Two residents at a Michigan-based senior living center claim that the center’s employees violated their first amendment rights at a Christmas celebration last year.
According to the Christian Post, The First Liberty Institute sent a letter to the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center on Thursday, outlining the allegations made by the two residents and calling for the center to take corrective action.
The Christian Post reports that the incident took place when children from the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center Child Development Center and Preschool’s Great Start Readiness Program visited the Kalkaska Senior Living Center on December 6, 2018. Residents at the Senior Living Center read Christmas stories to the children. The letter mention’s that a resident read Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” without interruption.
Later, Wilma Wills read a book about Christmas traditions to the children. When she finished reading the book, she asked them if they knew “why we celebrate Christmas. One of the Child Development Center teachers interrupted and said, “We won’t go there, Wilma.”
Joan Wilson read “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to the children. When she arrived at the point of the story where Linus quotes from the Gospel of Luke, Wilson tried to summarize that part of the story. The letter alleges that a teacher interrupted her, canceled the visit, and escorted the children out before Wilson could finish the story.
The First Liberty Institute’s letter to the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center accuses the employees of engaging in “unconstitutional viewpoint and religious discrimination.” It also claims that “the teacher allowed those who spoke about Christmas in secular terms to speak unimpeded, but abridged the speech of those who would spoke (sic) to the historical significance of Christmas’s origins.”
First Liberty reminded the center that “although Christmas may be a religious holiday for man, it is also the commemoration of a recorded historical event, celebrated even by non-Christians. And our federal government also observes Christmas as a federal holiday. Even acknowledgments of the birth of Jesus as a part of general acknowledgment of Christmas are permitted. For example, the United States Postal Service issues stamps depicting the nativity.”
The letter asked the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center to remedy the situation by taking two actions. First, it requested that the center provide “written assurance” that all “employees will abide by the Constitution and federal law.” This includes “permitting private religious speech such as that described herein.” It also requested that Joan Wilson and Wilma Wills receive letters of apology.”
First Liberty also threatened to take legal action if the center did not comply and promised “to take any and all necessary legal action” on behalf of the two residents.”
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
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