A Half Day for Good Friday?
April 18, 2017
Filed under Opinions
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Good Friday is a Christian holiday memorializing Jesus’ death by crucifixion. On that day, the student body is given a half day to go home. But with the idea of a secular separation of Church and State, why is it that in public schools (arranged and paid for by the US Government), this Christian holiday is given a half day when no other religion’s is?
Now, it is possible for children of different faiths to leave school or not do homework in honor of a religious holiday or festival. But someone who isn’t a Christian has to go through the work of going to the office and asking the administration for a break from homework or school while the needs of a Christian has already been provided for. There should be no special exemptions made for the Christian student where none is being made for a Jewish or Hindu student.
Some may say: “It’s not only about religion. It’s tradition”, but unlike Christmas or Easter, Good Friday has never been secularized. Many agnostics, atheists, etc. celebrate Christmas and Easter without being involved in a religious celebration but getting involved in activities that are more secular; such as decorating a Christmas tree or going on an Easter egg hunt. Broadly speaking, there are no secular Good Friday traditions. There is no Good Friday Santa or Bunny to speak of. It is still a Christian holiday memorializing the Christian God’s sacrifice.
One could argue that “Christmas is a Christian holiday that schools giving time off for. What’s the difference?!” But Christmas is celebrated by a wide variety of people of different cultures and religious backgrounds. I have known Hindu families that celebrate Christmas, without specifically believing in the story of Jesus’ birth. Until non-Christian people start celebrating Good Friday with activities that don’t have to do with Christianity itself, it has to be regarded as a religious holiday.
And though Good Friday is given a half day and the vast majority of students enjoy the half day off, it’s the principle of the thing: certain religions cannot be favored in any way above others. Even many Christians don’t take time off from work or school to devote time to religious reflection but have their own forms of remembrance and worship.
I myself celebrate the holiday in my own way and even I say that we shouldn’t have a day off for it. A public school is a place where all faiths should be treated as equally as possible, Christian or not.