A high school in Ohio has been threatened by an atheist organization over a 70-year tradition of singing songs by Mozart and Handel at graduation ceremonies because of their religious content.
For 70 years, choirs at East Liverpool High School in the Buckeye State have been classical songs, including Mozart’s “Requiem Mass” and Handel’s “Messiah” at their graduation ceremonies.
But the school’s performance including the songs at last year’s commencement may be its last.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a threatening letter to the school board demanding that the songs’ performances at graduation ceremonies must be stopped. Not everyone — including East Liverpool choral director Lisa Ensinger — is happy about it.
“I really don’t want to get upset, so forgive me for being emotional,” Ensinger expressed before contending that the censorship of music because of its religious content is setting a dangerous precedent.
She is dismayed that students may never get to hear not only Mozart and Handel, but numerous other timeless composers from centuries past.
“Mozart — his ‘Requiem Mass’ would no longer be allowed,” Ensinger pointed out. “Handel’s ‘Messiah’ would no longer be allowed — all of the music from the medieval period would never be allowed.”
Local school board president, Larry Walton, said at a recent board meeting that he’s unwilling to fight the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“I’m sorry this happened, but it’s a war we can’t win,” Walton conceded.
But attorney and American Family Association public policy director Abraham Hamilton III argues that the school shouldn’t throw in the towel.
“It’s important for East Liverpool High School and other groups and citizens across the country to not allow the bullying tactics of groups who profess to know what the Constitution says — to not allow them to threaten our free exercise of religion,” the legal expert asserted.
Hamilton also says forcing the courts to back that exercise is the best way to put the bullies in their place.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.