9-Year-Old Suspended For Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ To Teacher

War on Christmas

Outside Anon Elementary school where the war on Christmas was declared.

San Francisco, CA — The ‘war on Christmas’ continues as a simple well-wishing of ‘Merry Christmas’ has led to big trouble for one fourth-grade San Francisco boy this week.

Timothy Dawson, a 9-year-old student at Anon Elementary School in San Francisco, CA., was in the school cafeteria Monday eating with friends when he was taken to the principal’s office and given a week-long suspension. His punishment was consequence for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to his homeroom teacher earlier that morning.

Dawson’s teacher, 35-year-old Paul Horner who is an outspoken Atheist, was offended at the students display of Christmas spirit and had staff suspend the young boy for the rest of the week.

“I say ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone,” the boy told CNN. “I didn’t think it would cause so much trouble just for saying a couple little words.”

The boy’s mother, Laura Dawson, 41, was fuming over the issue.

“You don’t traumatize a child who loves to go to school, who wanted to be early every day to school, you don’t make him cry, just for wishing someone Merry Christmas,” she told reporters, holding back tears. “You just don’t do it.”

Reporters spoke with Mr. Horner as he was leaving from school on Tuesday. “I warned the children not to bring religion into my classroom,” Horner said. “Maybe he’ll [Tim] listen to adults next time.”

Anon Elementary School officials declined to comment.

UPDATE 12/12/13:

We have located the email address for the Atheist teacher in the story, Paul Horner. I think he deserves a nice well-wishing of Merry Christmas!

Email: paul.horner.a.elementary@gmail.com


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337 Responses to "9-Year-Old Suspended For Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ To Teacher"

  1. thereddiva says:

    I don’t think there’s a war on Christmas as much as an ongoing exercise in stupidity.

  2. Kay Newton Gray says:

    The parents should sue the teacher and school for violating the boy’s 1st Amendment rights.

  3. Jade says:

    Im a athiest too. I dont see how he got away with using that as an excuse. I still celebrate christmas infact its my fav holiday. Not everyone views it in a religious way. I sent him my own Merry Christmas n I hope many others do as well.

    • Matt says:

      Christmas isn’t even a Christian holiday. Everything about it was stolen from pagan worshippers by the Church in an attempt to make it appealing to new converts. The date? Jesus wasn’t even born in December. Biblical scholars believe he was born in the late summer/early fall. December 25 coincides with Hellenistic and Roman celebrations of Saturnalia, a huge festival. What better way to entice new comers to a then-unpopular religion than have your big holiday at the time they already celebrate? Christmas trees were stolen from Germanic traditions that had no roots in Christianity. Saint Nicholas was a Turkish bishop – not the white German/Nordic guy we now love.

      Keeping Christ in Christmas is the biggest load of bullshit ever. Regardless, now it is extremely secular and commercialized. Christians should bitch about something else, maybe about how the majority of their numbers don’t live by the ideals of Jesus Christ: namely love, compassion, charity, and socialism.

      • Pat Chandler says:

        @Matt, You pitiful old Scrooge! I feel sorry for you. What you said about Christ’s birthday was a load of bs, just as you are, a load of bs…lol I’m guessing you never got a present for Christmas, or your parent/parents divorced and left you to your own devices and surmices. You undoubtedly have the uglies spirit I’ve yet to come across. You know little about the ideals of Jesus Christ because you do not know Him or claim Him as your personal saviour. Socialism??!! Give me a break, you freakin’ loser!

        • roald says:

          Hi Pat. You don’t agree with Matt, yet you provide no facts to back your assertion. Is that because Matt is correct?

        • shay says:

          You may claim Him as your personal savior but are you giving Him reason to claim you? Your ignorant tirade only strengthens Matt’s point about most Christians not living up to such ideals as “love” and “compassion.” A bit of research will prove the pagan origins of the holiday from mistletoe and yule logs to caroling; but honor Him as you see fit, not as He commands. I’m sure that bit about reserving judgment and abstaining from false worship was directed to lesser Christians than you! :)

          On a side note, this “news” article is satirical, my response is sarcastic and you, Pat, are an ass.

        • Dylan Heisler says:

          As a fellow believer, you might want to speak intelligently to those whom you disagree with. I currently attend Lancaster Bible College and in fact, Matt is kinda right about the historical facts of Christmas. You resorted to name calling (even if it was censored) and your argument from your side was nothing but harsh. You kinda proved his point about the whole “[Christians] don’t follow the ideals of Christ: namely love, compassion…”
          But to be fair, the socialism is a bit of a stretch. If you’re referring to the idea of an ‘Acts 2′ church, it’s much more like communism. Though our experience with communism is not what it should be. Not with a dictator but with everyone effectively sharing everything they have out of love for one-another.
          And to everyone using the idea of “general consensus says he was born in _______”, please stop. No one agrees. Some say spring, some say fall, some say winter and summer. My interpretation is that he was born at the end of December which at the time before Augustus Caesar happened to be the 10th month which is where people get October from.

