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College campuses are notorious hot beds for first amendment violations. Western Piedmont Community College, nestled in Morganton, North Carolina, joined the ranks of would-be free speech censors when administrative officials rewrote a student group advertisement for a Christmas tree sale, replacing "Christmas" with "holiday." “We cannot market your trees in association solely with a Christian event," the college told the student group who intended to sell Christmas trees to raise money for charity.
The advertisements were sent in the form of text messages. The forced renaming of Christms trees caused backlash from members of the community. The student group was contacted on multiple occasions by individuals refusing to purchase trees specifically because they believed the student group had taken the liberty of calling them "Holiday" trees.
“It’s ridiculous that anyone would have to think twice about using the word ‘Christmas’ as part of a Christmas tree sale,” said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Not only is it perfectly constitutional to use the word ‘Christmas,’ it is unconstitutional to prohibit use of it. This is another perfect example of the immense misunderstanding that far too many college officials have about what the First Amendment truly requires.” Sharp, attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom wrote a letter to Western Piedmont Community College on behalf of the student organization requesting written confirmation that all censorship of the student organization's advertisements have ceased and original language has been restored.
Should we tell the community college that "Holiday" is actually in reference to Holy-day? What would they have called the tree sale if they'd have known that?
Today, the community college responded indicating, "upon further reflection of of this situation... we determined that changing instances of "Christmas" to "Holiday" in advertising materials... was an error. In response to this error, we have changed instances of "Holiday" back to "Christmas."
“Referring to Christmas trees as ‘Christmas trees’ is perfectly acceptable and constitutional. We commend WPCC officials for doing the right thing in working speedily to correct this problem, and we hope other schools in similar situations will follow their example," Sharp said.