It is a principle of our public educational system that every activity in a public school ought to have an educational purpose. Elementary school music classes and high school choruses are a frequent source of school First Amendment violations. The line is crossed when that purpose becomes devotional, proselytizing or religiously coercive.
Generally speaking, thoughtful courts looking at religious music in public schools consider age of children; proportion of religious songs sung compared to secular; context (classroom or concert).
Is the religious music at a ceremony or event that children must attend, or would wish to partake in, such as a graduation ceremony? If a curriculum is balanced, the inclusion of some classical sacred music in an educational context may not convey endorsement.
A conscientious teacher or music department can set up a curriculum that respects all students, and avoids sending a proselytizing message. Nurre.
Enlightened school districts have dropped public school concerts timed to coincide only with religious holidays, particularly the Christmas and Easter holidays of the dominant religion, because such timing creates the appearance of school endorsement of one religion’s holiday over others in the eyes of children.
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