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ACLU of VA: Students can’t be forced to sing ‘Til We Meet Again at Jesus’ Feet’ at graduation

By Scott Kaufman
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 10:43 EDT
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diverse group of students celebrating graduation on shutterstock
 
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Thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union of Virgina, for the first time since 1941, graduating seniors at Thomas Walker High School will not be allowed to sing their traditional graduation song.

WCYB reported that the song, “‘Til We Meet Again at Jesus’ Feet,” has been removed from the graduation program.

“It’s been a tradition at Thomas Walker since the school started in 1940-41,” Superintendent Mark Carter told WCYB. “The actual song ‘Til We Meet Again at Jesus’ Feet’ has been sung, and there’s not been a concern or issue brought forth by anyone at the school or any member of the community.”

However, Carter received a letter from the ACLU of Virginia’s legal director, Rebecca Glenberg, about “disturbing…First Amendment violations.”

“It is my understanding,” the letter began, “that every year the school’s graduation director requires seniors to sing a Christian hymn, ‘Til We Meet Again at Jesus’ Feet, at graduation. They are taught the lyrics and practice them at school, and are expected to have the hymn memorized by graduation. This violates the First Amendment.”

“Because the song is explicitly Christian,” Glenberg continued, “it affiliates the school with a particular religion and excludes students and other members of the school community in attendance at graduation who do not subscribe to that religion.”

The ACLU of Virginia demanded that the “‘Til We Meet Again at Jesus’ Feet” be removed from the graduation ceremony — and that a plaque of the Ten Commandments hanging near the principal’s office also be removed. Superintendent Carter said that Thomas Walker High’s principal “removed the 10 Commandments and the song that was addressed in the letter has been stricken from the graduation program. They will no longer be required to learn that song, or to practice or sing it at graduation.”

["Group Of Diverse International Graduating Students Celebrating" on Shutterstock]

Scott Kaufman
Scott Kaufman
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
 
 
 
 
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