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Good Friday: America's schools should be closed in observance of Good Friday

This Friday is Good Friday, the day when Christians throughout the world remember that Jesus Christ died on the cross for people throughout the world. The religious holiday which is observed to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ occurs during Holy Week two days before Easter Sunday. Good Friday is a legal holiday in many national governments throughout the world, but the United States’ federal government does not honor the day with a legal holiday.

Good Friday: Jesus died on the cross
Photo by Scott Paulson

Though the federal government does not consider Good Friday to be a government holiday, there are 12 states which designate Good Friday as a state holiday. Those states are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. Good Friday is also observed as a holiday in the United States territories of Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Additionally, the stock market and financial market closes for the day, as well as many businesses. Most - schools and universities also close on Good Friday.

Not honoring the religious holiday are federally-regulated banks and the United States postal service. For fear of violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, there are portions of society and governmental agencies that refuse to call the day what it is - Good Friday. Instead, they feel they must avoid the religious connotation of the day and call it something such as “spring holiday.”

Of concern is that the portions of the United States that do not incorporate Good Friday in their government’s calendars as a legal holiday not only fear using the appropriate term for the day – Good Friday – but that the day is totally ignored. This year, in particular, there are many signs of ignoring the calendar in schools’ efforts to make up days following closings the schools had during the very cold weather in the past couple of months.

Naturally, the days when the schools were closed for bad weather could have just as well been made up at the end of the school year. In other words, instead of opening school on Good Friday, the school year calendar could have easily been extended one more day at the end of the school year - in late May or in June, depending on a school’s calendar. But no, school board members and school administrators throughout have stripped Good Friday off their calendar to make up the day in which students previously stayed home due to the weather.

While schools and universities are usually suddenly closed for a day or more due to the weather, there are other emergencies that cause schools to close during the school year as well. While the bad weather closings are often debatable – as to what weather really justifies the closing of a school – there should also be a conversation about which days are crossed off the calendar to make up the days.

Making up school days on Good Friday is just wrong. When the first day of summer is considered more important to a school board or to school administrators than the Christians’ Good Friday, they are not only grossly disrespecting Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of dying on the cross on Good Friday – but they are disrespecting the Christians that are amongst them.

Perhaps the school boards and school administrators who find Good Friday not worthy of being honored as a holiday should be taught a lesson of their own. Currently, 73 percent of United States residents are Christians. Forty-eight percent of them are Protestant, 22 percent are Catholics, 2 percent are Mormons and 1 percent call themselves other denominations. In other words, approximately 3 out of every 4 students and families you are supposed to be serving in your authoritative position are Christians. Basically, the United States is a land of Christians – and it is obviously proper that Good Friday be honored with the closing of schools, just as readily as a school is closed for bad weather or other emergencies that occur during a school’s calendar.

Of extreme concern is the message that is being sent to young Christian students throughout the United States who see the powers-that-be (school authorities and others) cancelling – or not even scheduling – the Good Friday observance. Young people are obviously impressionable and should see that Good Friday involving Jesus Christ means something in their worldly existence. What they are being taught now with the non-observance of Good Friday is that Good Friday and the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s dying on the cross is a throw-away holiday. God knows that it isn’t.

Thank God for the schools throughout the United States that still honor the Lord by closing on Good Friday. Moreover, thank God for the schools that still have respect for Jesus Christ and Christian followers. And thank God for those who still have the decency to call Good Friday by its proper name – Good Friday.

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