My 12 year old daughter came home from school with a new song for chorus class. The song is called "The Echo Carol" with lyrics like "praise the lord, child in bethlehem, redeem the world from sin." and so on. She goes to a public middle school in R.I. Does anyone know the precedent or what can be done. I don't really want to draw attention to my daughter, its hard enough being a middle school-er. i was thinking of trying to anonymously call and complain. Does anyone have any experience with this situation?

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ACLU or Freedom From Religion Foundation

amazing, who do these people think they're fooling?
The Constitution does not permit such activity on public ground!

Weird, usually arts related classes don't see that type of stuff; especially in public school...
being stuck without knowing any better in the 80's private school days is another story.
My (admittedly limited) understanding is that stuff like chorus is more-or-less exempt from the rule that religion be kept out of the classroom because many songs have a religious theme and it would be unreasonable to insist that all music selections be strictly secular. There's a difference between being taught religious songs in chorus and creationism/intelligent design in biology class. If she's not being told that the stuff she's singing about is actually true then I think it would be best to let this slide. There's lots of awesome music with religious themes, and atheists should enjoy them as much as anybody else.
You're incorrect. If it's a class activity during structured school hours (not recess, etc), then it's barred unless it's serves a secular educational purpose. IE: a class on comparative religion, acceptable. A class on religions influence on art, acceptable. The History of world religions, acceptable. A class on how you need to act to be a good christian, unacceptable.

If it's on UNSTRUCTURED time like recess or a after or before school hours club then it is acceptable, however they ALSO would have to allow say an agnostic group too if it were wanted. If it's a holiday performance than it's usually allowed except in the most extreme schools.

That being said... I wouldn't expect much to come from anonymous complaints of a single party. I think most schools are aware of these issues nowadays and if they chose to do it I would assume it was with the assumption some few might have issues and they were ok with that. I personally wouldn't expect it to be changed without a row on a scale you probably don't want to be involved in given your comment about not wanting to draw attention to your daughter. I'm not suggesting you do or not make a fuss, simply that I don't expect them to do much without them.

I'd call the ACLU or Freedom From Religion Foundation for better specific advice on your specific circumstance however as they undoubtedly know MUCH more than I ;)
I can understand why the parent of the 12 year old girl would be upset by this, especially since she's required to recite religious lyrics. I'd just hate to imagine what band class would have been like with the same ban. A lot of the beginner level tunes have religious themes to their lyrics. No Ode to Joy? No Goin' Home? Fortunately, you don't have to learn the lyrics to play the song on an instrument.

I think taking all of these songs out of a class that teaches classical music is a bit like taking all of the religious themed art out of an art history class. However, that does not justify only teaching Christian themed music, or treating the religious themes as anything more than a part of history.
I must protest. Too many great songs fit under your catagory of unacceptable for such strict guidlines. I personaly like religious art. The showing of angels and deamons like music is a reflection of peoples insights of one of the largest mass delutions of history. If anything allowing children at a certain age to observe the culture and decipher what they can from it. Not all children are easily indocrinated. While a 12 year od is still impressionable they're easily capable of learning new things. Teaching that mass groups of people believe in a supreme being is ok so long as they're not told to believe in it.
It's hard to tell at times but if this reply was to my post I think you should reread it.
The only thing I noted as unacceptable was:
"A class on how you need to act to be a good christian, unacceptable"

Teaching about what people believe is fine if it's in a purely educational context or studying religious influences on art and music etc. It's teaching that one founding religious believe is correct that is not acceptable.
Songs are tricky. I think if it's learning, then almost anything is fine. If it's performance, that's a bit different because it's active. I wouldn't want to sing about the glory of god any more than I'm sure a Christian would want to sing about the Majesty of Great Satan.
I think more slack should be cut for older classics than a new Jonas Brothers "God is my best buddy" types. At the end of the day however I think the best way is when in doubt just let the kid sit out and not have to participate in that one or more songs /shrug. Sometimes the simple answers work for the greyer areas.
Speaking of sitting out, one of my good friends in middle school(that usually sat next to me in the trumpet section), was from a Jewish family. Whenever the more overtly Christian songs came up, Christmas carols and what not, she'd sit out and if we were being tested on one of those songs she'd be assigned an alternate one. I don't remember any of the other kids giving her a hard time about it, and she was always happy to talk about being culturally Jewish(she was one of the only people I knew that didn't really believe in god at that age).
I have to agree. Would you expect the school to teach art class without telling students about Michaelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel or da Vinci's "Last Supper"?

Some religious-themed works are to be expected in art and music classes (and perhaps in English courses as well).
Tell them you want diversity, to be fair to the other religions, the Christian teacher should be told to say muslim prayers in class as-well. lol
Totally depends on the context of when the song was sung.
I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. It's only a song, we hear the same stuff every Christmas.
Call and talk to the teacher. See if you can find out the reason that piece was chosen. Technically, music teachers can teach religious music if they are teaching it for a musical concept rather than religious reasons. The hard part about choir is that historically much of the music is religious in nature. While there is more secular music being written, music programs don't have the budget to replace all of the religious music.

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