We’re getting ready for my daughter’s Spring Concert that’s to take place later this evening at her school. It’s part of her choir class and as such her attendance is required. I’m not looking forward to it. Not because I don’t appreciate Courtney’s singing ability, but because I probably won’t appreciate the selection of songs her choir will be performing. During their annual Winter Concert the choir performed a number of overtly religious songs which I felt were inappropriate for a school event. I expected there to be some religious songs involved in the program as the courts in general have pretty much dismissed the handful of lawsuits that have been brought up over the issue over the years and I thought the choir teacher had done a fairly reasonable job of mixing in enough non-religious music to keep from appearing to promote religion to any great degree. Then we came to the end of the program at which point the teacher had the kids wrap things up by singing a benediction. That, I felt, was crossing the line. You can argue the point that choir classes should sing traditional religious songs to some degree as part of the study of choral music’s history as that was their primary reason to exist to begin with. By closing the program with a benediction, however, you move away from it being a choral study to more of a religious service that promotes only one religious viewpoint.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are a lot of songs of an unmistakenably religious nature that are worth listening to, if not so much for the message, as for how beautifully they are written and performed. In a public school setting, though, you have to be careful to present them in a way that doesn’t appear to be promoting that particular religious viewpoint. I felt the Plymouth-Canton district failed to do that with their Winter Concert. As their Spring Concert is really nothing more than the traditional “Easter” concert renamed to avoid lawsuits, I don’t have high expectations they’ll handle it much better tonight. Still, I do want to support my daughter and encourage her in her interests so I will be there tonight. Gritting my teeth at times I’m sure, but I’ll be there just the same.