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Texas Gov. Perry Signs "Merry Christmas" Bill


AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry today signed House Bill 308, which removes any legal risks of saying "Merry Christmas" in Texas public schools.

The bill also allows public schools to use holiday greetings and display religious symbols on school property, so long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.

"I'm proud we are standing up for religious freedom in our state," Gov. Perry said. "Freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion, and people of faith often feel like they can't express that faith publicly. HB 308 works to address that by ensuring that people of all faiths are free to use traditional holiday greetings, and display religious scenes and symbols, even on school property. It ensures freedom of expression where, for many students, teachers and administrators, it's most important."

Houston Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac sponsored the bill, which Bohac says will allow teachers to educate students about the history and roots of different religions.

"I have heard from many constituents who dislike that it is becoming less culturally acceptable to openly celebrate these holidays in the ways past generations have," Sen. Nichols said. "To me, this is a matter of helping our teachers and administrators feel safe talking about these holidays at school without fear of legal action being taken against them, and of letting our children know that it's okay to say 'Merry Christmas.'"

The bill quickly passed through the both chambers before reaching Perry's desk on Thursday. When the House passed the bill, several Santa Claus impersonators were in attendance and rang their sleigh bells.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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