Danish school cancels Christmas service to protect non-Christians from 'preaching'

A primary school in the town of Graested in Denmark has attracted numerous complaints after it canceled its traditional Christmas service to protect its non-Christian students from "preaching."

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Letbein)Græsted Inn and church, Denmark. 7 October 2009.

In an announcement, Gribskolen head teacher Marianne Vederso Schmidt said the traditional Christmas service was being scrapped in a long-overdue compliance of education laws that ban "preaching" in schools. She also suggested that families can decide if they want to attend a service in private, The Express detailed.

"We took the decision because we have children who are not Protestant," Schmidt explained. "It must be left to the individual families whether they want to privately attend a service."

Gribskolen's move, however, has sparked angry complaints from at least 10 parents. Mette Brüel-Holler said she could not understand why the Christmas service had to be canceled just because other people in the school have different beliefs.

A local pastor also reacted to the decision, expressing fear that Christmas was being stripped of its deeper meaning. Others accused the primary school of hypocrisy, considering that it held a Syria Week several months ago to honor the culture of Graested's Syrian residents.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen's coalition also opposed the cancellation, and Health Minister Ellen Trane Norby said the values connected to Christmas were important to education. A school board meeting has already been set in the hopes that Gribskolen would reverse its decision.

In a similar scenario in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania last year, Centerville Elementary School canceled the performance of "A Christmas Carol" after parents allegedly complained about a line in the script. The line in question included the words said by Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one," Fox News relayed.

In a statement explaining the decision, principal Tom Kramer denied reports that the cancellation of the Christmas play stemmed from the complaints of two families. While he did not delve deeper into the issue surrounding Tiny Tim's controversial line, he hinted that the decision came from their desire to be inclusive of the other cultural and religious backgrounds of their students.