This past week a high school marching band was told to sit out halftime instead of doing their show because the show included the song "How Great Thou Art", which is a classic Christian hymn. As with any story like this, there is more to the story. In a nutshell, this school in Mississippi had someone sue them over not having religion in school because they were praying at events and such. The school lost and has already violated the order once. The Washington Post has the order as stating this, "Defendants are permanently enjoined from including prayer, religious sermons or activities in any school sponsored event including but not limited to assemblies, graduations, award ceremonies, athletic events and any other school event. That means administrators, teachers and staff of the Rankin County School District may not participate in any religious activity, or solicit or encourage religious activities at school or while performing duties as a RCSD employee." The judge did not say specifically they couldn't play this song, but I can see where the district would assume it was off limits.
Friday night, while the band sat silent, people in the stands sang the song, and the Christians in the country went wild. It was a fun moment of mild civil disobedience. The story and video have been shared across the country. That is the part that makes it ironic to me.
A band director I know, who I won't name, sneaks a classic hymn into almost every one of his band's concerts. He doesn't make a big deal about it. It is usually in the middle of a innocently name medly, and I'd be surprised if more than a handful of people noticed. Why? Because when a high school band plays, it is just notes. No words, no witness, no gospel, just notes.
If this band had taken the field last Friday night and played as planned, a few in the crowd would have smiled, some may have sung to themselves, and many others would have taken the moment to run to the bathroom and stop at the concession stand never noticing that a hymn was being played. Now, because someone insisted that this kind of thing can not be done, people who would have never heard of the Rankin County school's rendition of "How Great Thou Art" have not only heard the notes, but have heard the words, which is actually what makes it a Christian song. By opposing it, they have actually spread the message of this song better than the marching band would have even if they had won a national band competition. Excellent work Angry Atheist!
In the theme of words making the song, did you know that you can sing the words of "Amazing Grace" to the tune of the theme song of "Gilligan's Island"? And that the notes part of the National Anthem was first written by a British guy for men's social club? In spite of that, I have never once heard "The Star Spangled Banner" and been overcome with the desire to play cricket.