A New Jersey high school admits that it “inadvertently” censored Christmas songs that include the words God, Jesus, Santa, Christmas and Chanukah – in place of music that would not be “belief-specific.”
Colin Curran, a student at West Windsor – Plainsboro High School South, wrote about the incident in a Huffington Post blog titled, “Christmas, I mean Holiday, Music.”
Curran wrote that he was in charge of creating a playlist for a holiday breakfast hosted by the student council for young children. He said the student council adviser told him to avoid any holiday music that included the words God Jesus, Santa, Christmas or Chanukah.
Gerri Hutner, the director of communications for the West Windsor Plainsboro School District, confirmed the incident occurred – but said the adviser was mistaken.
“There is not a ban on religious music,” Hutner told Fox News & Commentary. “Religious music is a part of the concerts we have from elementary through high school. We do not restrict music within our programs.”
Hutner said the adviser incorrectly told Curran that the music could not have any religious overtones. She said the adviser had based that decision on information she had received from a former principal.
“We try to be very aware how we celebrate any type of event because we are a very diverse community,” Hutner said, noting that previous concerts have included songs like “Silent Night” and “Hallelujah Chorus.”
“I questioned the logic behind these restrictions and was informed that since we live in an area with many different cultures, our principal does not want to offend anyone with belief-specific music,” Curran wrote on his Huffington Post blog.
Curran detailed his search for holiday songs that might meet the school’s criteria – but only came up with a handful of selections. Among those making the cut – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Marshmallow World.”
“I understand that people have different beliefs, but is the mention of Santa in a song really going to change someone’s belief set?” he wrote.
David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, said school officials are acting “like the Grinch who stole Christmas.”
“There is absolutely no Constitutional crisis if the school allows Christmas songs to be played even if some of those songs are religious,” Cortman told Fox News & Commentary. “This time of year is Christmas – whether you want to acknowledge that or not.”
But many school districts are worried about lawsuits from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and their associates – groups Cortman accused of spreading fear.
“School officials shouldn’t have to worry about being sued merely for acknowledging a holiday that over 90 percent of Americans celebrate,” he said.
Hutner said the principal is meeting with the adviser in hopes of adjusting the holiday playlist in time for Saturday’s breakfast. The event also features pictures with Frosty the Snowman.