From today's Dispatch
For the love of all things holy! ---III
NEW ALBANY SCHOOLS Religious songs pulled from concert Wednesday, December 13, 2006David Conrad THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
After pulling two religious songs from a fifth-grade holiday concert, New Albany school officials found the program a little too short for prime time.
When Silent Night and Hayo, Haya, which celebrates Hanukkah, were removed from the program, the principal moved the show from Thursday evening to the afternoon.
The district said a Jewish parent complained that Silent Night, which contains the lyrics "Christ, the savior, is born," was included in the program.
So officials yanked the song and then pulled Hayo, Haya, which contains the lyrics, "Oh, sing our songs and praise the Torah, praise the Torah."
"We wanted to show respect for the religious sensibilities of all students," said Chris Briggs, principal of New Albany Intermediate Elementary School, which serves grades 4 and 5.
Briggs said that from now on, the two grades will include only cultural songs in their holiday programs.
Three nonreligious songs are left for Thursday’s concert.
The Columbus Public Schools took a similar stance a few years ago. In 2001, the district was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union after choirs sang Christian songs at two high-school commencement ceremonies.
The school system responded the next year by passing a policy that required holiday music to be "based on sound educational principles" and not "manifest in preference of religion or particular religious beliefs."
"I think the (New Albany) school made the safest decision that it could possibly make," said Gary Daniels, of the ACLU of Ohio. "A winter performance is a bad time to take a wrong turn from being at a choir concert to a church assembly." (WHAT?!)
However, Daniels also said that he doesn’t believe that schools need to do away with all religious songs.
"The key issue the courts look at it is whether the purpose of the performance was to enhance a particular religious message," he said.
"You’re not going to find a court decision that says you can’t have any religious songs. But if every song in a 10-piece holiday concert is about a certain religion, then you have a problem."
ME: Um, we have problems with Silent Night??? LEt's get real! When I was in high school I sang Jewish songs and I;m not Jewish! If you don't want your kid singing Christmas songs then just tell the director and boom, your kid doesn't sing them. Sheesh. But if they are in a choir and there is a holiday concert, chances are pretty good you're going to be singing Christmas songs! I know there are other holidays in December. When they have as many songs written about them as Christmas, then we'll talk. And these are little kids! Come on now. But of course, once the ACLU is involved....