BreakPoint Blog

Banner
Barry Lynn Bullies Children at Christmas
Rating: 5.00


Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, is bullying children in a school district to shut them up.

In Tuscumbia, Alabama (population 8,734), the children in the local elementary school will be singing "Silent Night" as part of their Christmas program. That is too much for Lynn and his radical leftist gang. They are threatening the school district with a lawsuit in order to censor the song.

A local news station quoted Lynn as saying, "I hope that cooler heads prevail and people understand that this is a significant constitutional issue and they don't go along with the idea of continuing the plans to sing this hymn as part of what should be a secular public school event."

Obviously Lynn's head is so cool his brain is frozen. Let me get this straight: With over 312 million people in America, the fact that a tiny school in a tiny town will have a few children singing a traditional Christmas carol is, according to Lynn, "a significant constitutional issue"?

Really, Barry? I realize you need to stir things up to get your supporters behind you, but this is what you came up with?

Lynn fancies himself a Constitutional scholar. But if that were true he'd already be aware that the Supreme Court ASSUMES that public school children are singing religious Christmas carols -- they even use the word "hymns" to describe what goes on in school concerts.

In the 1984 Supreme Court case of Lynch v. Donnelly, involving the constitutionality of a city’s display of a Nativity scene, the Court ruled that the display was constitutional. In its ruling, the Court indicated that it assumed public schools were having students sing what it called "Christmas hymns and carols":

"To forbid the use of this one passive symbol -- the creche -- at the very time people are taking note of the season with Christmas hymns and carols in public schools and other public places, and while the Congress and legislatures open session with prayers by paid chaplains, would be a stilted overreaction contrary to our history and to our holdings." (465 US 686)

The local TV news station also reported that the folks at Americans United for Separation of Church and State told them that "this is the only public school they know of where a religious message is being relayed in an elementary school play. And they said that's why they've targeted this school. "

Barry and his cronies need to get out more. If this is the only school they know of that sings traditional Christmas carols, they truly are not in touch with the American people.

(Eric Buehrer is the president of Gateways to Better Education and an occasional blogger at the BreakPoint Blog.)


Comments:

Silent Night
I solidly agree with Brent Thomas Davis. The Constitution states that CONGRESS shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion, nor shall it preven the free exercise thereof. So, unless CONGRESS is involved, the Constitution hasn't been violated. This leaves localities free to express anything they want of a relgious nature. If anything, Secular Humanism has de facto been made our State Religion. People like Barry Lynn are, in fact, violating the Constitutional right of people to freely exercise their faiths. To be blunt, such people are motivated by the spirit of the antichrist (1 John), and will stop at nothing to see Jesus Christ humiliated and driven from public life and thought.
First Amendment reach
Brent, I agree with your endpoint, but not your means of getting there. The First Amendment (and all other aspects of the Bill of Rights) are generally considered binding on all levels of government, not just Congress; the primary justification for this is the 14th Amendment's Due Process clause, which is binding on state and local governments.

At the same time, it is also clearly settled constitutional doctrine that the First Amendment does not require eliminating religious terminology from governmentally-sponsored activities. In particular, the Supreme Court has specifically stated that Bible reading in the public schools is permissible if done for educational rather than devotional purposes. Singing Christmas carols in a holiday concert, particularly if interspersed with secular songs or those of other religions, would certainly be no less protected.

As an educational matter, for a choir (particularly at the high school or college level) to avoid all songs with religious texts would be educational malpractice, since such a large proportion of the classical choral literature uses religious texts. And if schools are going to introduce kids to holidays all over the world (including those of other religions), how is it illegal to recognize our own holidays?

One wonders why Mr. Lynn is so obsessed.
Reaffirm the 1st Ammendment
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The question here is: does the singing of "Silent Night" or any religious song, or saying a prayer clearly from a particular religious perspective constitute a violation of this amendment? Local singing of songs has nothing to do with congress. The first amendment simply does not apply. It is not a US constitutional issue. Let's reaffirm the First Amendment and keep it in its realm and let people be free and understanding to one another.
Brent Thomas Davis
Latent hyprocrisy
Apparently Mr. Lynn was out protesting when they taught the second religious liberty clause in his Constitution classes. And until he and his ACLU peers show the same interest in defending the right of free religious expression and not simply distorting the first clause in order to harass and intimidate that same expression, then I'll assume they're just idealogical posers with an agenda that has very little to do with defending free speech or the Constitution.
silent night
I live in an affluent school district in a suburb of a mid-western city. The district is about 25% Jewish.

Every year there is a major holiday music concert that features the high school band, choir, and two orchestras.
Each of the performing groups plays a variety of music: some secular Christmas carols; some sacred Christmas Hymns, some classical sacred Christmas pieces and some Jewish Hanukka music. Occasionally kwanza music is thrown in for good measure. Every year, the program ends with a stirring rendition of Handel's Messiah performed by the choir, volunteer singers from the audience, and the combined orchestras. The program is moving and beautiful.

As a Christian, I have never been offended by Hanukka music. I have never heard that any of the Jewish people in my community are offended by the Christmas music. The agnostics and atheists haven't complained either. Everyone simply enjoys great music performed by the young musicians.

If Barry showed up in our community, I think the likely outcome would be that nearly everyone would resent his meddling. For the life of me, I have no idea why anyone would prefer a purely secular concert or why anyone would object to the multi-cultural performance.
Silent Night
Eric, thank you for a very informative response.As for being a Constitutional scholar, Mr. Lynn falls far short of knowing what the Supreme Court assumes. Thank you Eric for your knowledge and courage. Your faithfulness is an encouragement. I will pray for Mr. Barry Lynn.
Silent Night
I was in the high school chorus in the early 1980's at a small-town public high school in Pennsylvania. Every year, we had a "Christmas" concert (yes, it was actually called that!) in which we sang songs like "Silent Night," "The First Noel," "We Three Kings," and "The Hallelujah Chorus." NO ONE ever complained, had any issue with the songs, or threatened to sue the school! How, all of a sudden, has it become "unconstitutional" to sing these songs or even mention the word "Christmas?"
Silent Night
I wonder if Barry knows the Amendment about Freedom of Speech. This school and these children are not seeking to start a church or a religion. They are merely singing in a school program.
Silent Night
Hopefully, the information you have sent us has gone to Barry! If he's a Constitutional expert, why doesn't he know what the original intent of separation of church and state was? Also, DoE allows singing of Christian materials by children. And the principal signed an agreement to get Federal funds that he would allow diversity of religion in his school.