The kind of music you’re allowed to sing at public school events has always been a touchy church/state separation issue. Christmas songs are okay, like during winter concerts, but they have to be mixed in with secular songs to avoid any impression of promoting one religion. Religious songs with a clear educational purpose are fine, but not songs that are purely devotional. It’s not always an easy call to make.
But here’s a case out of New York that’s pretty clear-cut:
A song with Christian themes performed by the chorus during Little Falls High School’s graduation ceremony drew the ire of some of those in attendance.
Alan and Teri Chace, whose son graduated with the Class of 2015 on Saturday, sent a letter dated June 28 to high school Principal Bart Tooley that highlighted their concern over the performance of the song “He Hasn’t Failed Me Yet.”
The Chaces said the chorus director “ought to be reprimanded and never again permitted to choose a song that projects her own religious beliefs onto a secular gathering. If you or [Little Falls City School District] Superintendent [Louis] Patrei knew of and approved of her choice, at minimum you owe everyone who attended the ceremony an apology.”
You can listen to the song right here. Just look at the lyrics:
He is my God and I’ll serve Him,
[No matter what the test.]
Trust and never doubt
Jesus will surely bring you out,
He never failed me yet.
Why on earth would anyone allow that song to be sung at a graduation ceremony? There’s no redeeming secular quality to it!
At least the letter did the trick. Without getting any group involved, the Chaces got an apology from the District:
“The Little Falls City School District does not promote student initiated prayer or religious song at our graduation ceremony,” said Patrei in an email on Tuesday. “The school district will take measures to insure that the district is not in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
You have to wonder how many students went ahead and sang that song because they felt pressured to do it. I’m sure there are some Christians who will argue it’s no big deal, but that’s hardly surprising. What would their reaction have been if their kids had to sing a song praising Allah?
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)