Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"An atmosphere-changing tool"

Gospel choir class at Chatham Central High School, NC (on the southern border of Orange County).

I would have a difficult time viewing this as neutral with respect to religion. I think it would need to meet that criteria (or the 3 criteria of Lemon) as this is a class, not a student-directed club. Perhaps if more than half the songs were non-religious in nature or contained a range of songs from different religions, it might be viewed as such. Typically, gospel choirs sing all or almost all religious songs and these are all from one religion.

In contrast, if a school provides a limited public forum in which student-directed clubs are allowed, then a gospel choir would be OK, provided it adheres to the provisions of the Equal Access Act.

The newspaper article presents arguements in favor of the gospel choir - that it contributed to easing of racial tensions, for example. Was not the choir present at the school during the period of racial tensions but as a club instead of a class? And does it really follow that making the club a class (with 28 students out of 450) caused an easing of racial tensions? In any case, the EC is not about the worth of religion. It is about the problems that arise if the line is not respected. If the reporter or school principal would like, I would be happy to explain this but for a more authoritative source I would suggest the ACLU or First Amendment Center.
------- 4/30/05 End comment out old comments section -----> |

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