Christmas Victory for Wis. High School Choir

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A Wisconsin high school choir will be able to continue with a Christmas tradition.

Earlier this month, a Wausau School District informed its music teachers that singing about Santa would be acceptable, but singing about Jesus was prohibited.

Director Phil Buch said he was told by Superintendent Kathleen Williams to reduce the number of religiously related songs during the groups holiday performances.

"My responsibility has been to always perform a balanced repertoire," Buch said.

Williams gave him three options: Either include five secular, non-religious songs for every faith-based carol, hold a concert without any Christmas music, or postpone all December concerts.

"This is all part of the Establishment Clause, nothing has to trigger it really," Williams said. "This is what music in public schools or any teaching in public schools needs to follow."

Williams said that backing away from religious music would protect the district from future lawsuits. The school's choir was temporarily disbanded until school board members could decide the matter.

Parents were furious, and attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the Wausua School District.

"Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow students to sing Christmas carols in a holiday production," the letter said. "Courts have unanimously upheld their inclusion -- even when songs deal with Christian themes that are naturally a part of the holiday."

School board members voted unanimously to hold off on making any immediate decisions about the choir group. They decided instead to begin a performance review of Superintendent Williams.

"I think there's an understanding that sacred music does have a definite place in our choral ranks," Buch said.

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