Jesus’ Birthday Censored?

” Christmas is about…Jesus’ Birthday,

giving to others,

reindeer, and Santa!”

This little essay came home in our first grader’s schoolwork folder last Friday.  Our youngest, Levi, is only six years old.  Just about the most adorable thing ever, right?  Doesn’t seeing a child remember the true meaning of Christmas want to melt your heart?

It wasn’t until later, Saturday evening, just three weeks from the excitement of Christmas Eve, that he showed me his assignment.  In school, the class was asked to complete the following prompt:  “Christmas is about…”  Essays are to be reprinted in our local paper, The Morgan Messenger, and posted in the hallways at the school.

NOTE ON BLUE WRITING: The blue ink on the paper was done by Levi after he brought the paper home. I attempted to explain this in a comment below. Indeed those added words in blue were done by a six year old. The black marking out of “Jesus Birtday” was done by an adult.

What you see above, is exactly how his paper was returned home.  However, I can barely bring myself to relay what an adult has added to his paper.  You see… something…,  something very disturbing happened to the creation of my child’s heartfelt telling of what Christmas is to him.  Something has been removed from my six year old’s words as he simply expressed his feelings of what Christmas is about.  He managed to capture the essence of the true meaning of Christmas amongst all the commercialism, the decorations, the hoop-la-la!  Levi stated simply the heart and soul of the season in his first thoughts.  As a parent, it is hard work to compete with Santa-side of this holy time of year, isn’t it?  The fact that he begins by remembering Jesus’ birthday makes this mama so proud.  However, you will be surprised to discover what happened to his words, “Jesus’ Birthday”.

They were edited out –  by the school.

Levi’s paper was sent home with the words “Jesus’ Birthday” marked through with several thick, black, lines.  Not a note from the teacher.  Not an explanation.  Not a comment.

Levi was devastated.  So was I.

Explain that to a child!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:11

Now, a Monday evening after a long day at school, my brave little six year old sits curled up on my lap.  After body slamming his brother off the couch and throwing books at his sister, Levi surprisingly steals a moment to climb on my lap and cuddle – just the two of us.

It’s been quite a day for my little man.  Back to school after expressing his joy that Christmas is about Jesus’ birthday, Levi found himself in the principal’s office with the two other little guys that expressed the same.  What began as a fearful trip down the hall, Levi wondered once more if he was in trouble for his words.  Just as Friday at school, he wondered if he had done something wrong.  Although we assured Levi he did no wrong, this walk to the Principal’s Office terrified my little man.

Fortunately, unknown to him, some adult conversations had taken place.  The first graders were told that they would be able to re-write the assignment AND they would be allowed to write about Jesus.  Levi’s words to me were that “he has to do it over.”

Hummmm.  I know.  Not exactly the joy I had hoped for.  Doesn’t seem fair, does it, if I look at it from his perspective.  For now though, I think I will just sit here and hold him in my lap as long as possible (or, as long as he’ll let me – or, before he no longer fits).

Fortunately, this can be a learning opportunity for us all:  Levi, me, the school, and of course, the individual that censored a child’s Christmas paper.  It is not my intent to generate hard feelings at all; because I truely believe God has a plan in everything, right?  A tough lesson for my little boy, perhaps by hearing about it, you too can be aware of the issues at hand.  Remember, it is our constitutional right to free speech (even when you’re only six).  Also, it is one of our most basic civil liberties to be able to worship as we choose.  Cherish that, please, and don’t ever let your kids forget it.

As for a lesson, well…sometimes adults make mistakes too.  In the meantime, I thought that I would share the following publication:  just in case you find yourself in a similar situation. (I hope you don’t)!


Copyright © Angie Hott, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved


  1. Marie on December 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Angie, thanks for clearing that up. I’m surprised that teacher would be concerned at all about the children including Jesus in their writings. Pretty harmless, I think. And after all, it is the children’s personal viewpoints. She must have gotten confused. It’s against the Constitution for public school teachers to preach religious belief as fact to students (thank goodness!), but certainly does not mean the students themselves can’t express their own views.

  2. Tom on December 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Angie, sadly this isn’t uncommon…it only gets worse into college…and to think…us christians over-pay for this so-called “education”.

    The teacher claims it was a misunderstanding…where did she get her understanding from? What source led her to believe that Jesus was not allowed? Who told her it was not allowed to include the word “Jesus”? Or, where was that documented for her to read? Newspaper rules? School rules? The Principal’s rules? Did other teachers have the same “misunderstanding”? Did you ask other parents in other classrooms if this was the rule?

    My son had to turn a T-shirt inside-out one day in the 8th grade at Hedgesvile Middle School because it had a *GASP!* Christian message on it. It took a letter from a lawyer at the Rutherford Institute to have them cease and desist…only then did they admit that it was a “misunderstanding”.

    These teachers are supposedly well-educated college graduates…what part of “free speech” did they not learn? Did Morgan County provide training on this issue so that it doesn’t happen again? Make sure they get training on this subject and successfully pass a test or no J-O-B. Will new teachers be given orientation to prevent this from happening again? Once trained, the easy excuse of “misunderstanding” is no longer plausible and their true intent is revealed.

  3. Angie Hott on December 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Dear Senator Barnes:
    Thank you for reading the column and sharing your thoughts. I am grateful for your comment! We, too, certainly were surprised to see Levi’s paper with these edits. Unfortunately, the individual was frightful that there would be negative consequences if she allowed the students to include “Jesus” in the essay. She, in no way, disagrees with celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Gratefully, the situation was resolved in a respectful and timely manner by both school and teacher. She completely misunderstood what was permitted and is glad to now know otherwise. I would be interested to know your thoughts on rule 4373 recently adopted by the WV Deptartment of Education. Can you share?
    Merry CHRISTmas to you!
    love, a

  4. Angie Hott on December 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    You know what?… I really don’t know what source lead the teacher to believe that she was not allowed to have the first graders (or any student) write about Jesus. Although I was curious about the basis of her misinformation, ultimately I was more concerned that my child understood that he is not only allowed to share his religious beliefs but it is a cool right that he has to do this! My energies have been more to console his confusion. Only a first grader, he was pretty puzzled why his paper got an edit.
    Oh no! How awful for your son! Good to hear it was resolved… and it sounds as if it was with much more turmoil than our situation. Have you learned of rule 4373? I would be curious to hear your opinion.
    Merry CHRISTmas to you,
    love, a

  5. Tom on December 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    @Angie, I haven’t read that policy yet…I just pulled it up and scanned it quickly…seems they did a pretty good job on defining bullying (many schools include peer pressure or joking as bullying). I have moved out of WV and have not kept up with WV stuff; not even sure how I ended up on this site :)

    Once I read it I will come back and let you know my thoughts.

    I also had a daughter come home from school in tears one day…she was told that her answers on a test about dinosaurs were all wrong; she was the straight “A” student (I taught her that dinosaurs existed at the same time as humans and that a world-wide flood destroyed the dinosaurs)…she was ridiculed by the teacher and classmates…it seems to be a major negative influence on her these passed 15 years :(

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