The only losers are are the children,,,
According to Todd "I never distort the truth" Starnes,
Starnes does mention the prior court proceedings that led to the decision. What he fails to mention,There was no halftime show under the Friday night lights at Mississippi’s Brandon High School — the marching band had been benched.The band was ordered off the field because the Christian hymn “How Great Thou Art” was a part of their halftime show — in violation of a federal court order.
In a statement Friday evening, the Rankin County School District said, "A Federal Court Order was recently issued to the Rankin County School District.And, as Hemant Mehta noted, the appearance of state sanctioned religious expression has been an ongoing issue for this school district.
"The order states: 'Defendants are permanently enjoined from including prayer, religious sermons or activities in any school sponsored event including but not limited to assemblies, graduations, award ceremonies, athletic events and any other school event. That means administrators, teachers and staff of the Rankin County School District may not participate in any religious activity, or solicit or encourage religious activities at school or while performing duties as a RCSD employee.'"
This is a District where a school held a religious assembly during the school day, only to be exposed by one of the students, then held another one a year later. This is a place where another school in the District held a Gideon Bible giveaway. And this is a place where the Superintendent blocked the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance. Because of all this, a judge ruled that any future violations of church/state separation would result in an automatic $10,000 fine.Now whether this possible violation was intentional, remains to be seen. There obviously was miscommunication,
Harrell said that he met with RCSD officials and all of the school principals near the end of July so they understood the order and the restrictions the district is operating under. But he didn’t find out about concerns regarding the band performance until the Friday before the game after a school employee brought it to his attention.But to have to scrap an entire half-time show because of one piece does make one wonder how central a theme it was. [I was never in marching band, so my notion may be off with the reality of what it is like.] And I do question the musical piece chosen for logistical reasons. How the hell do you march to "How Great Thou Art"? I see it more of a stage band or orchestral piece.
In the end it really is the kids that suffer. Learning any piece of music is difficult and takes time and practice. Learning the marching routine adds another level of dedication. Whether the administration over reacted, I'm not sure. As one comment notes, and it does raise an interesting question,
The principal cannot say a prayer over the intercom during school hours. This is a situation where no one is given a choice to participate. However, a school can have an organized elective class that studies religion. Or, teaching the bible as literature is permissible. If you take sacred music out of history's repertoire, there would not be much left.
It is the position of The National Association for Music Education that the study and performance of religious music within an educational context is a vital and appropriate part of a comprehensive music education. The omission of sacred music from the school curriculum would result in an incomplete educational experience.but again the performance venue and presentation is questionable.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for kids learning these iconic pieces of sacred music and how they influence our current music. I am all for learning music history and theory, BUT ",,,being careful to avoid another lawsuit,,,, is what I want government officials to do with my tax dollars.”
High School Marching Band Benched over Christian Hymn | Todd Starnes