          Long story short, Merry Christmas everyone. If you don’t celebrate, Have a good December 25th!

        • Scott Otto says:

          Sucks for you Pat as Matt is correct and your an idiot.

        • Jacqueline McIntosh says:

          Fellow Christians please be mindful to reply to those who attack our faith in a spirit of love and never with cussing or harsh responses. When we do that it simply underscores their beliefs that we as Christians do not truly practice the very love Jesus embodied. Remember that out of his Kindness he sends good things to all people – even the evil ones in hopes they will return to him, so let’s be sure our answers are truly the ones that Jesus himself would use, and not reflect the vulgar speech of the world that we have been given the power to overcome. Merry Christmas!

          • Neifa says:

            Amen !

            we should respond in a way that is Christ like. Otherwise we will just be feeding the fire about christians not practicing what they preach

        • Ashley says:

          Ding ding thank you. I’m sick of these argumentative sht starting atheists. They were obviously all only children.

      • c says:

        No it was not a pagen worship. The true meaning behind Christmas is to celebrate the birth of jesus christ and even Jewish people celebrate him as a saint. So you might want do more homework on the true meaning if Christmas. My facts come one of the best university for history in the country.

        • teri says:

          Your ignorance is legion. First, Christmas is an invented holiday. The general consensus is that, if Jesus was a real person, he was born in the spring. The church appropriated the pagan holiday of the Solstice (celebrating the return of the sun- warped into SON). So, yes, Christmas is the celebration of the alleged birth of the Christ child. But there are many holidays celebrated at this time of year…most of which existed long before the time of Christ.

          Second, Judaism does NOT celebrate Jesus as a saint. LOL, seriously?? Where did you come up with this BS?? To Jews, Jesus was a dangerous, false messiah. An embarrassment to the faith.

          Apparently that university isn’t quite as good as you would like to think.

        • teri says:


          Try educating yourself….and just what is this “best university for history in the country”??? Because they need to have their accreditation pulled.

        • teri says:

          The Encyclopedia Americana, 1956 edition, adds, “Christmas…was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth…a feast was established in memory of this event [Christ's birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered the feast to be celebrated forever on the day of the Mithraic rites of the birth of the sun and at the close of the Saturnalia, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”

        • stefan says:

          Actually they moved the celebratory date to then to encourage more pagan to convert. They had a major holiday during that time that involved dancing around a pine tree. Please back up your claims as this was even acknowledged by the Vatican.

          Also you got into university with that grammar? Might need to rethink ‘best’ with best you could do.

        • roald says:

          Teacher, you are flat out wrong, though I would be interested in knowing your sources.

          Scholars disagree on the birth date and even the season. See

          That the time chosen for Christmas is near the winter solstice is no accident, nor are the many borrowed traditions..

          Jews recognize Jesus as a prophet, a false prophet living in a time of many false profits. There are no saints in Judaism.

        • Scott Otto says:

          First off, learn how to spell before the grammar police show up. Second, the Pagans originally celebrated Yule and yes it was stolen by the Christians and turned into Christmas. Third, the Jews don’t even reconize Jesus as anything more than another two bit preacher that happened to be Jewish. Do your research before you open your mouth next time. And what is the best university in the country?

        • Alexie Bachman says:

          Hmmm, good university for history, but apparently not so much for spelling or grammar.

          • Steve says:

            Truth spelled wrong always triumphs lies spelled properly. Please grow up, putz.

          • roald says:

            Steve – you walked into it. Accept the rebuke with grace for aren’t Christians supposed to be the ones who turn the other cheek?

            What is truly amusing is how worked up you and other get over a satiric article.

      • Fausto Parra says:

        With all due respect, I believe You missed the really issue all together but you seem very knowledgeable. If you consider sharing your knowledge in a more positive manner you may see some interesting results.

      • Caitlin says:

        Who cares! You people have gotten off topic here. Think of the child involved in this. Also Pat Christmas traditions did come from the Pagans and it is not believed that Jesus was not born on that day. I believe in God and have accepted Jesus as my savior but I am also not ignorant enough to make comments such as those you have made. Stop giving Christians a bad name! It is because of people like you that I don’t like calling myself a Christian.

