The carol of the bullies
Montana school accused of bullying for including Christmas carols in school performance
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Attorney sound bite: Matt Sharp
— Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys sent a letter
Wednesday to Missoula County Public Schools after the district faced complaints that certain religious songs should not be included in a Christmas performance by children at Chief Charlo Elementary school.
“Accusing a school of ‘bullying’ for including Christmas songs at a Christmas performance is just silly,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “An overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, and our courts have upheld the inclusion of traditional Christmas carols, including those that are religious, in school performances as long as it serves an overall educational purpose.”
A few parents complained about the song selection included in the Christmas performance by children at Chief Charlo Elementary School. The production included a variety of songs from various musical styles, such as “Up On a House Top,” “Deck the Halls,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and “Dreidel Spins.” However, the parents complained that inclusion of traditional carols like “Good Christian Men Rejoice” and “Joy to the World” was paramount to “bullying,” and threatened to take legal action.
The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that “students may hear and sing religious Christmas carols during school activities such as choir and Christmas programs without offending the Constitution.”
Moreover, the Alliance Defending Freedom letter notes that “the Eighth Circuit defined “the term ‘study’ to include more than mere classroom instruction; public performance may be a legitimate part of secular study.”Therefore, school officials may constitutionally present Christmas songs and carols that contain religious references when included with a variety of secular songs and carols.”
“A small group of Grinches should not be allowed to censor constitutionally-permissible and culturally-significant songs performed during a Christmas program,” added Sharp. “It is ridiculous that people should have to think twice about publicly celebrating Christmas.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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