Removal of hymn from band's halftime show sets off controversy

Published: Jul. 23, 2016 at 12:03 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2016 at 1:15 AM CDT
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HOLTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - The song goes "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound," but students and parents at Holtville High School say that sound is being silenced by school officials.

After adding Amazing Grace to their set list for their football halftime show and spending two days practicing, marching band students were told the Christian hymn was being cut.

"The board talked with their attorneys and thought that it wasn't legal or ethical enough to play Amazing Grace at the halftime show," said sophomore band Catie Daniel.

Elmore County Superintendent Andre Harrison says he made the decision after receiving a complaint from a parent and consulting lawyers.

But parents against the decision are making sure their voices are heard.

"I just wish our lawmakers and the people who make these quick decisions to pull something like Amazing Grace out of a band lineup would consider the other 99. Instead of just catering to the one, what about the 99 who has no problem with it," said Steve Davis, whose daughter is in the band.

In a post on Facebook, Harrison acknowledged the growing concern.

"While I firmly believe the original decision is both legally and ethically appropriate, we are working closely with legal counsel to determine if there are other options available to us that will permit performance of Amazing Grace," Harrison wrote.

The Foundation of Moral Law weighed in on the matter on Facebook as well. President Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, wrote: "Singling out religious music for censorship is not religious neutrality, it is religious hostility. Neither our Constitution nor our cultural history requires this."

More than 1,000 people have joined a Facebook group in support of the band being allowed to play the song.

The organizers says if Amazing Grace is not performed at the first halftime show of the year, they'll sing it themselves.

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