I’m sure you’ve all heard by now about that school in Wisconsin that Falwell’s legal group threatened with a lawsuit because they allegedly changed the words to “Silent Night” to be “Cold in the Night”. Bill O’Reilly has been fuming all over the place about this. Mathew Staver, of the misaptly named Liberty Counsel and part of Falwell’s “Friend or Foe” campaign, threatened a lawsuit against them saying
People are outraged. We sent a demand letter asking them to immediately change the song and allow the actual lyrics of “Silent Night,” and if they do not, if they insist on this ridiculous course of action, we’ll file a federal lawsuit.
And of course, Bill O’Reilly had to raise the nonsense level even higher:
In Wisconsin, an elementary school changed the name of ‘Silent Night’ to ‘Cold In The Night.’
There’s just one problem – it’s all a bunch of crap. Totally false. Here’s the truth:
Diane Messer, administrator of the Dodgeville School District, said the holiday show is titled “The Little Tree’s Christmas Gift” and was copyrighted in 1988. It’s about a family that goes to buy a Christmas tree and uses a collection of familiar Christmas carol melodies to tell the story.
“Somebody totally misunderstood and had the belief that one of our teachers took it upon herself to rewrite the words to ‘Silent Night,”’ she said. “This program is well within our district’s policy which allows us the use of both religious and secular content in our curriculum and in our productions and performances.”
Messer said the program has been performed “several times” over the last 18 years and the school district has no immediate plans to address the Liberty Counsel’s concerns.
“It’s a misunderstanding and people have drawn all sorts of absurd conclusions from it,” she said.
The Little Tree’s Christmas Gift is a Christmas play often performed both in schools and churches around the country. It was written by a church choir director, in fact. Is it part of some grand anti-Christmas conspiracy? Judge for yourself. Here’s the song list:
1. The Little Tree’s Christmas Gift (Overture)
2. Buy Our Trees! (The Tree Men’s Song)
3. Please Make A Deal For Me (Tree Buyers’ Song #1)
4. Please Make A Deal For Me (Tree Buyers’ Song #2)
5. Cold In the Night (The Little Tree’s Song)
6. O Little Tree With Slender Branch (Family’s Song)
7. Here We Come A-Caroling / O Christmas Tree (Carolers’ Songs)
8. Underscore Tree Music
9. Christmas Tree Song
10. Deck The Halls / We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Audience Participation Carols)
The song “Cold in the NIght” is sung by the little tree, which is so small and scraggly that they nearly turned it into firewood. The little tree is shivering in the cold and sings this to the tune of “Silent Night”. It’s not a slam on Christmas or an attempt to “secularize” it, it’s a song in the middle of a play that is all about Christmas.
And here’s the worst part. After getting buried with thousands of phone calls and emails, the school district caved in and removed the song from the program rather than telling these people to get a life and go away. Chalk up another victory for rank demagoguery and delusions of persecution.