Mississippi Community Fights Back • #WarOnReligion
August 24th, 2015 • iizthatiiz
It got serious on July 10th for the Rankin County School District in Mississippi when a Federal Judge slapped them with a $7,500 fine and issued a court order.
“Defendants are permanently enjoined from including prayer, religious sermons or activities in any school sponsored event including but not limited to assemblies, graduations, award ceremonies, athletic events and any other school event. That means administrators, teachers and staff of the Rankin County School District may not participate in any religious activity, or solicit or encourage religious activities at school or while performing duties as a RCSD employee.” — U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves
The school district’s ordeal began in April of 2013 when Northwest Rankin High School was sued by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center on behalf of two students who claimed they were ‘prevented’ from leaving a school assembly where other students spoke on Christian themes. The district insisted that the assembly was voluntary, “Our students have the freedom to organize student-led and planned meetings and the assembly in question was student led and organized. The meetings were not mandatory.”
In November, 2013 the district settled the lawsuit by agreeing to issue new rules prohibiting religious events, reimbursing the plaintiff $15,000 in legal fees, and agreeing to further monitoring from the Federal court.
This however was not the end of the districts legal problems. The atheist group renewed it’s lawsuit in May, 2014 after a local Pastor gave an invocation at an awards ceremony for honor students. This led to Judge Carlton’s ruling on July 10th (as listed above), placing further restrictions on the district along with a warning that in the future, fines will be increased to $10k per violation.
Marching Band Benched
Judge Carlton’s increase of restrictions forced the school board to cancel last Friday’s football halftime show at nearby Brandon High School. The show which had been rehearsed over the summer was reportedly going to include the hymn “How Great Thou Art”. Unwilling to risk a further $10,000 fine, the district took the precaution of cancelling the entire season opening performance of Brandon’s marching band.
Word spread through the community of the impending cancellation.
Word about the band getting benched spread across the town quicker than kudzu.
Something must be done to right this wrong, people said. A message had to be sent to the likes of Judge Reeves. Locals gathered in coffee shops and garages to devise their plan.
And what they did — would become known as the musical shot heard around the world.
During halftime of Friday night’s game – a lone voice began to sing the forbidden song.
“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee” the singer sang.
Brittany Mann was there and she witnessed the entire moment of defiance.
“We were just sitting there and then one by one people started to stand,” she told me. “At first, it started out as a hum but the sound got louder and louder.”
She said it was a “truly incredible” moment to watch hundreds of people singing together in the stadium.
“At that moment I was so proud of my town – coming together and taking a stand for something we believe in,” she said. “It breaks my heart to see where our country is going — getting farther and farther away from the Christian beliefs that our country was founded on.” (Todd Starnes)
Hundreds rise at halftime to sing the banned hymn:
Parents and Students Protest
After Friday nights display of civil disobedience on the stands of the Brandon football field, parents, students, and community members aren’t done. They rallied Sunday afternoon outside Brandon City Hall.
They say that they intend to continue speaking out and protesting the court decision until their voices are heard.