Georgia Senate moves to protect Christmas greetings, displays in public schools

A push to protect Christmas trees and “happy holidays” greetings in public schools statewide passed the Georgia Senate on Tuesday.

Questions remained, however, about whether Senate Bill 283 could withstand a legal challenge if it ever became law.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, would allow local school systems to educate students about the history of “traditional winter celebrations” and let students and staff offer “traditional greetings” such as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah.”

Displays involving such symbols as a menorah, Christmas tree or Nativity scenes would be protected as long as they included more than one religion or one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.

Not everyone is sure how clear SB 283 is. The bill doesn’t define what it means by secular symbol. And its line about allowing a display with a secular symbol and one religion have left some, including the Georgia School Boards Association, wondering whether that allows the promotion of a particular religious belief over others.

The measure passed on a 43-8 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.