Parents declare war on Christmas by branding caroling at school a form of bullying
- Bullying is such a hot topic, yet that seems to be what is occurring here,’ an anonymous parent wrote about carols at school concert
- Parents threatened legal action if the program didn’t evolve to become more secular
- School choir director said the songs were selected to expose children to all different types of holiday heritages
- Legal expert says there’s no ‘constitutional crisis to sing Christmas songs’
PUBLISHED: 15:43 EST, 18 December 2012 | UPDATED: 16:34 EST, 18 December 2012
A group of Missouri parents are saying that the sound of the angelic voices of children singing Christmas carols is NOT a joyful noise.
They have accused the Chief Charlo Elementary School in Missoula, Missouri of creating an environment that allows bullying by including yuletide tunes that reference Jesus Christ at a school holiday concert.
The protesting parents say their children are ‘forced to be reformed to what is seen as the majority’ by singing the holiday melodies and claimed their children would be ‘singled out’ and ‘targeted’ if they did not join in with the caroling.
For the concert on December 12, students from kindergarten to the third grade sang, ‘Joy to the World,’ ‘Up On a House Top,’ ‘Jolly Old St. Nicholas,’ ‘O Christmas Tree,’ ‘O Come Little Children,’ ‘Deck the Halls,’ a Polish lullaby, a Hanukkah song, a pinata song, a Nutcracker rhythm piece and ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ for the finale.
Students in the fourth and fifth grade had a separate concert where they sang, ‘Season of Bells,’ ‘Dreidel Spins,’ ‘Good Christian Men Rejoice,’ ‘Merry Merry,’ ‘Jolly Old St. Nicholas’ and ‘Go in Peace,’ for the concluding song.
An anonymous letter was sent to the school superintendent last week, expressing outrage at the repertoire of holiday tunes.
‘We pay the taxes for this school. It is a public school. I have no problem with children having personal religious practices at school but to choose one religion and make it part of the curriculum is wrong,’ the author, who only identified themselves as representing ‘Chief Charlo Concerned Parents,’ wrote.
‘My children are crying because they don’t want to be singled out but what they are doing in school directly conflicts with their faith,’ the parent continued, claiming students would be ‘targeted’ if they expressed discomfort at singing a religious carol.
‘Bullying is such a hot topic, yet that seems to be what is occurring here,’ the parent wrote, adding that the students were being ‘forced to be reformed to what is seen as the majority.’
But the school denied that the selection of holiday songs was creating antagonism among the students, according to John Combs, the fine arts director for the school district who oversaw the musical selection.
‘If I thought students were being bullied we would take measures to ensure that wasn’t happening,’ he told the MailOnline.
According to Combs, the musical offerings try ‘to strike a balance’ between the different traditions of the holidays.
‘We want the students to be exposed to a number of things. There will be some years where there will be no sacred music and some years there is.’
‘Every year we get comments from one side or the other. Either the concert is too religious or it’s not religious enough.’
Though the unnamed parent threatened to take legal action against the public school for mentioning the name of Jesus in a song, a First Amendment legal specialist doubted the case would have much merit.
‘It doesn’t create a constitutional crisis to sing Christmas songs at Christmastime,’ David Cortman,
senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), told the MailOnline.
Mr Cortman noted the educational importance of the concert as a ‘truncated view of our culture and of music in general.’
‘If every time there was a piece of art or classical musical with a religious theme, we censored it – we would be eliminating much from the students’ education.’
Mr Cortman added there is no ‘basis for a legal challenge’ in the complaint from the Missouri parents, who have yet to identify themselves.
He noted another example that occurred in late October, when an atheist group complained that students at the Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas were invited to a local church to see a performance of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’
Though the trip was voluntary and the program not religious in nature, a statement from the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers said, ‘The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state, it oversteps it entirely.’
Christmas or X-mas? The conservative group, the American Family Association, has alerted members to declare their support for Christmas (left) while secularists say it is better to keep the holiday neutral
Similar to the Missouri case, an anonymous parent of an Arkansas student was angered by the invitation and said that even though she could opt to not allow her child to attend, she agreed to let her daughter participate because she feared the girl would be singled out.
Some have gone as far to say that there is a ‘War on Christmas,’ with religious imagery and even the word Christmas being deemed offensive.
A conservative Christian group, the American Family Association, has even compiled a list of retailers and rated the brands based on how overtly they incorporate Christmas into their holiday retailing.
They assign a top Blue rating to brands that promote Christmas on an ‘exceptional’ basis in their marketing efforts and a Green rating to stores that refer to Christmas on a regular basis.
A Yellow rating means the company refers infrequently to Christmas infrequently and a Red rating is left for those brands that use Christmas sparingly.
Despite all the buzz regarding the religious songs on the program at the Chief Charlo school, Combs reported that the December 12 concert was a success.
Several hundred proud parents and family members turned out to watch the show and the kids were excited as ever to get dressed up and perform.
He said the school wants to give a ‘flavor of the the rich tradition in Americas’ of different faiths and different cultures.
‘We’re not advancing or inhibiting any religion,’ he clarified.
He said he has received complaints in the past and it disappointed that this parent has chosen to not identify themselves and provide specifics of a potential problem.
‘If someone is really upset at singing a song, nobody makes them do it.’
‘I would need for the parent to be a more specific as to how their children was being bullied, in order to know how to prevent it,’ he added.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2250192/Group-Missouri-parents-declare-war-Christmas-branding-caroling-school-form-bullying.html#ixzz2FS8d5eKL