Last week I reported on the Dodgeville, Wis., elementary school that had replaced the classic Christmas carol “Silent Night” with a secularized version that was retitled “Cold in the Night.” The song was to be sung at the school’s “winter program.”
Officials at the Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville had bought into the ACLU-inspired spirit of secularism, believing that they must eradicate even the most rudimentary references to the Divine from school functions.
The school’s “winter program” includes classrooms decorations featuring Santa Claus, Kwanza, Menorahs and La Befana (a Christmas witch).
But just as Ebenezer Scrooge had a Christmas epiphany and saw the error of his ways, so too have Ridgeway school officials.
After Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, learned that officials had outlawed “Silent Night,” he sent two letters to them on behalf of concerned parents demanding that the school drop “Cold in the Night” and reinstate “Silent Night.”
In addition, people from around the country phoned and e-mailed the school, urging officials to abandon their plan to secularize Christmas.
Thankfully, Debra Messer, the school district’s administrator, has stated that “Silent Night” will be sung at the school festival, while “Cold in the Night” has been shelved.
Mr. Staver commented: “Christmas is a state and federal holiday. We don’t change the names of any other federal holiday, nor do we change the words to songs commemorating these holidays. It is absurd to have children sing ‘Cold in the Night’ in place of ‘Silent Night.’”
One is left to wonder when American school officials will learn that their role is not to sanitize American classrooms from all religious expression. Many education officials have become dupes of the ACLU in this regard and have blindly determined to kill off Christmas in the classroom, ignoring court precedent.
You see, our courts have ruled that public schools may legally include religious songs as part of teaching or performance programs in public schools.
In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court once noted: “Music without sacred music, architecture minus the Cathedral, or painting without the scriptural themes would be eccentric and incomplete, even from a secular view.”
Mr. Staver says that religious songs, when they are performed with secular holiday songs, are – without question – permissible.
Liberty Counsel, with 700 constitutional attorneys on board, provides free legal services to those whose religious freedoms have been denied or curtailed. Liberty Counsel may be contacted via e-mail.
As you might imagine, the Christmas season is a busy time for Liberty Counsel and for Jerry Falwell Ministries.
Last week, the organization filed suit against two Florida towns after officials denied the private display of a nativity scene on public property. Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach settled the case prior to the emergency hearing. The nativity scene went up Dec. 12 and will remain through Dec. 31.
Earlier this month, after receiving a demand letter from Liberty Counsel, D.C. Everest School District officials decided not to censor religious themes from a student-sponsored, homeroom door-decorating competition.
Officials had initially declared that doors could be decorated to depict “[a]ny winter scene,” so long as there are “[n]o religious ties.” But students with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes obtained more than 200 student petitions protesting the discriminatory rule. Representing the students, Liberty Counsel issued a demand letter warning the district that such censorship would be met by a lawsuit.
The religious ban was quickly lifted.
‘Friend or Foe’
In recent columns, I’ve detailed how many churches across the nation have purchased “Friend or Foe” ads in local newspapers. It’s not too late for churches to join in this important campaign. The ad can be downloaded [pdf file] from my website and the “Friend or Foe” legal memo can be downloaded free at LC.org.
Churches may call 434-582-2432 to have the National Liberty Journal’s graphics department place any church’s name on the ad free of charge.
We’ve got the secular Grinches on the run. Let’s keep the pressure on them!