School District Allows Silent Night in Program

The Superintendent of Tuscumbia City Schools says students at G.W. Trenholm can proceed with plans to sing ‘Silent Night’ in their Christmas program next week.

Someone protested the use of the song in the program, and got the backing of a national group, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The group sent a letter to the school system earlier this week, saying the song was unconstitutional because it contained religious wording.

Dr. Joe Walters, Superintendent of Tuscumbia City Schools, says the school board’s attorney, James D. Hughston, has reviewed the matter closely.

“The Christmas program includes a variety of well known Christmas songs that advance the students’ knowledge of our cultural and religious heritage,” Dr. Walters wrote in an email to WHNT News 19 on Friday.

“We have been advised by our attorney that the use of traditional Christmas music, including carols such as Silent Night, in the context of a school Christmas program has been permitted and ruled not to be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” wrote Dr. Walters.

“Accordingly, we intend to allow our students to proceed with the Christmas program they have prepared to perform,” Dr. Walters added. “We are confident the program will be enjoyed by all of our students and their families.”

The students will perform the Christmas program on Monday and Tuesday nights. They have been rehearsing for several weeks, and have even learned sign language for ‘Silent Night.’
Parents we talked with earlier this week were furious about the matter.

“I just don’t think that other people should impose their values or beliefs on us, just like we as Christians impose it necessarily on others,” said Johnson. “I don’t think they’re making people participate if they don’t want to. It’s their choice.”

Johnson saw the kids practice the program, and said ‘Silent Night’ is very moving.

“If you see it, it’s beautiful. They sign, it’s the whole school,” said Johnson. “It’s like watching angels sing it. It’s beautiful.”

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