ADF to Alabama school: Don’t silence ‘Silent Night’ in Christmas program

ADF sends letter to Tuscumbia school officials threatened by Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Friday, December 16, 2011

ADF attorney sound bites:  David Cortman  |  Matt Sharp

TUSCUMBIA, Ala. — The Alliance Defense Fund sent a letter Thursday to an Alabama school district to explain that it should not remove the traditional Christmas carol “Silent Night” from a Christmas program at one of its schools. The letter explains that demands made by Americans United for Separation for Church and State for the removal of the song are baseless.

“It’s ridiculous that people have to think twice about whether it’s okay to include ‘Silent Night’ in a Christmas program,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that it’s okay to celebrate Christmas in schools and in the public square, and they are right. There is nothing unconstitutional about inclusion of this song in the school’s program, and that is supported by how the courts have consistently ruled.”

AU sent a letter to Tuscumbia City Schools complaining about inclusion of “Silent Night” as one of nine songs in G.W. Trenholm School’s Christmas program. AU apparently claimed that inclusion of the song or any other religious song would be unconstitutional.

“The school should not succumb to pressure from the faulty legal demands of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which spends its time threatening and intimidating school districts with disinformation to further its own constitutionally incorrect agenda,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Matt Sharp.

The ADF letter disputes AU’s claims and points out several court cases that have upheld the inclusion of religious Christmas carols in school Christmas programs.

“Here, ‘Silent Night’ is but one of the nine other songs included in the Christmas program at G.W. Trenholm,” the ADF letter explains. “Thus, as long as the inclusion of ‘Silent Night’ or any other religious Christmas song is based upon a secular reason--i.e. recognition of the religious heritage of Christmas--then the Constitution does not prohibit the inclusion of the religious song in the school’s Christmas program.”

The Alliance Defense Fund offers a free legal memo that explains the constitutionally protected rights of students, teachers, and public schools to seasonal religious expression.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.