'Tis the season; Anti-holiday hysteria hits again.

PositionEDITORIAL - Editorial


It's the season of peace, of giving, of goodwill toward all mankind. Unfortunately for Donna M. Pierce, it also is the season in which professional offense-takers, out of ignorance or spite or both, are poised to denounce any public expression of the spirit of the season as an unconstitutional endorsement of a religion.

So on Friday when the principal of the Samoset School in Leominster put up a "giving tree" that pupils could decorate with hats and mittens for distribution to needy families, she was barraged with complaints from parents and staffers who considered the tree an inappropriate holiday symbol.

Such complaints defy common sense and constitutional law.

For starters, the purpose of the "establishment clause" is to bar an official state religion, not to mandate unrelieved secularism or to expunge all religious symbols or references from public life.

For laypeople, the case law can seem confusing. A menorah or nativity scene erected at city hall would be barred if displayed alone, for example, but is acceptable if displayed with a...

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