Schools: Remember church, state separation
What is the marching band of a government school, Alpena High School, doing at the Thanksgiving parade? I mean, arriving with a “burst of trumpets and crash of cymbals,” marching “a path through the crowd” (nice writing, Nov. 30, 2019) playing the Christmas carol, “Joy to the World,” (“the Lord is Come”)?
This would not be the lord of any religion but Christian. Even so, my eyes would “glow and I would clap my mittened hands,” too, with my heart beating faster at the thrill of the band playing this particular carol about a Lord of Creation. Yet, it remains, it is the Lord of Creation of our own religion, excluding others in our community who have a “Lord of Creation” of their own. Perhaps the Christmas carol is now a folk tune, a classic melody. But, carols may still feel foreign to people in our town who are adherents of other religions. Really, we want to be inclusive, as opposed to exclusive.
More important, and the reason I’m writing: We have a constitutional separation of religion from the government in this country, so our public schools are secular; government is to remain neutral toward religion — not favoring one religious faith over another. But churches in Alpena have begun to insist on the commingling of the state and religion in their celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas and the keeping of other certain days, such as the National Day of Prayer and prayer breakfasts that some employees of the state attend.
The authorities at Alpena Public Schools need to be reminded that, across the nation these days, when a citizen brings a legal suit against a school district for violating the First Amendment, it is very costly and the school district usually loses.