        • roald says:

          Hi Caitlin. You are correct about people getting off topic. Many are responding to a satiric article as if it were real. I hope all are playing along with the satire; however, I fear, some took it seriously. A few have become so invested that they cannot step back and laugh at themselves after being taken in.

      • Tom Horonzy says:

        Good Lord Charlie Brown, have you been maliciously maimed by a Christian anymore than anyone else? Did your folks force you to church? How much malice is in your heart to defame every practicing Christian for the acts of a few? The fascists in Germany began with one religious group and had their hatred spread throughout Germany. How is this criticism helpful? The embodiment of the mean-spiritedness shown on Capitol Hill now is permeating the citizentry.

    • Rebecca Sparks says:

      Thank you Jade!!!
      Thank you for being a good person!!

  4. Hap E. Halliday says:

    I think this teacher is a hero. His rights were infringed upon by that insensitive student, and he took a stand for what is fair!

    If this kind of thing isn’t nipped in the bud, kids will start openly praying in school…or worse!

    • Shelly says:

      Hero? No I don’t consider that a hero! Students can openly pray in school, it’s freedom of religion. It’s stupidity of people like you and that teacher is what’s wrong with this world. He was offended over someone, a child saying Merry CHRISTmas? Well I know plenty that are offended by happy holidays!

    • josh says:

      A hero? For making a 9year old cry and get suspended from school for saying merry christmas? So you’re telling me that you are so uptight about your religion that others can’t openly express their religion? So if that’s the case then that teacher shouldn’t have a job for being outspoken about athieism buff said…

    • And what about the child’s rights? He has the same freedom of speech as the teacher. The teacher used his attority to shut up a believer but he will give an account for tgat , just as you that condemn him will. I pray that God has mercy of all you that has a hateful thing to say about the atheist teacher. If you want to say something about him do it in prayer. He has a soul.

    • Luke says:

      You my friend need to get your head out of your @ss. If anything Christmas could just be the most universal holiday celebrated in the U.S.. Nevermind the religious reasoning behind it, a 9 year old would know no better. This teacher clearly has some issues/a grudge against Christmas if he got a kid suspended over that compared to other things that come out of a 9 year olds mouth.

      Fortunately this didn’t happen but it brought out the worst in you. Happy holidays jerk

    • CG says:

      @Shelly and @josh
      Seriously…you should start reading other books but the bible, maybe you’ll start sensing irony when it’s presented to you.

    • Robert Kriegar says:

      Pretty much looks like your sarcasm fell flat.

    • jay says:

      What about the students rights. The right to free speach. The right to have an opinion. You sir are a complete idiot.

    • Caitlin says:

      I can’t believe you just said that. This child as rights just as much as the teacher. The teacher could of handle this in a much better way then having he kid kicked out of school. Also, what is so wrong with praying in school? You talk about rights in your comment but you clearly only allow such rights when they are in your favor. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and if a child wants to start praying in class then so be it. Don’t be a hypocrite.

    • Shenny says:

      wow you are fucking retarded

    • Tom Horonzy says:

      Holy Cow Batwoman! How were this teacher rights infringed upon? Are you against free speak?

      • roald says:

        Hi Tom. I have a serious question for you. Was your response a continuation of Hap’s playing along with the satiric article (and I am too naive to recognize it)?


    • Neifa says:

      Yes ! God forbid we allow prayer in schools! Who knows what could happen! Oh I know! Less violence in schools!

    • wow, you must be one of those people that think equality and everybody’s freedom should be obsolete. Just as long as you have your own selfish denials in your own best interest. It’s disgusting to think so many people are slowly trying to make this a communist country by taking about our freedoms. Free speech, freedom of religion, right to bear arms. If it wasn’t for God then none of us would be here and non of us would have free will. ooops there is that word FREE again. I am a proud FREE WILLED child of god. I am not perfect I am a sinner nor am I a saint. I am proud of this child not being afraid to say Merry Christmas. We all should look at kids like that with gratitude, gratitude for the parents instilling great values and morals in their children. To make them better non bitter resentful adults in the future.

  5. dianna says:

    mr horner is a jerk i am offended by his attitude.and the schools by not responding.when you do not believe in god you should not be around children ;they do not understand you not wanting a Merry Christmas. you do not want to hear it get a different job. i would not want any one that is a stupid as you to teach my childeren.

    • Hey Listen says:

      You have to believe in God to be around children? Since when? I figured most male figured such as priests just molest little kids. Your religion is not the only religion in existence, and you are not special in any way.

      Plus this article is fake.

