OK, so I was at my sister-in-law's high school (public) graduation the other day and was disappointed to see God brought into the mix. So I wrote the principal, vice-principal, superintendent and local newspaper the following message:

Good day,

I was in attendance at the graduation ceremony at CASHS to witness my sister-in-law graduate. The weather was great and the
ceremony was nice, however there was one issue... The singing of "Glory
Glory Hallelujah". Being educated individuals, I'm sure that I don't
have to tell you that this act was in violation of the First Amendment
of the Constitution of the United States of America. While the song its
self is nice, it had no place in that setting. Acknowledging that CASHS
is a government funded institution, a song that establishes preference
toward any God or religion is in violation of the Constitutional
separation of church and state. My wife and I were quite disappointed to
witness this gaffe. As an educational institution, I would expect you
to remain true to the law and history that are taught in your very own
corridors and classrooms.


It is my humble plea, as a patriot and concerned citizen that this error not be repeated. We must remain true
to the fine ideals on which this country was founded, and not put
personal beliefs before the rule of law.


I thank you for your time on this matter.


James S.


A few days later and I have only recieved this reply from the superintendent:

James, Thanks for your concern. JPadasak


Obviously, the reply left me wanting. To me it seems like a simple brush-off. He likely doesn't agree with what I said and probably just wants to not be bothered with me. Thing is, I want to press forward and see if I can get him to tell me his stance or see if future changes will be made. But will it end up being a wast of time? I fear it may be, but at worst he will just ignore my email. So... What are your thoughts on this?

Views: 2

Tags: 1st, amendment, god, graduation, sing, song

Comment by Mattress on June 15, 2010 at 2:39am
Well it seems to me that you made a great move in involving the local newspaper. What did they have to say?
Comment by James on June 15, 2010 at 9:02am
No reply as of yet... :\
Comment by B. on June 15, 2010 at 9:38pm
You probably need more people on your side, otherwise it might be hard to win against a majority.

They just took "use your degree to the glory of God" out of my university's graduation speech this year, and I would never describe the campus community as remotely religious. Though we do have catholic church in the middle of it... happens when you're school is 100+ years old I guess!
Comment by James on June 15, 2010 at 10:13pm
Yes, I know that this is likely a futile battle, going it alone. But at the very least, it's my hope that I may enlighten this one individual to follow the law, rather than private opinion. I'm not holding my breath, but here's what I responded will:

Dr. -------,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my message. Sadly neither the principal or vice principal elected to no so. I must inquire though... To your knowledge, was this a simple oversight, or something more deliberate? I'd like to think that the inclusion was an oversight, but with the way the Constitution has been being trampled with greater and greater frequency in this country, one can never be certain. Out of curiosity, do you foresee measures being put in place to assure the Constitutionality of future ceremonies?
I must admit that I am interested in hearing your opinion on this matter. In fact I'm thinking of writing a column to the Chambersburg Public Opinion to see if I can gauge the public understanding of First Amendment law in this area...

Thanks again for your time. I patiently await your reply.

Cheers!
James S.
Comment by James on June 16, 2010 at 2:24pm
Well, here's the reply I got:

James, Your inquiry has been referred to the Solicitor for response since I have no personal knowledge of how the graduation ceremony came about or how future graduation ceremonies may be conducted.. Thanks JP

I honestly can't say that this sounds very promising, but I guess I'll wait and see if the Solicitor bothers to respond. Maybe I'll just have to try the newspaper again...
Comment by Jake W. Andrews on June 16, 2010 at 6:01pm
That is bullshit, I know prayers/benedictions that invoke a particular religion's god is illegal, and in that case call the ACLU immediately. Songs, I think can constitute the same thing, it is invoking only one particular religion, and it wasnt the call to prayer for Muslims. So I would make a call to your local ACLU chapter/office ASAP.
Comment by James on June 16, 2010 at 8:51pm
Good idea. I emailed the ACLU as well to apprise them of this happening. Who knows if it'll go anywhere, but at least I'm not rolling over.
Comment by James on July 14, 2010 at 8:32pm
Surprise! I actually heard something back. And it was actually from the school districts lawyer. Basically they referenced a ruling that religious songs are OK if it is in a secular setting and not meant to indoctrinate... He also said that the fact that the students chose the song, rather being requested by a religious group makes it OK as well.

Here was my reply:

Mr Sulcove,

Thank you for taking the time to address my concern. Sadly, the end result is as I had feared and suspected. I must admit that I certainly do not agree with the reasoning given, but there isn't much more I can do than disagree. In my opinion, the citing of previous ruling concerning these matters has one critical flaw. All too often, those making rulings let their personal feelings and bias influence their decision. I feel that we shouldn't always rely on past precedent. As times change we need to look at some issues with a clear head and open mind. Remember, if we were to rely solely on precedent, we would still burn accused witches at the stake.

I fully understand that there is no way to live in a vacuum devoid of religious reference. There are cultural aspects that remain of many things from our past, whether the previous use or context remain. This is true of modern religion, ancient religion and acts spanning back though the generations. The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” can indeed be a patriotic song, and indeed moving. However, there is a time and a place. In my opinion, a public high school graduation is not one of those places. You assert that there was no religious entanglement of intent to proselytize. Yet, shout it have been a song referencing Islam I'm sure there would have been outrage from the parents present.

When one looks at the spirit of the separation of church and state, it is very clear. The two shall remain separate. Regardless of the ruling, performing a song referencing Christianity and then leaving absent, any representation to at the very least, all the other faiths of the graduating class then a preference is established. There are other such issues in our government that also break this clause, yet pandering for voles over rules what should be done. It is a similar situation here. I'm sure that the majority of students and their families and Christian at CASHS. So pubic opinion outweighs all else. I realize that the performance of the song is relatively harmless. But I fear it opens the door for even greater breaches. I believe in the ideal of Thomas Jefferson's United States of America. An enlightened, educated and free society. One where we are free to believe as we wish and don't have to worry about any governmental power striping us of these opinions. Or worse yet, telling us what to think. If we don't keep the realm of government (and public education) separate from religion, then we have ignored a primary reason from excrecating ourselves from the rule of King George.

If patriotism was truly the concern, then there are far more fitting, and moving selections that could have been performed. I know that my opinion (being the minority) will not make difference in this case. But at the very least I can be happy that my conscious is clear, knowing that I at least fought for what is right and what our founders intended.



Thank you!

James

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