoning its Christian theme anyway, the “Into Hymn” ensemble withdrew from participation.

    The Sixth Ban of Christmas: The Star of David

    Going a step further than the UW-Extension guidelines, the University of Kentucky issued a blanket prohibition against the public display of any religious holiday decorations, including Nativity scenes, menorahs, crosses, and the Star of David.

    The Seventh Ban of Christmas: The cross and crucifix

    At the University of Mary Washington, employees are allowed to place holiday decorations in their work spaces, but those decorations must be secular in nature unless strict conditions are met. Only in a private work space, which is neither shared with other employees nor accessible to “client, customers, or the general public” are employees allowed to placed “holiday decorations with religious content.”

    The Eighth Ban of Christmas: Menorah and Dreidel

    The guidelines issued by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville have perhaps attracted the most negative attention of all. In order to “build upon workplace relationships and team morale,” the school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion recommended that holiday parties should never include religious or cultural games such as “dreidel,” and should also avoid “inappropriate” features like Secret Santa.

    [RELATED: Lawmakers: U. of Tenn. Diversity Office a ‘national embarrassment’]

    Under pressure from state lawmakers, however, administrators have since pulled the guidelines from the school’s website.

    The Ninth Ban of Christmas: The name of Jesus

    In addition to other types of religious decorations, Missouri State University also identifies “drawings of Jesus or Mohammed” as “examples of religious items which would generally be inappropriate for use in holiday decorations in common areas.”

    The Tenth Ban of Christmas: Religious icons

    As part of its efforts to promote diversity on campus, Rowan University’s Office of Equity and Inclusion published guidelines informing employees that “office decorations are allowed as long as no obvious, religious icons are displayed,” such as Nativity scenes or menorahs.

    The Eleventh Ban of Christmas: The workplace Christmas party

    The University of Illinois-Springfield took things a step further than most schools, directing their advice to employers generally and offering tips to “make sure your Holiday party isn’t a Christmas party in disguise.”

    “It used to be that being inclusive meant sending out PC ‘Happy Holidays’ greeting cards and changing Christmas office parties to ‘Holiday parties’,” the document notes. “Today, it’s about more than just changing labels and titles. It’s about using a time to be with friends and family to build understanding and awareness about others.”

    For those who might find the recommendation to research and celebrate non-Christmas holidays overly burdensome, UI-S suggests simply hosting a New Year’s party instead of a Christmas party, observing that “this type of party can get everyone on board.”

    The Twelfth Ban of Christmas: Stars atop a tree

    Although decorations featuring a “Santa Claus figure and dreidel” meet the University of Richmond’s guidelines for holiday decorations, placing a star atop a tree is “not consistent with either these guidelines or the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.”





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