House vote expected today on 'winter celebrations' bill

House vote expected today on 'winter celebrations' bill

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Sen. Stacey Campfield is the bill's sponsor. Sen. Stacey Campfield is the bill's sponsor.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A bill that would protect Christmas and other holiday celebrations will be voted on by the Tennessee House of Representatives Monday night.

Representative Andy Holt is the sponsor of the bill in the House. It passed the Senate on a unanimous vote.

Senator Stacey Campfield, (R) District 7, is the sponsor of the Senate Bill and told News 2 the purpose is to give teachers and schools protection from possible litigation.

"We have the people with the ACLU always writing threatening letters to our schools," Campfield said. "You've got folks from the Freedom from Religion organization who do the same thing, and say we're going to sue you if you do anything remotely religious."

In 2008 Lakeview Elementary School in Wilson County was sued by the ACLU over Christmas decorations and programs inside the school and classrooms.

"It's ridiculous that we have teachers now who are scared to say, ‘Merry Christmas' or ‘Happy Hanukkah' to a kid for fear of being sued. It should never have come to that in the first place," Campfield said.

The House was expected to vote on the bill Monday evening. If it passes, the "Christmas bill" would go into effect in July.

Texas has passed a similar bill. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and New Jersey are discussing legislation and the Indiana Senate passed similar legislation in February.

As written, the bill would let schools put up displays like nativity scenes, menorahs and Christmas trees.

Sen. Campfield added he wants students and staffers to celebrate Christmas and other holidays without the fear of lawsuits.

The bill goes on to specify that the schools may use those items if the display includes a symbol of more than one religion.

It also says that "a display relation to a traditional winter celebration may not include a message that encourages adherence to a specific religious belief."

We've posted a question about the bill on our Facebook page. Join the conversation at WKRN-TV.

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