San Francisco, CA — The ‘War on Christmas’ continues as a simple well-wishing of ‘Merry Christmas’ has led to the termination of a third-grade teacher in San Francisco, California.
37-year-old Paul Horner, who had been a teacher at Westview Elementary School for 15 years and had no prior disciplinary infractions, was fired by school officials after saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to one of his 3rd grade students. That student, who is an Atheist, found Horner’s well-wishing to be offensive and inappropriate; that is when the student contacted his parents and the principal.
Paul Horner spoke with CBS News about his termination from the school.
“I say ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone, I don’t mean any harm by it,” Horner said. “I made a mistake and forgot that Westview enforces a strict ‘Christmas-free zone’. I apologized to the boy, his family and my colleagues for my actions, but they still let me go. That job is all I had in life. I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”
The boy’s mother, Sarah Bradley, 32, was fuming over the issue.
“You don’t traumatize an atheist child who loves to go to school, who wanted to be early every day to school, you don’t make him cry, bringing religion into the classroom and wishing him a Merry Christmas like that,” she told reporters, holding back tears. “You just don’t do it.”
Reporters spoke with Mr. Horner on Friday as he was leaving the grounds of Westview Elementary for the last time.
“Westview had such a great bunch of students and teachers to work with and I’ll really miss all of that,” Horner said. “I love working with kids and trying to make a difference in their lives. I just hope I can find new employment elsewhere as soon as possible; I have bills and a family to support. I guess I’ll just try to learn from this experience and next time keep my Christmas spirit to myself.”
Westview Elementary School officials declined to comment, but did post about the incident on their website:
During the holiday season it can be easy to forget important things like the separation of church and state. As a progressive school, Westview Elementary School is a proud “Christmas Free Zone”.
As some of you may or may not know, we recently had to terminate employment of our third grade teacher Mr. Paul Horner for saying the words “Merry Christmas” to one of our fine Atheist students. What Mr. Horner said to this child was offensive to all religions and belief systems. We here at Westview Elementary School sincerely apologize for Mr. Horner’s uncaring and heartless behavior.