A third grade elementary student who was initially barred from singing one of her favorite Christian songs at a local talent show was able to perform the song last week after a letter was sent to school officials explaining the student's right to religious speech.
For the talent show at Mount Scott Elementary School in Portland, Ore., Kelli Bobst gave her rendition of "God's Love is for You" on Thursday after receiving aid from Liberty Counsel – a Christian legal group that promotes religious freedom.
"Student-initiated speech endorsing religion is fully protected by the Constitution," commented Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, in a statement. "It is unconstitutional to eliminate Christian viewpoints from a school talent show or any other time where secular viewpoints are permitted."
The problem began when the young girl auditioned for the school's talent show with "God's Love is for You." She was then told by her music teacher that she could not sing that song unless other religions were mentioned in it as well.
When the mother, Karen Bobst, heard this, she confirmed the statement with the music teacher, and found out that other children were also banned from singing Christian songs. In response, she contacted Liberty Counsel to see if the action was warranted.
The legal group then sent a letter to the principal of the school as well as the superintendent of the North Clackamas School District to explain students' rights to share their religious expression. The letter defended that students choosing their own material for a talent show could not have their material banned based on religious content, because it would violate the constitutional rights of those students.
"The free speech right of students is not that difficult to understand," added Staver. "Common sense and the Constitution both compel equal treatment of Christian viewpoints."
Bobst then went on to sing "God's Love is for You" at the school event with the school's permission. In addition, another student who had been turned away was able to sing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."