Published January 13, 2015
A Board of Education member says he doesn't understand why the ACLU is suing over the use of religious music in schools, which he considers to be a matter freedom of expression.
"I'm very disappointed that this outside organization has decided to come in and make an issue of this," David Dobos said Thursday after the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed the federal court suit.
He said the ACLU was acting in a "childish manner and trying to dictate their ideas and morals on our community, and I don't appreciate that."
If non-Christians are so "thin-skinned" and lacking confidence in their religious beliefs "that they get all that bent out of shape about it, then they've got a lot more problems than what [music] is being performed in our schools," Dobos said.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of three families who are challenging Columbus school district's practice of having student choral groups perform Christian music.
The suit said the practice is "effectively endorsing, promoting and sponsoring religion over non-religion and the Christian faith over other faiths, all in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment."
The suit demands an official board policy that would instruct teachers to respect the separation of church and state when selecting music for choral concerts as well as occasions such as graduations.
"When we bring our evidence to the court, what you'll see is that it's more than two or three songs," said Raymond Vasvari, ACLU legal director.
"In many cases, in dozens of choral performances, it's more than half the songs. Sometimes it's almost all the songs."
Last July, the Columbus Jewish Federation wrote a letter to the board about two Columbus high-school graduations that had included Christian songs.
A school board committee discussed but rejected in December a proposed policy, drafted by its legal counsel, that said religious music would not be selected and performed for the purpose of "focusing on any one religion or religious observance" and that "religious music shall not be performed at graduation ceremonies."