Can High Schools Use Christian Symbols?
Alabama has become a battleground over religion in high schools. Several high schools have Christian songs or performances that have led to some protests from atheists and religious freedom organizations.
The biggest battle is at Leeds High School. During halftime shows Christian hymns are played and cheerleaders sit in pews with Christian crosses inscribed into them. The Freedom From Religious Foundation has filed a complaint. The FFRF use legal briefing to battle the overt use of religious acts in the public space.
— AL.com (@aldotcom) October 3, 2017
The FFRF explained they had been contacted by a parent at the school who disagreed with the Christian themes during the halftime show. The FFRF commented that the connection to church service is so obvious that it should be easy to understand the discomfort someone might feel about the performance. They have also stated that non-Christians were encouraged to leave the Leeds High School band if they did not agree with the performance.
This is not the only location in Alabama. In Deatsville, the Holtville High School marching band was asked to stop using the song “Amazing Grace” because it is a Christian hymn. While the school initially agreed to change the song, there was just an outpouring of negative reaction that the school quickly reserved their decision and returned to using the song. In Lee County, there has also been criticism of the use of prayer during the start of football games.
Alabama is over 60% Christian and Roy Moore, an Evangelical Christian with extreme views, has just been elected in Alabama’s senatorial race. The importance of religion in Alabama creates more instances of Christianity being used publicity and makes it a good space to target for atheist and religious freedom groups. Given the range of outcomes, it is unclear whether a trend can be seen in how these debates will be resolved.