The war on Christmas is already waging in one Wisconsin city after a school district issued a near-total ban on religious music this coming Christmas season.
The Wassau, Wis., school district informed its music teachers that from now on, singing about Santa is acceptable, but singing about Jesus is prohibited.
Beginning this December they must either perform five secular songs for every one religious song, have a concert with no holiday music at all, or cancel the concert altogether.
"The goal is to make sure that students do not feel coerced into performing songs that make them very uncomfortable," Kathleen Williams, Wausau School District superintendent, said. She said public schools shouldn't endorse any one religion.
But the new order seems to be making people feel uncomfortable. The highschool choir director called off all 15 of the elite master singers concerts.
"This group sings at Christmas programs. We sing for nursing homes, grad schools, and businesses. To do that without Christmas music doesn't make sense," Phil Buch, Wausau West Highschool choir, said.
Many parents agree and are angry about the dissolution of the traditional school Christmas concerts.
"Schools should not establish religion, they should not promote it, but they should not inhibit it," Eric Penniman, a parent, said.
Even the school board appears to have been blind-sided by the new ban on Christmas songs.
"What precipitated this change? Were there complaints? If so, how many and from whom? When did it happen? What kind of documentation do we have? I have not seen answers to those questions," Pat Mckee, Wausau school board member, said.
Superintendent Williams said backing away from religious music should protect the district from being sued. But she didn't mention any lawsuit in particular.
"This is all part of the establishment clause, nothing has to trigger it really, this is what music in public schools or any teaching in public schools needs to follow," Williams said.
Critics say the fight isn't over. The school board will discuss the new music standards and hear from the community at an upcoming meeting that's expected to be standing room only.