Residents in Mansfield, Mass. are crying “bah humbug” after the local elementary school cancelled its annual holiday concert and replaced it with a program on anti-bullying.
The holiday production at Jordan-Jackson Elementary School has been a long-time tradition in the community. But last year’s performance drew complaints from some parents who objected to the religious nature of the show.
“We certainly haven’t done away with Christmas in Mansfield,” said Brenda Hodges, superintendent of Mansfield Public Schools. “We just had a little change at that particular school because they had a big initiative on anti-bullying.”
She denied that complaints about religion had anything to do with their decision.
“There were complaints but if we make changes based on a half dozen complaints, I’d be changing every other day,” she said.
So this year’s holiday concert was cancelled and replaced with an anti-bullying production that will make its debut in January – during Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday week.
Hodges said the music instructors chose MLK week “because he was all about peace.”
“They wanted to make the theme around peace, friendship, kindness, be good to your fellow students, and accept differences and be supportive,” Hodges told Fox News.
But don’t expect any yuletide carols at the January show.
“They are not making it a Christmas holiday,” she said. “It’s about peace and friendship – not Jingle Bells.”
The decision to cancel the holiday show has generated lots of outrage in the community.
“I cannot believe that parents would complain about a tradition,” wrote a reader on the local Patch website. “Everything these days has to be politically correct. What is this world coming to when children cannot put on a Christmas play?”
Another reader suggested that individuals who objected to the religious nature of a Christmas program should “stay home.”
“Spineless cowards,” is how one reader summed up the school administration’s decision.
Hodges told Fox News that parents were notified of the change in September – and not one person complained. She said she’s disappointed in the community response.
“I think our parents could take some lessons from our children sometimes – in being kind and respectful,” she said.
As for the loss of a long-cherished tradition?
“It’s not going to happen this year,” she replied. “I guess some people would refer to it as a tradition because it’s been done for a long time.”
In the meantime she said people are more than welcome to attend holiday performances at the middle and high schools.