Right Opinion

School Marching Band Stands Up to Tone-Deaf Atheists

Todd Starnes · Oct. 7, 2017

High school football is a religion in the Deep South. So it’s really no surprise that the halftime show at Leeds High School is a religious experience.

The Alabama high school marching band’s show includes classical music, pop rock and several traditional hymns.

This year’s show features renditions of, among others, “Amazing Grace,” “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

In addition to the religious-flavored music, the marching band’s routine includes church pews on the football field.

While the show is quite popular with most of the folks in town, it’s not exactly a toe-tapper for an aggrieved atheist.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of perpetually offended atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers, fired off a letter to the school district warning that the halftime show violates the law.

“Turning a school-sponsored marching band performance into a religious event violates the constitutional separation of religion and government,” the FFRF wrote.

“Leeds City Schools has a responsibility to ensure that performances by school-sponsored groups do not impermissibly promote religion over non-religion or Judeo-Christianity over all minority faiths,” it added.

It alleged (without proof) that the marching band’s director told students if they did not like religious music they should “drop out.”

“The band director’s actions are over the line,” FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement.

Normally, terrified school districts capitulate once they receive one of FFRF’s threatening letters.

But we’re talking about the Deep South, folks. And the good people of Alabama don’t have any qualms about telling a bunch of out-of-town agitators to take their threats and blow ‘em out their trombone.

“We are going to keep the music as is,” Principal Brent Shaw told me. “We have evaluated our props to see if we need to adjust those, but we are not changing the music.”

The principal pointed out that the halftime show is 99 percent instrumental.

“We are not trying to offend anybody or convert anybody,” the principal told me. “It’s just a variety show with all types of cross-cultural music.”

For example, the band’s version of “I Saw the Light” was written by Hank Williams, Sr.

“And Hank, Sr. was not trying to convert anybody,” the principal said.

Still, the atheists are a defiant bunch of bullies. They say public school marching bands are not permitted to toot their horns to any religious tunes (and that goes for the oboe and piccolo, too).

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