Don't adjust your computer screen. You saw that correctly. It's a passage from a religious book called "The Legend of the Candy Cane," which was read by first graders at DeBary Elementary School in Florida this holiday season because it was supplied by their teachers as learning material.
According to WESH 2 News, the book has since been removed from classrooms, as some parents were upset that statement was made that Jesus was white.
A school spokeswoman said: "It was meant to be used as a resource, not to teach religion."
A resource for what, exactly, is unknown. But that public school teachers - this book was allegedly used in all the first grade classrooms at the school, not just one - think it was appropriate not just to discuss Jesus' skin color but Jesus at all is astonishing.
Religion has no place in public schools. None.
Save the blather about the war on Christmas because at least in this country, there is no such thing. Although if there is, Christmas is winning. By a landslide.
If you're offended that your kids can't sing Christmas carols or learn about Jesus in school, send them to parochial school or teach them all of it at home.
There are plenty of other religions besides Christianity, even if they are not practiced by the majority in most areas. Not all non-Christian families want their children to have to learn about Jesus, just as many Christian families might not want their kids being taught about Ramadan, Passover, Kwanzaa, Vesakha or Samhain.
Part of the problem with teaching any religion in public school is that small children might not know better or feel comfortable speaking up if learning about Jesus' skin color or sacrifices doesn't gel with what they've been taught as gospel. Despite being preached to by their religion's clergy or family, there is, in fact, no right or wrong when it comes to religion and everyone is entitled to believe what they want. However, either way, no one should be subjected to learning about any other religion - in public school.
Wish whomever you want a Merry Christmas and yell from the rooftops that Jesus was white. But know that when you say it to kids who don't celebrate it or have been told otherwise, you could be furthering the discomfort they might experience as a minority and making them feel as if they are outcasts for holding a different set of beliefs. Just because you think your tenets are benign and benevolent doesn't mean everyone else does or should, too.
Teaching kids tolerance, respect and sensitivity is awesome. Imparting to them non-secular information as fact and as a matter of course is loathsome and shameful.
Maybe Jesus was white. Maybe he was black. No matter what he was or wasn't, though, save it for a discussion during after-school hours.
-By Meredith Carroll