A California school district has barred school choirs from performing inside church buildings.
Up until recently, the district’s choir program had performed in some churches because the acoustics of the buildings were deemed superior to other venues. The school district superintendent, however, barred the choirs from performing in such venues because of complaints she received along with concerns that it is unconstitutional for a school group to perform in a religious building.
As attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom have noted, this is an unnecessary policy change. The previous policy was religiously-neutral, concerned only with a venue’s acoustics; it had nothing to do with preferring a religious venue over a secular venue.
As ADF said in the letter it sent the school district,
“We understand that she [the district superintendent] based her decision on the concern that holding choir performances in a church would violate the ‘separation of church and state.’…Because of a handful of misguided complaints, and one official’s misunderstanding of First Amendment law, two hundred members of GUSD’s acclaimed choral program are now deprived of the best possible acoustical venues for their performances.”
A choir performance in Verizon Arena isn’t an endorsement of a mobile phone provider. Likewise, a choir performance in a church isn’t an endorsement of a particular religion. The choir is simply taking advantage of the best venues available. To issue a blanket restriction on performing in church buildings stigmatizes churches–and is completely unnecessary.