Chula Vista, California — An elementary school in California has reversed its decision to prohibit a kindergartner from singing a Christian song at the school’s talent show, reports state.
Six-year-old Austin Stroberg attends Salt Creek Elementary School in Chula Vista. He also sings and plays the guitar. However, when he tried out for the school’s upcoming talent show by singing the song “Our God is Mercy” by Brenton Brown, he was told that unless he chose a secular song, he could not participate.
“Our God is mercy/If your heart is heavy/If your soul is thirsty/There is a refuge/A home for the lonely/Our God is near,” the song states.
“The judges really liked him and are agreeing to have him in the show so long as it’s a non-religious song,” read an email to the parents from the school. “Star-Spangled Banner or any other song that is non-religious.”
But Austin’s mother, Amanda, says that her son was devastated at the news as he had hoped to sing the song.
“We wanted to know what his rights are as a student,” Amanda Stroberg told local television station 10 News.
Therefore, Stroberg contacted the Christian legal organization Pacific Justice Institute for help, and as a result, PJI Senior Counsel Michael Peffer sent a letter to the school requesting that it reconsider its decision.
“Because such censorship on the basis of a student’s religious beliefs is a violation of his constitutional rights, we write to request that you immediately allow [the student] to perform his song at the upcoming talent show,” he wrote. “The fact that the school allows students to sing Jewish songs and Kwanza songs during holiday celebrations, but refuses to allow this Christian song during the talent show may be a violation of equal protection under the law.”
President Brad Dacus also commented on the matter, stating that the school’s stifling of religion equated to the indirect endorsement of humanistic, secular philosophies.
“This issue exemplifies the ongoing fear from school administrators to allow anything even remotely connected to Christianity in the school,” he said. “In their attempt to avoid the wrath of anti-religionists, misguided school officials end up inadvertently embracing secularism as the school’s official religion.”
However, now the school has changed its mind about the matter and is agreeing to allow the kindergartner to sing the song.
“We are sensitive to religious issues,” district spokesperson Anthony Millican told reporter Todd Starnes.
“We’re not the ones endorsing it or sanctioning it,” he noted. “It’s the child’s choice.”
Millican said that a letter would be sent to the Stroberg’s to officially advise the family of the reversal.
Austin told reporters that he is “really excited” now that he has been added to the list of performers at the upcoming talent show, which will be held on May 23rd.
Photo: ABC 10 News