Target: The Freedom from Religion Foundation
Goal: Stop discrimination and drop charges against a New York public school district for its appropriate use of songs that include religious lyrics.
A New York public school district is being challenged by an atheist group for teaching songs to elementary school students that include variations of the name “God.” A parent was upset that such songs were being sung in class and threatened to sue. However, the school was only using the songs in an educational way and should not be punished for their choice of curriculum.
Freedom from Religion Foundation claims that it is “predatory” to teach such songs to young children and feels that singing the songs in the classroom does not demonstrate a separation church and state. Songs sung by elementary students included, among others, “Thank you for the World So Sweet,” “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” The school stands by its position, stating that the songs were included in curriculum because they “appropriately taught musical concepts” and were not used as a form of school prayer, as was claimed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation and supporters.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation should not pursue this New York school district over teaching curriculum that involves religious-themed songs because the songs are being used appropriately to instruct students and are not forcing students to pray. The Freedom from Religion Foundation must be told that not everyone approves of removing such songs just because they include God’s name or have Christian undertones.
Dear Freedom from Religion Foundation,
You are currently working with a parent of a child from the Shenendehowa Central Schools in New York to sue Okte Elementary School over songs in curriculum that hint at religion. Your claims that such music is “predatory” and is a form of school prayer are not accurate. This curriculum uses songs that teach musical concepts that have great value, which is why the songs were included classroom instruction. The songs should not be removed because they in no way force students to pray or assume a religious affiliation.
Challenging Okte Elementary School over this issue shows that your organization goes to extremes to censor expressions of Christianity, even if such “expressions” are being used educationally instead of religiously. This is a new kind of discrimination in itself—your organization is singling out Christianity alone while ignoring other religious groups such as Muslims or Jews, and is disregarding the merit these songs have as teaching tools. Please stop discriminating against Christianity and drop charges against Shenendehowa Central Schools.
[Your Name Here]
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