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Our Kids Have a Constitutional Right to Sing Traditional Christmas Carols at Public School Concerts

On Wednesday, December 11, 2013, the Pearl River Middle School held its annual, politically correct Winter concert during which the students from the chorus, orchestra, and band performed musical selections with great fervor and skill.  The concert program included the following disclaimer: “Music selections have been chosen to reflect a wide array of cultural traditions and are consistent with the Pearl River School District Middle School music curriculum.” As usual, the song selection did not reflect my Christian cultural tradition—a tradition I share with the majority of people living and paying school taxes in Pearl River. Traditional Christmas carols were very noticeably absent from the concert program, aside from one, “Do you hear what I hear?” Well, the audience did not hear any more traditional Christmas carols after that one. Other songs associated with Christmas were performed, but they were obscure and unrelated to any Christmas tradition I am aware of.

Throughout the elementary school years, and now the middle school years, I have gone to the public school concerts to support my child and the other students. But each year I am offended by the deliberate omission of traditional Christmas songs, such as “Silent Night” and “The First Noel.”  Our children have a constitutional right to sing Christmas carols at school.  The First Amendment to the United States Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech . . .” According to the Alliance Defending Freedom (AllianceDefendingFreedom.org), the First Amendment “restricts the government’s ability to suppress speech and expressive activity—including religious expression. No court has ever ruled that the Constitution demands school officials to censor Christmas carols, eliminate all reference to Christmas, or silence those who celebrate Christmas.”

Perhaps our local public school officials have been intimidated, like many of us, by the agents of political correctness into suppressing religious expression in our public schools. Hey, these days many of us are even afraid to say “Merry Christmas” in public!  I urge school officials to stand up for the constitutional right of our children to sing traditional Christmas carols at school concerts, and to read the letter sent by the Alliance Defending Freedom to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide explaining this constitutional right (available online at  https://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/content/docs/issues/school/Memo-Christmas.pdf).  

After all, our tax dollars pay for these school concerts.  The least we could get in return is a good ol’ Christmas carol.

A Merry Christmas to you all.

Stephanie Finucane

Pearl River

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