Sunday, May 31, 2009

Should Schools Ban Religious Music?

There have been a great many instances where school administrators banned certain music because it had a religious theme. This even included instances where a song that mentioned "God" was sung with the word God omitted - silence was in its place (not unlike the way some TV shows blank out a profane word).

The usual justification for this is the so-called "separation of church and state" (based on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment). That is a tremendous mis-use of the clause intended originally to keep the Federal Government from establishing a nation religion that everyone would be forced to follow.

The Rutherford Institute often fights for the rights of students and music teachers in these cases. And the National Association for Music Education (MENC) has even written guidelines for schools on appropriate use of religious music, which is part of our culture and an important part of the world or music in general. The guidelines specify that "the study and performance of religious music within an educational context is a vital and appropriate part of a comprehensive music education. The omission of sacred music from the school curriculum would result in an incomplete educational experience."

I studied Music History in college. This was a totally secular view of music at a state university (i.e. not a Christian college). Much of our time was spent studying various religious music, not as worship but because it was significant in the music history of the world.

Such silly prohibition of religious music from public schools shows yet another "creative" interpretation of the fairly simple words of the First Amendment.

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