The Alliance Defense Fund is the latest to enter the controversy over a religious Christmas carol being used in an Alabama school's holiday program, sending a letter backing the school in inclusion of “Silent Night,” according to an ADF report issued Friday.
The ADF sent a letter to Tuscumbia City School Superintendent Joe Walters and Fred Williams, president of the school board, Wednesday. The letter stated the school does not need to remove the traditional song, as the Americans United for Separation for Church and State had complained previously to school officials.
“It’s ridiculous that people have to think twice about whether it’s okay to include ‘Silent Night’ in a Christmas program,” David Cortman, senior counsel for the ADF, stated in the report. “An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that it’s okay to celebrate Christmas in schools and in the public square, and they are right. There is nothing unconstitutional about inclusion of this song in the school’s program, and that is supported by how the courts have consistently ruled.”
According to the ADF report, AU sent a letter to Tuscumbia City Schools that said the use of “Silent Night” in G.W. Trenholm School’s holiday music program was unconstitutional.
Walters told The Christian Post that he did receive letters, first from the AU, and now from the ADF. Because the board had not yet issued a statement on the ADF letter, Walters declined to comment on the school’s reaction.
“[We] did in fact receive a letter,” Walters told CP regarding both letters. “We have not received any direct complaint. There’s also a state ruling that allows it.”
Walters said the Christmas music program is intended to raise money to hire a music teacher.
“The intent (of the holiday program) is to raise money for a school music program,” he said. “The state of Alabama has a funding problem … [we need] money to hire a part-time music teacher so the kids can have music.”
The ADF letter, written by Cortman and other ADF attorneys, supported inclusion of the song, citing the court cases Walters referred to. The letter said, “Here, ‘Silent Night’ is but one of the nine other songs included in the Christmas program at G.W. Trenholm. Thus, as long as the inclusion of ‘Silent Night’ or any other religious Christmas song is based upon a secular reason – i.e. recognition of the religious heritage of Christmas – then the Constitution does not prohibit the inclusion of the religious song in the school’s Christmas program.”
The letter also urged the district to “take a stand against the legally unsupported demands of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.”