Liberty Alert

December 14, 1005

School Dumps "Cold in the Night"
and Returns to "Silent Night"

Dodgeville, WI - Ridgeway Elementary School has now dumped "Cold in the Night" from its "winter program." After receiving an avalanche of phone calls and emails, late yesterday afternoon, Debra Messer, the District Administrator, confirmed that "Silent Night will be sung. Cold in the Night will not be sung." Liberty Counsel sent two letters to school officials on behalf of concerned parents demanding that the school drop "Cold in the Night" and include "Silent Night" in its original version.

The school's "winter program" has included decorating classrooms with Santa Claus, Kwanza, Menorahs, and La Befana (a Christmas witch). During this program elementary students were going to sing "Cold in the Night." Sung to the tune of "Silent Night," the lyrics of "Cold in the Night" were entirely secular.

Courts have ruled that public schools may include religious songs as part of a teaching or performance program. The Supreme Court once noted: "Music without sacred music, architecture minus the Cathedral, or painting without the Scriptural themes would be eccentric and incomplete, even from a secular view." Religious songs along with other secular holiday songs are permissible. The Dodgeville School District has now stated that the program at Ridgeway will include traditional Christmas carols.

Liberty Counsel's Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign seeks to educate about the law regarding the celebration of Christmas. If education does not resolve the matter, Liberty Counsel litigates. Last week Liberty Counsel filed suit against two Florida towns after they denied the private display of a nativity scene on public property. Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach settled the case prior to the emergency hearing. The nativity scene went up December 12 and will remain through December 31.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, commented: "We are pleased that the children at Ridgeway Elementary School will not be singing 'Cold in the Night.' This secularized rendition mocks one of the world's best-known Christmas songs. Christmas is a state and federal holiday. We don't change the names of any other federal holiday, nor do we change the words to songs commemorating these holidays. It is absurd to have children sing 'Cold in the Night' in place of 'Silent Night.'"

Dr. Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Chancellor of Liberty University, has endorsed Liberty Counsel's Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign and is urging churches to run the Friend or Foe ads in their local newspapers. The ad and the Friend or Foe legal memo can be downloaded free at Churches may call 434-582-2432 to have the National Liberty Journal's graphics department place the church's name on the ad free of charge.

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Liberty Counsel, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. On the campus of Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty Counsel's Center for Constitutional Litigation and Policy trains attorneys, law students, policymakers, legislators, clergy and world leaders in constitutional principles and government policies.

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