  6. Frackingforkids says:

    To both atheists and christians who thought this was real: you are an IDIOT. To the christians that would do bad things to this teacher: GO READ THE NEW TESTAMENT, specifically Matthew 5:39. Do some goddamn fact checking, you asshats

  7. Valerie says:

    It is about Chritmas and every body needs to pray for our country. Hap you should be ashamed this is GODs country nobody else. Merry Christ mas cause not for Christ nine of us would be here.

    • Free_Country says:

      I have just two things to say. By saying this is “Gods” country you are completely discounting the fact that we, as a people, have freedom of religion. there is no official religion of the United States. There is the most popular, but there is no official religion. Also saying Happy Holidays is an old English contraction of Happy Holy days.

    • JayHobeSound says:

      I do not recall seeing Jesus H. Christ’s signature on the Declaration of Independence.

    • Brian Schneider says:

      Just nine of you? Good.

  8. Yekaterina says:

    Is this the same Paul Horner that just won the mega millions lottery!?!?


  9. Mike says:

    So question if the teacher is a outspoken atheist then how can he say others are not allowed to speak there minds on whatever they want to if it is a world in which free speech is wanted and encouraged then the 9 year old has ever right to say Merry Christmas. I suggest that the principle who enforced this travesty of personal injustice and the teacher involved as well be taught the same lesson on the rights of others by saying next time this teacher says he is a out spoken atheist he be suspended for bringing this up to others that are not. Oh and by the way Merry Christmas.

  10. Jennifer cox says:

    So, it’s ok for the teacher to publicly voice his religion/views to the students? But it’s not ok for the 9 year old boy to say Merry Christmas publicly, even though he made no statement about Religion? All children get excited about Christmas what else are they suppose to call it? I think this school needs to find a new teacher.

  11. Hypatia says:

    fuck you shitheads

  12. Andrew says:

    The late and great George Carlin used to say that being “offended” is one of the most useless things a person can be.

  13. Neal Gilbert says:

    I think the teacher needs a unpaid holiday vaction for in intolerance of other’s right’s too….

  14. Ann Blackman says:

    The parents should tell the teacher that it is a shame that his mother raised such a small-minded person to believe that the rest of the population is going to bow to his request to have no holiday wishes. The teacher needs to be FIRED for teaching Atheism!

  15. emily says:

    i think this teacher needs to be fired for what he has done to this nine yr old. and i really dont think this is an adult i think he is just a child to. very childish person he is

  16. Mindy says:

    Mr. Horner you have probably offended this 9 YEAR OLD BOY, more then you will ever be offended.. You should be ashamed of yourself, your a poor excuse for mankind.. The Lord will see to it that you have consequenses!!!



  17. Mindy says:

    This school district should be on a NON PAID SUSPENSION, this is a disgrace, an you people wonder why our children are lashing out, bullying and killing..

    I’d like to vommit on this teacher an the principal…

  18. Mike says:

    I say we take this Teacher tie him to a chair and each kid get a whip at him. This teacher needs to be crucified lol. How dare you punish a child for believing in a American holiday. Teacher if you don’t like it then get the fuck out of our country! Just don’t understand why teachers have to be fuck heads. I don’t care if you like sucking gods dick and go to church all the time or if you are a fucking loser that is a Atheist! When some one say’s something that they thank is nice because of there believes and say’s Merry Christmas and you don’t like it just keep you GOD DAM mouth shut and just say thank you. He was only 8 years old and you told on him for being kind and you are 35 you punk ass BITCH get a life! I hope someone fucks you up and you get fired!

    • roald says:

      Hi Mike. Congratulations! I cannot tell if you are serious or giving us an example of Poe’s Law. Your response is what I expect from a CINO (Christian in name only) and right on the edge of unmistakable parody.

    • Alexie Bachman says:

      Hey, Mike, newsflash – they celebrate Christmas in other countries too, it’s NOT an American holiday.

  19. JayHobeSound says:

    When tryannical fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a bible.

    Plenty of the same people outraged by this “news report” would leave the front door wide open and even put down a new welcome mat.

  20. Timmy says:

    Freedom of speech and freedom of religion, this 9 year old CHILD getting suspended is terrible and the 35 year old MAN is even worse for basically whining to his superiors saying that “Merry Christmas” offended me…..give me a break

  21. MarJean randall says:

    I think it is really sad teacher who teaches our children want do you have a9 year old childexpanded from school just saying Merry Christmas what is this world coming to

    • Frank says:

      I think it’s really sad that people go to school to learn how to read and write (among other things) and end up writing comments that are incomprehensible gibberish.

