Lynn v. Sekulow

Lynn v. Sekulow


No, Jay, the Toe Tapping Will Have To Go

posted by Rev. Barry W. Lynn

Well, Jay, we didn’t agree about holding graduations in churches.  It looks like we won’t agree on what students can say or do at graduation, either.

Songs which mention God are usually called “hymns.”  Hymns are prayers set to music.  Prayers should not be a part of a public junior high graduation ceremony.  Although the facts you relate in your post about the California case are pretty sparse, it seems completely appropriate for the school to veto inclusion of a “song [that] mentions God” at the event.  (Frankly, I’d prefer never to see tap dancing on general principle, but the First Amendment wouldn’t allow a government body to bar such performances all together.)

Now, let’s look at a few other possibilities.  Should a toe-tapper be allowed to perfom a song by my pal Roy Zimmerman, which pokes fun at religion?  No, because schools are supposed to be strictly neutral on this topic. Should a student speaker be able to turn his or her graduation address into a sermon warning that any audience members who don’t convert to Christianity that night will burn in hell for eternity?  No, if such a speech is known to be coming, school officials have every right and responsibility to instruct the student that this is inappropriate.  Now, should that student be able to thank Uncle Ralph, his mother, and Jesus for helping him through high school?  There, I’d say “no big deal.”  That really is a personal observation only.

So, let’s see the lyrics of your California tap dancer’s tune.  If it is the modern hymn it sounds like, it has to go.  If “God” is some fleeting reference (a spiritiual equivalent to John Lennon’s line in “Imagine” that notes “imagine no religion”) maybe the student should be cut some slack.  Only upon seeing all the facts will we know if this is censorship or a commonsense action by a school that understands the First Amendment.

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Sharon

posted April 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm


Frankly, I’m torn on the issue.
While I disagree with obnoxious people who try to turn events into their own religious ceremonies in sneaky ways (such as songs)
I do take advantage of my right to change the wording of the songs (which usually stands out.)
There hasn’t been an event yet where someone hasn’t approached me afterward looking for camaraderie against “the obnoxious ones.”
It has proven to be an effective way to meet mentally health people.



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Your Name

posted April 29, 2009 at 5:09 pm


I’ve attended public school graduations in large churches and at the local outdoor sports stadium. By far, the ceremonies inside the comfortable church was more agreeable. It was very obvious that each event was a graduation and not a religious service.
What I do have a beef with is “cults” (not valid religious organizations) being allowed to rent public schools for their meetings.
If there is a concern with public schools using churches for special events there should be much more concern for groups masquerading as churches using public schools for their regular meetings. If a group has a history of being a thought-reform, mind control group and is verified so by the cult experts why do public schools allow them to use their facilities?



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judith yocius

posted April 29, 2009 at 7:20 pm


Dear Rev. Lynn:
How do you interpret this small bit of God’s word? I am especially interested in the thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities. Colossians 1:16
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
Thank you for you input….



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Mary-Lee

posted April 30, 2009 at 9:18 am


What I do have a beef with is “cults” (not valid religious organizations) being allowed to rent public schools for their meetings.
I understand your concern, but several religions have started out as “cults.” In fact, Christianity began as a “cult” according to our present definition of that word.
I don’t like any religious group using a school, during the school’s off hours, for its meetings, although I know it happens. Maybe they could rent a movie theater, before the shows begin.



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Jimbino

posted April 30, 2009 at 11:16 am


The wonderful and interesting thing is that a graduation speech extolling Charles Darwin, Bertrand Russell or Steven Weinberg, atheist scientists all, would be totally allowed, since it would be referring to science, not religion.
The sad fact is that all this strife over graduation speeches is directly attributable to the fact that we maintain socialist public schools that not only manage to offend everybody, but that also can’t teach the kids, and that at great expense.
Time to privatize all schools, so parents can vote with their feet if they don’t like religious ceremonies in schools. Statism ruins everything.



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Nicholas

posted April 30, 2009 at 3:12 pm


Atheism is not a religion.



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Your Name

posted April 30, 2009 at 6:05 pm


I agree with Jimbino. A person should be able to send their children to the school of their choice if that school is accredited for the basic curriculum established by the State the school is in.
Schools have children a large part of their time. Within established laws of the State, people should have the right (Bill of Rights) to pass on their religion to their children. This is nearly impossible with a public school monopoly on their education.



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Boris

posted April 30, 2009 at 7:37 pm


Your Name,
What planet do you live on? Here on earth in the U.S. parents CAN send their children to the school of their choice if that school is accredited for the basic curriculum established by the State the school is in. No one has to send their kids to a public school if they don’t want to. But we all reap the benefits of public education whether we actually have children in the system or not. So we all need to pay taxes to support the public schools regardless if we have children in them. The majority of self-made millionaires in the U.S. are public school graduates and a surprising number of them went no further than that.
It’s quite revealing that you think the facts children learn in school will keep their parents from being able to pass their religion on to them. “If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth” – H.P. Lovecraft. Facts have no pace in religion do they?



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DSJulian

posted April 30, 2009 at 8:05 pm


Jimbino: “The sad fact is that all this strife over graduation speeches is directly attributable to the fact that we maintain socialist public schools that not only manage to offend everybody, but that also can’t teach the kids, and that at great expense. Time to privatize all schools, so parents can vote with their feet if they don’t like religious ceremonies in schools. Statism ruins everything.”
The only thing wrong with that statement is that it is completely false. We maintain public schools (like we maintain public police and fire departments, utilties, libraries, courts, and armed forces) because they are part of the public square and are best managed for our common interest rather than some stockholders’ net profit. There is no evidence anywhere that students receive any better education in private religious schools (especially charter schools) than public schools. The only thing statism ruins is false religious claims and the religious wars against science, education, and diversity.



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Lenny

posted May 2, 2009 at 10:06 am


We have just become so insane in this country. There is nothing wrong with a couple of hymnal type songs in a public schools performance. It doesn’t hurt anyone they are songs! How are we ever going to become a strong nation again if we continue to turn everyting into a conflict? We are doomed if we continue on this path! We are a nation founded under God and I believe that is why this country has been so blessed. We need something greater then ourselves. As we can see the more secular we have become, the greater the corruption and degradation of this society.



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Boris

posted May 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm


The truth: As we can see the more secular we have become, the LESS the religious corruption and degradation of this society. Things are getting better not worse.



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Mary-Lee

posted May 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm


Lenny, hymns are usually very bad songs. I’ve yet to hear one that doesn’t sound like a march or a lullaby. Let’s have a little quality in the music schools teach, can we?



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N. Lindzee Lindholm

posted December 1, 2009 at 9:53 pm


I vehemently disagree with your incorrect analysis that a song that mentions “God” is a hymn or prayer to music. You broke your own rule, stating that Lennon’s “Imagine” does not fit your cookie cutter image for a hymn. Why are you jumping to conclusions about “Awesome God”? Is a painting that has the word “God” depicted on it a sermon or religious exercise? I don’t think so. Neither is this song. Why don’t you steal one of the songs that the Olympic ice skaters dance to and see how it affects them. The same result would happen here. Stealing the song away is like a choir without accompaniment. It just doesn’t jive. I’m so glad the ACLJ won here!



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