Nebraska Principal Tries to Ban Candy Canes, Claims They’re Shaped Like “J” for Jesus
A Nebraska elementary school principal was placed on administrative leave Thursday after banning a slew of Christmas-related items like reindeer and Christmas trees over religious concerns and candy canes, which she claimed are shaped like a “J” for Jesus Christ.
Manchester Elementary principal Jennifer Sinclair sent a memo to parents and students about what was acceptable and unacceptable Christmas decor, according to Liberty Counsel, a group that focuses on religious freedom.
In the memo she informed them that candy canes were off limits because “Historically, the shape [of the candy cane] is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of His resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.”
“I come from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in schools, as over the years in my educational career, this has evolved into the expectation for all educators,” Sinclair wrote in the memo. “I have unknowingly awoken a ‘sleeping giant’ with many of you. I apologize for the stress that ‘Christmas/holiday/Grinch/Santa/tree’ emails and conversations have caused you.”
The list essentially banned any Christmas-specific decor or activities, including Christmas carols and music, reindeer, Elf on the Shelf, and red and green items, but it allowed for non-Christmas winter imagery such as yetis, polar bears, penguins and “snowmen, snow women, snow people, snowflakes”:
Gifts to students
Students making gifts for a loved one
Snowmen, snow women, snow people, snowflakes
Holidays around the world – purposeful presentation of information to teach
about different cultures
Scarves, boots, earmuffs, and hats
Olaf – Frozen
Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets
Christmas trees in classrooms
Elf on the Shelf
Singing Christmas Carols
Playing Christmas music
Sending a scholastic Christmas book
Making a Christmas ornament as a gift – This assumes that the family has
a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the
thought of, “Well they can just hang it somewhere else.”
Red/Green items – traditional Christmas colors
Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies
Free speech advocacy group Liberty Counsel, which posted the memo online, sent a letter to Elkhorn Public Schools demanding that the ban be reversed, claiming it “violates the U.S. Constitution by showing hostility toward Christianity.”
District spokesperson Kara Perchal said Thursday that Ms. Sinclair was put on administrative leave and the ban had been reversed, adding that the memo did not “reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school,” The Kansas City Star reported.
“The District has since clarified expectations and provided further direction to staff in alignment with District policy. This issue was limited to Manchester Elementary School and did not arise at any other schools within the District. As of Thursday, December 6, Principal Sinclair has been placed on administrative leave. Due to the fact that this is an ongoing personnel issue, the District cannot comment further.”
An attorney for the school district also responded to Liberty Counsel saying he “will work with staff to correct any erroneous communications and clarify any misunderstandings,” The Star reported.
Ironically, Sinclair’s objection to candy canes as a representation of Jesus Christ was based on a mistaken belief, Snopes reports. No evidence suggests that the ubiquitous holiday candy treat has its roots in any religious symbolism.
According to ThoughtCo, candy canes were originally white sticks and were not present until the 17th century. The stick was bent into the “J” shape to represent a shepherd’s staff around the 1670s. The first candy cane with red and white stripes appeared after 1900