Christmas may be more than six months away, but it's already on the minds of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and some lawmakers in the state Legislature.
The governor signed into law Thursday a bipartisan bill removing any legal risks of saying "Merry Christmas" in Texas public schools.
"I'm proud we are standing up for religious freedom in our state," Perry said.
The governor's office said HB 308 ensures that adherence to one particular religion is not in practice, but rather allows the freedom of expression toward religious holidays to be a part of Texas schools.
— Office of Gov Perry (@TexGov) June 13, 2013
Traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or nativity scene, also are protected under the new law, so long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.
The measure's sponsor, Houston Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac, says it will provide schools cover from "ridiculous" lawsuits.
"When I picked up my 6-year-old, first grader from school and found out school districts and teachers felt pressured by political correctness to change the way they refer to ‘Christmas trees' and Santa and holiday music, I had enough. HB 308 protects schools and teachers from ridiculous litigation and restores common sense by placing Supreme Court precedent into Texas Law," Bohac said.
Bohac's bill sailed through both chambers to reach Perry's desk. When it passed the House last month, several Santa Claus impersonators rang sleigh bells in the public gallery.