NEW YORK (BP) -- A group of 5-, 6- and 7-year old children will be able to sing "Silent Night" in their Christmas program after Alabama school officials decided to ignore a complaint filed by a group that called the song "unconstitutional."
The news came as a relief to students and teachers at G.W. Trenholm Primary School in Tuscumbia, Ala., after they found themselves thrust into the war on Christmas.
"We've always sung Silent Night and we've never had a problem," Principal Janice Jackson told Fox News & Commentary. "We were just surprised, very surprised."
Jackson said she received a letter from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State asking them to drop the song from their annual Christmas pageant.
"As a Christian minister, I love the hymn 'Silent Night, Holy Night,' but it's not appropriate in this circumstance," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United in a statement to Fox News & Commentary. "This play takes place at a public elementary school and involves very young children."
Lynn noted that the song "celebrates the birth of Christ as the savior, and not all families believe that."
"Those who do are free to teach it at home or at church," Lynn said. "Public schools are not the proper places for religious indoctrination."
The play, called "The Reindeer Rebellion," is a secular production involving Santa's reindeer going on strike, Lynn said. He accused a teacher of choosing to "graft this Christian hymn onto the play."
"We were so surprised because we are such a small school and we're a small community. We can't believe we were singled out for this," Jackson said. "I thought it was a joke but the more I checked into it, I immediately called my superintendent."
David Cortman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, told Fox News & Commentary they plan on offering legal services to the school district free of charge in the event someone tries to file a lawsuit.
"Groups on the left such as Americans United have been trying to bully schools across the country all during this Christmas season, Cortman said. "When they tell schools it is unconstitutional to include a song such as Silent Night in their Christmas program, they are simply wrong not only as a matter of law but also as a matter of fairness."
He applauded the school system for standing up to Americans United instead of caving in to their demands.
"I think it's about time that not only Americans but schools specifically stand up to these Grinches who go on this Christmas attack every year yet deny there is any war on Christmas," Cortman said.
Jackson said the children in grades K-2 didn't understand the controversy.
"They just love to sing and they were even going to perform sign language with the song," she said.
The community outcry, though, has been tremendous.
"I think it's sad," parent Amy Johnson told television station WHNT in Huntsville. "I don't think this is the place to make your point politically or religiously. Christmas is about Jesus and that's what the song is about."
After consulting with their attorney, the school system decided to allow the students to perform the traditional Christmas carol.
"These children are just 5, 6 and 7 years old," Jackson said. "I guess we're living in that kind of a world."
She said she is relieved that the boys and girls will be able to sing and sign their song next week at the Christmas program. Had the song been cancelled, Jackson said she worried about how they would have told the children.
Todd Starnes is the host of Fox News & Commentary, heard daily on Fox News Radio stations around the nation. He is the author of "They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick" and the upcoming "Dispatches From Bitter America." This article first appeared at www.toddstarnes.com. Used by permission.
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