Choir Told Not to Sing 'The Lord's Prayer' at Graduation

The Comstock Park High School choir performed “The Lord’s Prayer” six months ago at a benefit for the family of Nick Szymanski, a choir member and deeply religious student who was killed in an accident last October.

In honor of their classmate, the choir decided to sing it again during the school’s May 31 graduation.

But that plan changed Wednesday when choir director Keith VanGoor said school administrators would not allow them to sing the religious song during the graduation at Sunshine Community Church.

“We’re dealing with legal advice. Legal counsel said, `Don’t go there,”‘ explained Dwight Anderson, the superintendent of Comstock Park Public Schools. “I feel bad for the kids because they do a great job with it.”

The choir is feeling pretty bad, too, said member Hilary Shively, a junior. They want to sing the song once again in remembrance of Szymanski.

“It wasn’t meant to be preached religiously towards others, although some may have taken it that way,” Shively said.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that prayer at a graduation ceremony isn’t appropriate,” Anderson said. “I say the Lord’s Prayer every day. I have a strong faith and teach a Bible class at my church. But we are going to abide by the law.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues

8 comments on “Choir Told Not to Sing 'The Lord's Prayer' at Graduation

  1. Stefano says:

    There is no ‘law’ only the fear of a lawsuit. Go ahead and sing it. As to the fictional ‘wall of separation between Church and State’, Mr. Justice of the Supreme Court, “tear down this wall!”

  2. DeeBee says:

    I’m certainly no legal eagle, but it seems to me that, if the choir chose to present the song without the participation of the choir director, they could make the case that the singing of the Lord’s Prayer was student-led and student-initiated, and therefore protected under the First Amendment. I am, of course, willing to be corrected.

  3. Words Matter says:

    The sad part is that a major portion of standard vocal repertoire is Christian. Kids are being deprived of a significant educational experience. Think: Mozart’s Ave Verum, much of Tallis, Byrd, and Palestrina, Bach, and even Beethoven.

    Sad, Sad, Sad.

  4. RevOrganist says:

    To sing a prayer is wrong, but to hold a secular graduation in a Church is okay?

  5. azusa says:

    The chilling effect of ‘legal advice’. Sing it!
    Remember what US money declares.

  6. Tom Roberts says:

    Logically, following the school’s position, they ought not to be comemorating Szymanski at all. In a ruthlessly secular logic, he’s not a current student and therefore not of present interest whatsoever.

    I also found the contradiction between the absolute “The Supreme Court has ruled that prayer at a graduation ceremony isn’t appropriate” and the waffling “Court rulings on similar cases are inconsistent” rather humorous. The administration can’t quite seem to get the story straight.

  7. GrandpaDino says:

    The Lord’s prayer was sung by an opera singer at tonight’s Memorial Day concert featuring the National Symphony at the Capitol in Washington, DC.

  8. libraryjim says:

    I remember a few years ago, a valedictorian was told he could not invoke the name of God in his speech. So with a few of his classmates, he concocted a plan and word spread quickly.
    When he took the stage and stood at the podium, he pulled out a handkerchief and loudly sneezed into the microphone. With one voice, the entire graduating class roared out: