The debate over the so-called “War on Christmas” came early this year when two school districts, one in Wisconsin and one in New Jersey, banned religious music during public school concerts this winter.
But after getting national attention, the Bordentown Regional School District in Bordentown, N.J., announced last week it was backing off the musical crackdown.
“In reviewing additional legal considerations and advice on this matter and the expressed sentiments of the community at large, I have reconsidered the decision on the musical selection for the upcoming winter programs so that pieces with traditional and historical religious origins will be permitted,” Superintendent Constance J. Bauer said in a Nov. 1 statement on the district’s website.
Bauer also said the school board will continue to examine the issue to determine how the policy will be handled in the future.
It’s a stark change from the original statement issued Oct. 18 that set off the initial controversy, in which Bauer said a review had led district leaders to ban religious-themed music at elementary school holiday concerts.
“The matter has been taken under review by the district solicitor, who issued an advisory letter that in light of a New Jersey ruling: Stratechuk v. Board of Education of South Orange-Maplewood School District, 577 F. Supp. 2d. 731 (D.N.J. 2008), that religious music should not be part of the elementary program(s),” she said at the time.
It didn’t take long for critics to weigh in.
As TheBlaze previously reported, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group, sent a letter to the Bordentown Regional School District saying officials had an improper understanding of the legal precedents surrounding having religious songs in public schools.
In a post on the firm’s website, they cited the school district’s ban as well as the similar scenario at Wausau West High School in Wausau, Wis., saying the districts have a “misunderstanding of the Establishment Clause.” The Wisconsin school district also backed down.
“In large part due to the misinformation and intimidation of groups like the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), among others, school officials mistakenly believe that the Establishment Clause requires schools to build a brick wall separating church and state,” the Alliance Defending Freedom said.
While the two situations have been been resolved, if the past is any blueprint for the 2013 Christmas season, additional debate over church-state issues is sure to unfold in the coming months.
(H/T: Religion News Service)
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