A Mississippi high school band was prevented from performing during halftime of the season’s opening football game out of fear that one of their songs would violate the First Amendment. Brandon High School refused to allow is band to play based on a court order that ruled one of its songs — a religious hymn called “How Great Thou Art” — was unconstitutional.
According to Opposing Views, Brandon High School has a history of religious tension. The school district was sued in 2013 by a student who was uncomfortable with the fact that Christian meetings were being held on school property. The student won that case, but the school was found in violation of the First Amendment yet again this year after a judge discovered a minister had held a prayer session at a school awards ceremony. The school was threatened by Judge Reeves U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves on July 10 with a $10,000 fine for any future religious violations. Hence, the band was unable to perform on Friday.
According to Fox News, students and parents staged a protest of the ruling during the game last Friday in order to — quite literally — voice their disapproval. During halftime, one defiant fan apparently started singing “How Great Thou Art.” Slowly, the movement caught on and a good portion of the crowd stood and sang along. Even though the band wasn’t on the field, the religious members of the crowd were able to sing and hear their hymn. The school is unofficially continuing its religious practices.
Although the high school football fans staged a sort of protest, the judge’s ruling represents another example of secular groups cracking down on the presence of religion in Mississippi schools. Recently, a middle school teacher in the state was forced to remove a prayer board she had displayed after receiving threats of legal action from a Washington D.C.-based humanist group. These two instances represent the fact that religion — particularly Christianity — is being promoted in Mississippi schools. At least the government and humanist groups are taking action to ensure religious equality, even if the Christian individuals are fighting back.
Image Source: Opposing Views