Wisconsin Christmas Music Battle Goes Viral; Students Claim Victory

We reported the story last Sunday — the media ran with it Tuesday. By Wednesday Freedom From Religion Foundation got in on the act. It appears to be the first big national story in the War on Christmas 2013.

In an update after a late Thursday meeting with the school district students and parents are claiming victory and that the Christmas concerts are now back on — with traditional Christmas music put back in place.

Here’s the issue: without warning the choir director at West High School in Wausau, Wisconsin was called to discuss plans for the upcoming music events to be held in December. It was reported early on that Wausau schools three options for December concerts, which typically contain a significant amount of religious music: choose five secular, or non-religious, songs for each religious song performed; hold a concert and have no holiday music whatsoever; or postpone any concerts in December. The choir director was outraged and in response he opted not only to cancel concerts — he disbanded the music groups who would traditionally perform.

The school district claims it is merely making sure they don’t violate the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution (because educators in Wisconsin have SUCH a great track record with constitutional issues). They also say now they never came up with the plan to perform a certain amount of secular songs for every religious song performed. They claim that was a “misunderstanding”.

Needless to say, as with many battles we’ve seen before about Christmas in public schools, this one too will end with someone being very unhappy.

Freedom from Religion Foundation president Annie Laurie Gaylor claims no responsibility in this latest fight but was quick to pitch in with FFRF’s support of the school district:

“There can be a fine line, and we understand in some instances there can be sacred classical music in the schools, but it’s so easy for something like this to turn into a message of indoctrination. When you have a chorus going out to 15 places to sing religious music, it really does give the appearance that the school is celebrating Christianity.”

Yes, Christianity as gained so many converts over the decades by going to nursing homes to sing “Silent Night”.

The tip off of a problem was that the school choir director met with school district officials with an attorney present. In other words, they were ready for a fight.

According to a story on The Blaze tonight, the choir director at West High is known for his religious nature.

All this intense attention to the issue appears to have been resolved as of late Thursday. The Wausau School District has backed off on the requirements and have left the decision of local program content to school principals.

The crux of the issue comes down to this: when a school group performs Christmas music with religious themes does it in fact constitute promotion of that religion? The “establishment clause” prohibits the “establishment”…does a school group singing actually do that?

Oh, and by the way, where exactly in the Constitution is the establishment clause?

Another silly chapter in the War on Christmas.

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