By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Sunday, July 24, the Alabama Media Group’s Ivana Hrynkiw is reporting that Holtville High School marching band will be allowed to play the hymn “Amazing Grace” at football game half-times after all.
The School Superintendent admitted that public reaction played a role in his decision to reverse his earlier position on the controversial song. Elmore County Schools Superintendent Andre Harrison said, “After word of my decision circulated, I heard from many concerned parents, and frankly I still had reservations about my initial decision. I asked counsel to do further research on this issue and present me with options that would keep the district in legal compliance, but permit performance of one of the most iconic songs in the history of our nation.”
Harrison originally had said that he had to ban the tune in order to follow the law, after one person called to complain twice that the song was unconstitutional. Since then other legal scholars have expressed skepticism about that legal opinion.
The Montgomery based Foundation for Moral Law urged the school board to reconsider.
Foundation President Kayla Moore said, “Singling out religious music for censorship is not religious neutrality, it is religious hostility. Neither our Constitution nor our cultural history requires this.”
Foundation Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe said, “In Florey v. Sioux Falls School District and other cases, the courts have held that public schools may perform religious music as part of a general secular program. The playing of “Amazing Grace” as part of a halftime show is certainly in keeping with that and other rulings.”
Eidsmoe added, “The Foundation stands ready to advise school boards and other governmental bodies on issues concerning the relationship of church and state and the role of religion in the public arena. We urge public officials to contact us before caving in to separationist demands. That way, they can make fully informed decisions.”
In his earlier statement to the Elmore & Autauga News, Supt. Harrison said, “Our Constitution prohibits us from promoting religion in our educational programs and activities. While we understand the feelings of the parents who are unhappy about the decision, we have an obligation to comply with the law.”
State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) had urged the school to reconsider the decision.
Critics point out that if schools were to purge all references to God from the musical play list, then “God Bless America,” the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the Marine Corps Anthem, which has a reference to Marines guarding the streets of heaven, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” “Jesus take the Wheel,” the US Navy’s “Anchors Aweigh,” “Ghost Ryders in the Sky,’ the US Air Force’s Into the “Wild Blue Yonder,” Alabama’s “Angels Among Us,” and even Hank Williams Jr.’s “A Country Boy can Survive” all have references to either God, Christ, the Devil, or Christian worship in them. To remove all references to God would amount to a cultural jihad.
To hear the song, click here.
(Original reporting by the Alabama Media Group contributed to this report)