  22. Toby Zichterman says:


  23. John says:

    Paul Horner Merry Christmas and Jesus Loves you . Did you ever stop to think that Jesus has been in schools since the beginning and shortly after his name has been rejected in schools there has been many killings and evil brought upon innocent loving children . Do you really think you could of left a Merry Christmas , from a little boy as a positive jesture and not create pain ,drama and a negative environment for someone wishing you a blessed day .

  24. Paul Horner says:

    FYI there is no god, whoever you are, so how can there be a “Christ” in Christmas? It started as a Pagan holiday anyway, look it up. I was doing the kid a favor.

    The kids can fuck goats and worship men that walk on water, just not in my classroom.

    Bah humbug!


    Paul Horner

  25. MMS says:

    After taking a school law course… the school has no leg to stand on if the parent files suit for the boys 1st amendment speech. Take a look at Tinker v. Des Moines, etc. I am floored… does saying Merry Christmas truly create a large enough disruption to stop the daily operations of the school? I think not. It will be interesting if the parent gets a lawyer.

  26. I. Chandler says:

    Wow. Pathetic. Our country is in a sad state.

  27. Sue says:

    Teachers are meant to teach children not to break their spirits! What is this teacher trying to teach this child? By having a 9 year old child suspended for sharing his Christmas spirit? The teacher chose to be an Athiest. That is their choice. I was raised Christian, and I say Merry Christmas to people. If you are not Christian, simply respond with Happy Holidays or whatever your phrase of choice is. This teacher took the words of an innocent child and ALLOWED those words to be upsetting. Then this teacher sought to impose their own beliefs (athiesism) onto the child and the entire school faculty ALLOWED that by imposing a suspension! Maybe more ADULTS need to listen to the innocent children. How is it that the Freedom of Speech has become so very limited that a 9 year old child is PUNISHED simply for wishing someone a happy holiday season? Who cares HOW that wish was verbalized! There are many ways to say it, MERRY CHRISTMAS is only one way. This is not (or should not become) a war on Christmas and the school! This is about using the power of being a teacher in an educational facility and emotionally BEATING UP AND BULLYING a child about their beliefs! Way to crush the spirit of our future! Way to develop a distaste for the educational system! No wonder more parents are considering HOME SCHOOLING!!!!

    • Frank says:

      I don’t disagree with the basic message in your comment but, for the record, atheism is not a belief. It is non-belief in something due to a lack of any real evidence supporting its existence.

  28. Bri says:

    Merry CHRISTMAS!!! :) that teacher needs to pound sand and even more so the principal for suspending a child over such nonsense!!!!!

  29. Robert A. Reich says:

    I find it difficult to believe that a teacher can violate the civil rights of a 9 year-old and not be suspended, himself… He demands tolerance, yet has none… I just just hope that that poor child or any other, for that matter, does not “listen” to adults that are THAT close-minded and pathetic…

    Send Mr. Horner a Christmas greeting?


  30. timmy says:

    But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
    Matthew 18-6
    Sorry teach

  31. Tigran Kash says:

    We sent him an email wishing Merry Christmas and this is how he replied:

    > > From: “Paul Horner”
    > > Date: December 21, 2013 at 7:54:45 AM PST
    > > To:
    > > Subject: Re: Merry Xmas
    > >
    > > FYI there is no god, whoever you are, so how can there be a “Christ” in Christmas? It started as a Pagan holiday anyway, look it up. I was doing the kid a favor.
    > >
    > > The kids can fuck goats and worship men that walk on water, just not in my classroom.
    > >
    > > Bah humbug!
    > >
    > > Regards,
    > >
    > > Paul Horner

  32. Biggest says:

    As an atheist, I find it very hard to believe this is true. If it is, the teacher’s a dick face and I wouldn’t oppose him being fired for a blatant abuse of authority. But the school is even worse for not having an ounce of common sense and letting this actually go through. Everyone has lost their mind here, assuming this actually happened.

  33. Ashley says:

    I’m so sick of this!!!! Don’t bring it up if you don’t want to start a fire over it. If you don’t want it said, then ask not to! Don’t get your panties up your butt and whine like a little girl that a well meaning child needs to be suspended for something so minimal, and very petty. Paul Horner is a petty human being.

  34. nikki w says:

    Oh my god! (Pun intended) as a teacher I just can’t believe that a teacher would traumatize a child and infringe on their freedom of speech for such an innocent happy exclamation. You sir, deserve to burn in hell. It exists!

  35. kushmaster says:

    fuck you

  36. Kareen says:

    LOAD OF BULLSH## “religion is not to be brought into the classroom” I would repeatedly say merry Christmas even if it meant I were to be expelled

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