A Virginia school district is facing a mountain of criticism after a grade school music teacher edited references to God in an upcoming performance of the song “We Are The World” so that non-Christians would not be offended.
The song was one of nearly a dozen that fourth and fifth graders at Broadus Wood Elementary School in Charlottesville were scheduled to sing next week at their spring concert. Several parents noticed that the lyrics to “We Are The World” had been changed to remove two references to God.
“The sentiment has been this is ridiculous and we need to stop it,” said Charlottesville radio host Rob Schilling, who first reported the story. “It’s time for the secular social exorcism to stop. America was a country built on God and we shouldn’t be afraid to speak or sing His name.”
A spokesman for Albemarle County Public Schools confirmed to Fox News that the music teacher “proposed a change in the lyrics.”
“The song had a reference to God,” spokesman Phil Giaramita said. “The teacher told the kids ‘you can either say God or if you feel more comfortable, you can say community.’”
However, the word God was omitted from lyric sheets sent home to parents, Schilling said.
The controversial verse of “We Are The World” originally read, “We are all a part of God’s great big family.”
However, the school’s version read: “We are all a part of one great big family.”
The teacher also removed a line in the song that said, “As God has shown us by turning stones to bread.” Instead, she included a line from the re-written Haiti version of the song that read, “We can’t let them suffer; no we cannot turn away.”
“For a teacher to think that it would be offensive to use the word God in a song – it’s a very innocuous reference,” Schilling said. “I think it shows how far we’ve gone in the wrong direction.”
Earlier this month a Massachusetts grade school came under fire for removing a reference to God in the Lee Greenwood classic, “God Bless the USA.” The school later reversed its decision after it came under intense national criticism.
Schilling told Fox News he’s not surprised that the school would remove references to God from a song. He said another teacher in the same district put up a picture of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in her classroom with the words ‘Air Space’ over the top.
“This is one reason why I home school my own kids,” he said. “We’ve lost our compass – our way in this country. There was a time in America that the Bible was the primary textbook across the country.
Giaramita stressed that the school district does not have a policy banning references to God. He said the decision was made at the local school level.
He said school officials will be meeting later today to discuss the incident and suggested there could be some decision made as to the song’s status.