Gospel Choir Receives Right to Sing

Nov 27, 2002 01:44 PM EST

SANFORD, Fl - A Florida high-school gospel choir regains the right to sing at religious events. The choir, which was banned from singing at any churches after last year' terrorist attacks, have received new guidelines that allows the members to sing at religious events.

In September, the superintendent of the Sanford Independent School District prohibited the Seminole High School gospel choir from singing at a memorial service for victims of the terrorist attacks a year earlier. The service was conducted at Central Baptist Church in Sanford.

Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver says there were some school officials who wanted to silence the choir. "The initial problem was the superintendent and the school board attorney had desired to eliminate the gospel choir -- and there had been attempts put in motion to begin to dismantle the choir," Staver says. "What happened on the 9/11 [memorial] event was just a symptom of an underlying problem that was going on within the administrative staff."

The district's decision thrust the choir and the district itself into the national spotlight.

The outcry of concerned Christians led the Seminole County School Board to issue the new guidelines. Staver sees this situation as a call for awareness. "I think this situation really underscores the need for people in the community to be aware of what's happening in their local school board and other governmental systems," Staver says.

"We can lose our liberties just because we don't know what's happening -- they can be subtly undermined," he says. "This was one of those events, but fortunately there's a good result."

These new guidelines allow the choir to sing at churches and other events, provided students have the choice to opt out of attendance. So far, no student chose that option. The choir, which has been at the high school for 12 years, received more than 150 wards.

By Pauline J.