”God Bless the U.S.A.,” a patriotic anthem made popular by singer Lee Greenwood during the 1991 Gulf War, ignited a war of words between some parents and officials when it was learned an upcoming school performance would substitute the words ”I love” for ‘God bless.”
The show’s directors decided to substitute ”I love the U.S.A.” during rehearsals for the performance at Pacifica High School in Ventura County, California, when someone on the committee suggested the word ”God” might be a ”problem.”
When angry parents found out about the change, some withdrew their children from the ‘Cinemagic’ program, while others wrote protesting e-mails to the school board and district leaders, reports the Ventura County Star.
”It’s OK for you to say ‘God,’ ” parent Kaila Kaden told the paper. ”It’s not a religious issue. It’s a freedom of speech issue.”
The show’s sponsor, the Pleasant Valley Education Foundation, provides support for bands, speech programs and choruses. Because it’s not officially affiliated with the district, committee members decided to check with school officials to make sure the word ”God” would not violate laws separating church and state.
The school board OK’d the original lyrics.
According to the paper, School Board President Ron Speakman said the situation was a misinterpretation of state law and district policy. While schools cannot advocate any certain religion, Speakman said laws do not forbid reference to God. ”It was a misguided attempt to be politically correct, and it has been rectified,” Speakman said.
Committee chairwoman Peggy Smith said words have been changed before in the show’s three-year history.
”We didn’t want a lawsuit,” Smith told the Star. “It could lead to the demise of Cinemagic and arts programs … because of one word.”
Sheila Myers was among the parents who wrote e-mails disagreeing with the words “I love the U.S.A.”
She says she was moved to tears when she heard the children sing the song with “God” in the lyrics again.
”It just really moved me,” she told the Star. ”It’s one area in our lives not being tainted by political correctness.”
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