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Jewish family flees Lancaster after Christmas play cancellation story goes viral

Hempfield School District denies reports that complaints about play prompted cancellation.
A child actor in Toronto portrays Tiny Tim in the classic play "A Christmas Carol," wGetty Images

A Jewish family is reportedly in hiding after they were accused of getting a fifth-grade Christmas play canceled, a story the school denies.

“Was it a complaint about the line ‘God bless us, every one!’ that prompted reassessment of the play? Absolutely not,” the Hempfield School District posted online.

The school district posted an “FAQ” about the cancellation of the traditional performance of “A Christmas Carol” at Centreville Elementary School after a story went viral that said two parents’ complaints about that specific line got the entire play canceled.

Now, a Jewish family who asked in September if their child could not participate in the play has fled Lancaster County after fears that they are being blamed for the play’s cancellation and may be sought out by online commenters on right-wing websites.

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“There’s no way we’re going to take a chance after the pizza incident,” the parents, who have remained anonymous, told LancasterOnline. They werereferring to the"Pizzagate"incident where a man fired a rifleinsidea Washington, D.C., pizza shop he targeted after reading falsereports online that it was a site of child abuse.

The parents also said their child was bullied in school and blamed for the cancellation of the play, which had been traditionally performed for about 20 years, according to the school district.

The complaints were first publicized by local ABC news affiliate WHTM, which asserted that the play was canceled because of the complaints about the line “God bless us, everyone,” from two parents.

Based on those reports, Fox News opinion writer Todd Starnes called the cancelation a product of "Christmas intolerance." Conservative,reputed"alt-right"news siteBreitbartwrote an article about the incident, on which, acommenterwrote, “It would be nice if we had the addresses of those concerned citizens.”

According to the school district, the play was canceled because rehearsals and practice were scheduled during the school day, which they decided took too much time away from classroom curriculum, not because of any parent's complaints.

“There was no complaint,” the school district said in its statement online. “The decision had nothing to do with a religious concern; rather, the decision was made due to the amount of instructional time that this noncurricular activity had grown to require."

 
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