When it came time for the school talent show, a fifth grade boy in California had his song all picked out to sing and impress his friends and family. School officials were shocked by his choice, however, and asked that he choose another song. The song wasn't filled with profanity, or violence, or anything like that. Rather, it referred to Jesus too many times.
The song the boy wanted to sing, "We Shine," is definitely religious. With lyrics like "So come on everybody let your praise begin; Cause Jesus is alive and he's coming again," it's not subtle. School officials told his mother it was "offensive" and violated "separation of church and state." They asked why he couldn't "pick a song that does not say Jesus so many times?"
I very firmly believe we need that separation of church and state in public schools in many cases, but this is ridiculous. It's not a song being taught to all the children, it was how one child chose to express himself. And whether it's grade school or not, another important virtue of our nation is a little thing called FREEDOM OF EXRESSION. And like it or not, religious beliefs (remember there's also freedom of religion, or at least there's supposed to be) should be able to be expressed too to the ire of many.
And really, couldn't any song be offensive to SOMEONE? Take "Mary Had a Little Lamb" -- I'm sure there are animal activists out there who don't like that. "London Bridges" is pretty violent; and most any pop song out there is going to contain some sexual innuendo. So what's a kid to do, hum?
Fortunately, the school backed down when the family filed a lawsuit, and he was allowed to sing. Nothing like a lawsuit to smack some sense into educators. Still the family moved forward with the suit to encourage long-term change ... and they got it.
The Los Angeles Unified School District changed the policy to now read:
Student speakers at student assemblies and extracurricular activities such as sporting events or talent shows may not be selected on a basis that either favors or disfavors religious speech.
Image via kevin.j/Flickr