05/19/2012 United States (Christian Post) – An Idaho first-grader’s plan to perform a song by worship singer Chris Tomlin using sign language for a talent show is back on track after the school’s principal originally banned the entry, deeming the song “too religious.”
Lena Whitmore Elementary School reversed its decision after the Alliance Defense Fund sent a letter to the school and district officials pointing out that banning the performance would be unconstitutional.
The Christian-based lawyers group released a statement on Friday that said ADF remains concerned about a district policy that will allow free speech violations to continue if it is left unchanged.
“Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas. Removing the voice of faith from schools sends a message to all students that religion is something to be ashamed of,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Matt Sharp. “The school district is off to a good start in allowing this performance to occur, but it needs to revise its unconstitutional policy so that this doesn’t happen again.”
The first-grade student decided to participate in her school’s annual talent show by performing sign language to the song “We Fall Down” by Tomlin, according to ADF. Although an audition panel responded positively to her audition performance of the song, the school’s principal later contacted the student’s mother to let her know the song was “too religious” to be performed in the talent show.
The principal cited a district policy on “Private Religious Expressions” that ADF lawyers say inaccurately states that “the right of private religious expression in school buildings, on school grounds or at school sponsored events does not include the right to have a ‘captive audience’ to listen.”