Ottawa school threatened after Christmas song cuts

Last Updated: Friday, December 21, 2007

An elementary school in Ottawa was flooded with hateful and threatening e-mails and phone calls after media reports that it had removed the word "Christmas" from a song to be performed at its Christmas concert.

The choir at Elmdale Public School did not sing its controversial version of the song Silver Bells at its closed-door concert Thursday after receiving dozens of angry reponses, including some containing foul language.

School board chair Lynn Scott said the school was accused of being anti-Christian, but 'I'm not seeing very many Christian values in the reaction we've had.'

Lynn Scott, chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, said some callers accused the school of being anti-Christian and some threatened teachers and officials at the school.

"It's appalling to me that people could be so intolerant and disrespectful and hateful at a time of the year like this when we're supposed to be thinking about generosity and peace and good will," she said. "I'm not seeing very many Christian values in the reaction we've had."

Teachers had originally intended to replace "Christmas time" and other Christmas references from the song's original 1951 lyrics with words referring to "a festive time."

When news of the plan reached the media, some radio call-in shows and blogs encouraged people to contact the school in protest.

Scott said the result is that children didn't have the kind of Christmas experience they should have.

"What's really unfortunate is the way that sensationalizing this, as has happened, has really put a damper on what should have been a delightful Christmas seasonal celebration for the children at Elmdale," she said.