Parents Sue School For Banning "God Song." - AP

John blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Fri May 27 18:05:39 MDT 2005

Parents Sue School for Banning 'God' Song
By JEFFREY GOLD, Associated Press WriterSat May 21, 6:58 AM ET

A public school prohibited a second grader from singing a
religious song at a talent show, prompting a lawsuit Friday
alleging violation of the girl's constitutional rights.

A federal judge declined an emergency request to compel Frenchtown
Elementary School to allow 8-year-old Olivia Turton to sing
"Awesome God" at the Friday night show, but allowed the lawsuit to
go forward.

School officials in the western New Jersey community had said the
performance would be inappropriate at a school event. A message
seeking comment from a school board attorney about the judge's
ruling was not immediately returned.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Trenton
to consider the case later came just hours before Olivia had hoped
to sing the pop song by the late Rich Mullins.

One verse has these lyrics: "Our God is an awesome God/He reigns
from heaven above/with wisdom, pow'r and love/Our God is an
awesome God."

The girl was told May 10 that she could not sing the song. Her
mother, Maryann Turton, protested at a school board meeting that
night. She was told three days later by Joyce Brennan, the school
superintendent and principal, that the religious content made it
inappropriate at school, according to the lawsuit filed by the
child's parents Friday morning.

The lawsuit charges that the school board violated Olivia's
constitutional rights to freedom of speech and due process.

The lawsuit, supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian
legal advocacy group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., argues that the
constitutional separation of church and state does not restrict an
individual's religious speech.

The girl's lawyer, Demetrios K. Stratis, questioned how the
Frenchtown school could reject Olivia's choice but allow another
act based on the opening scene of "MacBeth."

"They've got a scene about boiling animals and witchcraft, but
they won't allow a song about God," Stratis said.

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