Wednesday, December 20, 2006

School Chorus Forced to Limit Religious Songs

The War on Christmas continues. From the Detroit News:
The “Hallelujah Chorus” from “The Messiah,” “Glory, Glory” and “Weep O Mine Eyes” are among the repertoire of musical selections to be sung by the nearly 300 members of Howell High School choirs at 7 tonight and Thursday.

But, for every religious song performed by the nine choral groups, 3.33 others have to be secular yuletide offerings as required under a school district’s policy.

“We’re falling within the guidelines. I comply with (the rules) although I don’t agree. I just find the whole thing disturbing that we’re not able to do all the literature I’d like to do,” said Rod Bushey, choral director at Howell High.

Howell Public Schools is one of a handful of districts statewide that limits the amount of religious selections that can be performed.

The 30 percent rule is a 10-year-old policy that erupted in controversy in September when a visiting choir from Germany, arranged through prestigious Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, was told to limit its sacred selections during a school performance.
So it seems that the school district is not merely censoring its own school choir, but visiting choirs as well.

The bureaucrats running the school district don’t see a problem.
“Since that time I have not heard that this is of vital interest to anyone in the community,” Deputy Superintendent Lynn Parrish said Tuesday.

School administrators, who set the guidelines years ago, were told to handle the issue after board members briefly discussed the issue Monday.
Interestingly, the people who have a professional interest in choral music don’t like to be censored.
The Michigan School Vocal Music Association and the American Choral Directors Association endorse a statement claiming sacred text is crucial to choral music education. Excluding religious music from public school curriculum “is to severely limit the possibilities of teaching for artistic understanding,” it says.
We can imagine, of course, that the same secular liberal parents and bureaucrats who demand that religious songs be limited would have a fit if the school district refused to allow, for example, “The Vagina Monologues.”

Indeed, the American Choral Directors Association has adopted the following statement:
Problems of misunderstanding and intent seem to arise most frequently with solo songs and choral compositions which have a sacred text. While public school teaching objectives and criteria for repertoire selection should not include religious indoctrination, the selection of quality repertoire will invariably include, within its broad scope, music with a sacred text. To exclude from a public school curriculum all choral music which has a religious meaning associated with the text is to limit severely the possibilities of teaching for artistic understanding and responsiveness. Such exclusion has as its parallel the study of art excluding paintings related to the various religions of the world, the study of literature without mention of the Bible, or the study of architecture without reference to the great temples and cathedrals of the world.
But what about non-Christians who don’t want to hear Christian music?

They might simply stay home.

They certainly don’t have the right to demand that a program be censored to fit their own religious views (or lack thereof).

In the final analysis, non-Christians have to accept that a large part of the best choral music, and a very large part of the best choral music having anything to do with any holiday celebrated in December, is Christian.

Just as whites have to accept that the black community has produced the vast majority of basketball players of NBA caliber, and the English have to accept that virtually every country on earth has a cuisine better than theirs.

Some things have to be judged on their merits, without any religious bias.


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