A Massachusetts elementary school that made plans to change the words of "God Bless the USA" to "we love the USA" for a school presentation has decided to revert back to the original lyrics following public outcry.
The confrontation began when someone from the school changed the words of the song, which is to be sung by fourth grade students at an assembly next week. The assembly is designed to show off what the students learned during their study of the 50 U.S. states, but some people saw the change of lyrics as less than patriotic.
On Wednesday, the superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools, Edward Fleury, released a statement on the district's website saying that it was never the district's intention to disrespect anyone, and that "students will be allowed to sing or not sing the words 'God Bless the USA' as they sing in celebration of their acquired knowledge."
"Political correctness is certainly a consideration in the public sector. There are traditional parts of our culture that are sacred, and we certainly had no intent to disrespect any part of that culture," said Fleury.
"We believe the use of the word God is acceptable in patriotic songs. The district has no intent to censor any patriotic songs. We are certainly sorry if this approach was perhaps considered as disrespectful. That was never the intent."
Lee Greenwood, the man who wrote the song, expressed his distaste for the school district's changes to his lyrics in a post on his website. He can forgive the school for being ignorant of copyright laws, he says, but made it clear that he doesn't like the word "God" being censored.
"A song is like a painting, when it is finished, it cannot be changed. I feel this attempt to remove the word God however, was meant to shield students from even hearing or repeating the word God," Greenwood said on the website.
"I have no trouble with loving the United States of America with any phrase such as 'we love the usa', it's just that in my song, God represents strength in faith, goodness, hope & unity. I would hope that we haven't lost the ability to speak aloud about the God we pray to for our continued existence as a free nation."
Pastor Richard Mosher, Sr. of Bellingham Bible Baptist Church told The Christian Post on Friday that he wasn't surprised that the public school tried to remove "God" from the lyrics, but doesn't think it was right to do so. In today's American culture, he says, it seems that something that might only offend one person has to be avoided by everyone.
"They're just trying to eliminate anything with any religious overtones ... They seem to be prioritizing anything other than Christianity," said Mosher about today's society.
Father David Mullen of nearby Saint Brendan Parish called the school's former plan to change the song's lyrics "ridiculous," and says people today are in denial about the Christian roots of America.
"All these people who ... supposedly are interested in liberty (although I don't think they are), they are attacking the very root of where our revolution came from and the principles for which our nation has stood for, ... fundamentally religious principles," Mullen told CP.
Mullen says some people have overreacted to the situation by sending hate mail to the school. He also heard that a death threat had been made against the school's principal, Diana Beck.
"Someone who's supposed to be a God-fearing person would not do that," he said.
Mullen also claims that the school went into lockdown on Thursday and the police had to come because of the death threat. The Christian Post attempted to contact both the school and the district to confirm that the lockdown occurred, but administrators were out of the office on Good Friday.