The Buzz

The Buzz: War on Christmas and Confederate angels

jself@ thestate.comNovember 30, 2013 


Just in time for Thanksgiving, a Rock Hill charter school found its holiday concert the site of a debate on whether religious Christmas carols belong in school.

The controversy spawned national attention and a liberty group’s promise to lawyer up.

York Preparatory Academy returned “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World” back to the lineup of its December holiday band and choral concert after they had briefly been removed, The (Rock Hill) Herald reported.

The academy’s managing director, Clay Eaton, told The Herald that “after careful review,” school leaders decided that a “balanced musical program, which included both religious and secular music, best affirmed” the school’s ideals.

After the songs were yanked from the program, the family of a freshman band student contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom – an Arizona-based nonprofit that has a team of lawyers to advocate for “religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”

In a letter to the charter school, the alliance’s attorneys said they “would be happy to defend the academy free of charge.”

The student said the American Civil Liberties Union had threatened the school. Not true, the school’s director told The Herald, adding that he had received a news release a year ago or earlier with the ACLU’s position on Christmas carols in school.

But Victoria Middleton, the ACLU’s S.C. director, told The Herald that the organization did not send a news release or letter to the school.

The ACLU’s website says the organization gets blamed for driving the “war on Christmas” – when, really, it supports the right to celebrate Christmas in public or private. Though the ACLU has fought prayer in school, or attempts to pressure students to adopt one religion over another, it also has defended public school students’ rights to celebrate Christmas and their faith in school, according to a list of court cases on its website.

Common Core: The fight that unifies

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley supports a bill currently in the state Senate that would render null and void the Common Core education standards – reviled by vocal limited-government activists and some lawmakers as a government takeover.

Her support for the bill, confirmed by her spokesman Wednesday, really is no surprise to The Buzz, considering Haley supported an identical bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, in the previous legislative session.

Except that state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, has emerged the most vocal supporter of the current Senate bill, which he has co-sponsored with Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley.

Haley endorsed Bright in 2012, only to berate him publicly for blocking an ethics reform bill Haley pushed for passage this year without success.

Allen Olson didn’t leave the Tea Party, the Tea Party left him

One of South Carolina’s first Tea Party leaders has severed his ties with the conservative movement and is running for Lexington County Council.

Allen Olson, who founded the Columbia Tea Party several years ago, is running for the County Council District 7 seat, which includes Seven Oaks and parts of Irmo.

In the months leading up to the 2012 S.C. Republican presidential primary, Olson was frequently quoted as a spokesman for that group. But he resigned to endorse Newt Gingrich, who would go on to win South Carolina’s primary but ultimately would lose the nomination to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Olson spoke with The Buzz recently. Below is an excerpt of our conversation:

BUZZ: Why are you running for County Council?

OLSON: I think it’s because I’m frustrated with the system and I’m frustrated with the Tea Party and I’m just frustrated all around.

BUZZ: Why are you frustrated with the Tea Party?

OLSON: They’ve gone in a different direction that I don’t think is in line with what the Tea Party started out as.

BUZZ: Such as?

OLSON: Immigration reform. Some of them are taking on social issues, these conspiracy theorist issues, Sharia Law ... . The more issues they take on the further away they get from what it started out as.

BUZZ: When did you cut ties with the Columbia Tea Party?

OLSON: I resigned to endorse Newt Gingrich (in the 2012 Republican presidential primary). I never left at that time. But the more I saw the direction they were going, the more I was disheartened with it.

BUZZ: Do you still consider yourself a member of the Tea Party movement?

OLSON: I consider myself Tea Party with what it started out as, not with what it has become. Ronald Reagan said he never left Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. I guess that’s where I sit with the Tea Party.

Buzz Bites:

Happy holidays from the birthplace of secession! When viewed from Main Street, the new state Christmas tree seems to have an unusual topper – a Confederate soldier. Seems the tree is just a tad too short to cover the Civil War monument behind it. Oops.

Where’s Lee Bright? U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s four announced GOP contenders have been invited to appear together in West Columbia Dec. 3 at a luncheon hosted by the First Tuesday Republican Club of Richland and Lexington Counties. But Bright will not be there. That’s because he’s campaigning out of state in Tulsa, Okla., with the Tulsa 9.12 project. “Spend your lunch afternoon with South Carolina State Senator Lee Bright who will be sending Senator Lindsey Graham home for good!” says an email invite from the group’s president.

Tiger fans? A new political action committee – the Crush Graham Cracker PAC – set out to “sticker bomb” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, hoping for an unlikely coalition of USC and Clemson football fans on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. The group’s treasurer, Gretchen Ramey of Charleston, has launched a fundraising effort to raise $5,000 for the sticker campaign. But, as someone wanting Gamecocks and Tigers to “unite in solidarity,” Ramey’s fundraising page was conspicuously orange.

Staff writers Adam Beam and Jeff Wilkinson contributed. Reach Self at (803)771-8658

The State is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service