Not bad enough that California’s ridiculous initiative-and-referendum system can essentially bankrupt the state? Turns out it might do this, too: Put on the ballot the question of whether Christmas carols should be compulsory in public school assemblies. Former Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Mathews notes on his New America Foundation blog that a brother-and-sister pair named David Joseph and Merry Susan Hyatt (yes, she really spells her name like that) filed a draft ballot initiative yesterday that would force the state’s public elementary and secondary schools “to provide opportunities to its pupils for listening to or performing Christmas music at an appropriate time of year.” Merry Hyatt, a teacher, told Mathews she felt an initiative was necessary in case schools were avoiding carols in winter holiday programs because they were nervous about criticism. “We were having Christmas without Jesus,” she added, rather succinctly.

Hyatt said she plans to canvass churches for support, since she doesn’t have the $2 million it usually costs to collect enough signatures to get a measure on the ballot. But we can’t really see this one making it past the old church-state separation hurdle, even though the “Freedom to Present Christmas Music in Public School Classrooms or Assemblies” measure includes a provision requiring schools to give parents who prefer their Christmases light on the Jesus—not just Jews, of course, but Muslims, and atheists, and all kinds of other folks—an opt-out notice. Because, you know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to take kids out of school in order to put the Jesus back in December.

Taking that Christmas Spirit to the People [Blockbuster Democracy Blog]