Parents in St. Augustine, Florida, have filed a lawsuit against Webster Elementary School. The parents are upset about a recent incident in which their third grade children were made to sing a religious themed song. The song was part of the school’s end of the year program.
The children began singing the song, “In God We Still Trust” by country group Diamond Rio a month prior to the lawsuit being filed. The group of parents believe that the song interferes with the parent’s rights to raise children according to their own beliefs.
When one parent complained about the song, St. John’s County School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner pulled the song from the program. Hours before the filing of the lawsuit, the entire program was cancelled. Parents filing the suit claim that they are still entitled to damages due to the fact that their children were forced to learn the religious song. They claim that the school should not have provided the children with the song, because they feel the district should bar any religious instruction during school time, which they claim the song represents.
Some of the song’s lyrics appear in the image above: (copyright Diamond Rio):
The lawsuit claims that the song’s message is that God is part of American history and therefore individuals should fight attempts that try to secularize society.
The attorney for the school board states that singing a song that is like this is different than praying in school. In the past, schools have been allowed to sing religious songs. He claims that just singing a song does not mean that the school is endorsing the religion.