The New Jersey school district that banned Christmas music, even by instrumental groups, from its holiday concerts has been hit with a lawsuit claiming officials have demonstrated hostility toward religion.
Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of Michael Stratechuk and his two children, who are students in the South Orange/Maplewood School District. According to a statement from Thomas More, the suit claims the district’s action is unconstitutional.
As WorldNetDaily reported, this year the district expanded its no-Christmas music policy to include instrumental music. Instead of tunes about Jesus, and even Santa Claus, the 40-member Columbia High School brass ensemble will be limited for the first time to seasonal selections such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman.” The group’s holiday concert is scheduled for tomorrow night.
“This is another example of the anti-Christmas, anti-religion policy infecting our public-school system,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center, in a statement. “The Constitution does not require our public schools to become religion-free zones. Forcing students to strip all religious content from music is like asking them to study art history while excluding paintings from the Renaissance because they contain religious subjects.”
The civil-rights lawsuit argues that the school district’s total ban on religious music conveys the “impermissible, government-sponsored message of disapproval of and hostility toward religion.” The lawsuit further argues that because the religious music is banned from the public schools, students are denied the ability to learn about and listen to music that has influenced the social, cultural and historic development of civilization.
Last week, WND reported that Bogota, N.J., Mayor Steve Lonegan, a Republican candidate for governor, has organized what he calls an “illegal” night of caroling tomorrow before the Columbia High School concert to draw attention to the school district’s ban. Lonegan has invited his rivals to join him outside the school to sing songs that were deleted from the concert’s program.
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