(15) Mon 12 Jun 95 23:18 By: Robin Murray-o'hair To: All Re: Religion Songs/H.S. Gradu St:

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(15) Mon 12 Jun 95 23:18 By: Robin Murray-o'hair To: All Re: Religion Songs/H.S. Gradu St: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ @EID:0ce2 1eccba40 @MSGID: 1:382/1006.0 882C4C38 @TID: WILDMAIL!/WC v4.11 94-0279 RELIGIOUS LYRICS DIVIDE SALT LAKE CITY SCHOOL Chaos Erupts After Students Insist on Religious Carols During Graduation Ceremony. Others Are Insulted. by Conrad F. Goeringer Last Wednesday's (June 7) graduation ceremony for West High in Salt Lake City was disrupted when a faction of students insisted on singing religious carols despite a federal court order. On June 1, a West High student, sophomore Rachel Bauchman sued the school district, objecting to songs which were part of the a cappella choir's program, such as "Friends" and "The Lord Bless You and Keep You," due to their religious overtones. A federal judge initially refused to ban the songs, but then the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling and ordered the choir not to sing the numbers. Last Wednesday night, however, numerous students followed the lead of William Badger, a student who is not in the a cappella choir, who moved to the podium during graduation ceremonies and urged the audience to sing one of the court-banned pieces. Allegedly, copies of the lyrics to the songs had been distributed throughout the audience. Badger insisted that the piece known as "Friends" was a West High commencement tradition "for more than half a decade." The incidents highlights the growing conflict over the role of religion in public schools. The Deseret News, in an opinion column last Friday, declared that "Banning student prayers at graduation rites was bad enough, but to outlaw the words God and Lord as they occur in choral music sets a disturbing precedent that is tantamount to erasing even the smallest hint of religion of any kind and drastically shrinking the world of music in the process." Will Badger has hired attorney Jim McConkie to represent him, fearing possible legal repercussions over his actions. He told a press conference last Saturday that "I stand by what I said and did that (graduation ceremony) night because it is something I believe strongly in." He added that "Our country was intended to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion." McConkie said that his client's actions were a form of free speech and not religious intolerance. Meanwhile, Rachel Bauchman has become a heroine for state/church separationists in Utah and a target of vilification for others. The Salt Lake City Tribune says that conspiracy theories about the Bauchman family are spreading, including one which claims that the family pulled "similar stunts" in Texas and New York where they once lived. "Some believe the Bauchmans are part of some well-funded Jewish conspiracy," noted the Tribune. And what about William Badger, the boy who encouraged the audience and fellow students to sing out? He said that "We should honor the traditions of both Judaism and Christianity, indeed all religions and broaden our minds." Critics, however, maintain that the recitation or singing of any religious verses has no place in a public school. Some used the term "mob" in describing the actions of those who did sing and lamented that the West High graduation ceremony became a platform for political controversy. Others pointed out that the incident overshadowed a remarkable academic record for the graduation class; half of the students had scored in the 90th percentile on their SAT's (Scholastic Aptitude Tests) and the school had won 40 percent of the first-place awards in local athletic contests. The West High incident, though, is another chapter in a long history of problems involving schools -- and indeed many other government institutions in Utah -- where problems of state/church separation have arose. And it suggests that religious belief, rather than unifying a community, often drives people apart. ****************** IT'S MORE THAN A TRADITION . . . The Words In the Controversial Song "Friends" Are Not Only Religious -- They've Religion-Specific. by Conrad F. Goeringer Words in a song which prompted last Wednesday's ruckus in a Salt Lake City high school graduation ceremony were called a "tradition" by one student organizer. But the song "Friends" is loaded with religious terms, some of which -- like "Lord" and "Father" -- suggest a distinctly Christian religion. We doubt that anything else would be permitted in Utah, a state which is the home base for the Church of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons, and which has seen more than its fair share of state/church litigation in recent years. So, you decide for yourself. THEISTWATCH picked up the lyrics from Sunday's (June 11) edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. "Friends" was written by Michael W. Smith and Deborah Smith. Copyright 1982, Reunion and Geffen Records: "Packing up the dreams God planted In the fertile soil of you Can't believe the hope He's granted Means a chapter in your life is through. But we'll keep you close as always. It won't even seem you've gone 'Cause our hearts in big and small ways Will keep the love that keeps us strong. (Chorus) And friends are friends forever If the Lord's the Lord of them And a friend will not say "never" 'Cause the welcome will not end Though it's hard to let you go In the Father's hands we know That a lifetime's not too long To live as friends. With the faith and love God's given Springing from the hope we know We will pray the joy you'll live in Is the strength that now you show. But we'll keep you close as always It won't even seem you've gone 'Cause our hearts in big and small ways Will keep the love that keeps us strong. --30-- --- * OLXWin 1.00 * Dial-THE-Atheist at (512) 458-5731 --- WILDMAIL!/WC v4.11 * Origin: American Atheists Online (512) 302-0223 (1:382/1006.0) SEEN-BY: 102/2 850 851 890 943 270/101 280/1 31 333 396/1 3615/50 @PATH: 382/1006 29 91 92 3615/50 396/1 280/1 102/2 851

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