LAUSD School Says Song Has ‘Too Much Jesus’

District balks, will allow Christian-themed song

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A fifth-grader will be allowed to perform to a Christian-themed song at his school talent show after a lawsuit accused the Los Angeles Unified School District of violating his free-speech rights, it was announced Wednesday.

The nation’s second-largest school district, the PTA and the student’s lawyers reached an agreement permitting the 10-year-old to appear in Friday night’s talent show at Superior Street Elementary School, Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement.

The district is “very pleased” that the situation was resolved, Cortines said.

The boy, a San Fernando Valley resident who is identified in court documents only as “B.H.,” planned to perform “interpretive movement” to the song “We Shine,” according to a lawsuit filed last week.

The song proclaims that “Jesus is alive and he’s coming again” and has the chorus: “We are the redeemed, we are the ones who are free, and we belong to Jesus.”

The boy auditioned for the talent show last month and a few days later, the school principal told his mother, Adriana Hickman, that the song was offensive and violated the separation of church and state, the suit contended.

The mother was asked, “Can he pick a song that doesn’t say Jesus so many times,”‘ said David Cortman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-based legal organization that represents the mother.

The mother noted that the talent show had not listed any restrictions on the content of performances and was offended when she was told that several other students were told to change their songs because they contained profanity, Cortman said.

“The mother was troubled that (the principal) had just compared Christian speech to vulgarity,” he said.

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court accused the school district, school board, superintendent and the school principal of violating the boy’s constitutional rights of free speech and exercise of religion.

“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates,” the suit argued.

Cortman argued that the boy’s use of the song on school property does not violate the constitutional separation of church and state because it was the youngster’s personal choice and the school did not select it.

The suit, which is pending, contends that the district created a policy for the talent show that bars performances with a religious message. It asks a judge to strike down the policy.

On Tuesday, the boy’s lawyers also sought a court injunction to permit the student to perform but withdrew it the same day after learning that the district had agreed to let the show go on, Cortman said.

District spokeswoman Monica Carazo said the district determined that the boy’s performance won’t violate church-and-state-separation rules because the talent show was not a required school event.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • CA562DUDE

    I hope the school Wins!!! Its not fair to other poeple to here that of Music if your a NON-BELIVER like me… I hate when they knock on my door trying to convert me as well…. I belive what I wanna belive….

    • Ashley Yeager

      Really? Do you enjoy your rights to believe and express the beliefs you choose? Are your religious beliefs muzzled? Have you been banned from discussing them in public? At school?

      No, indeed.

      If that were the case, sir, I doubt you’d be cheering on such a flawed and discriminatory policy.


      The school will not win. If a kid wants to sing about Jesus he can. If this would have been a song about Satan or anything else it would be OK with the school. Don’t live in a box and try to keep others in your small world. No one is trying to convert you, they just want to dance to a great song. The government needs to STOP lording over everyone.

      • Jesus Christ

        Thank you!

    • Kim

      Yo Dude, you should have paid closer attention in school-BELIEVE is spelled BELIEVE. Now get back on your surfboard…oh yeah, and it’s PEOPLE not POEPLE

      • Darren Elbert


      • Joe

        yea pendejo

      • CA562DUDE

        Hey KIM – BITE ME!!!! and I dont SURF… I am not WHITE

      • Patrick Ryan

        He can not help it he is a LA Unified Graduate., Or rode the short bus at any other district.

    • notlovinLA

      CA56DUDE, you are SO incredibly racist! And apparently a complete idiot.
      P.S. Jesus loves you!

      • Jesus Christ

        And I will forgive you but you should start to believe in me

    • Susie Lichty

      I agree. I’m a strong supporter of the separation between church and state. Keep religion out of public school. If this story was about a non-Christian song that referred to another spiritual belief, there would be very little public support for the child. Can you imaging if a child wanted to sing a song about praising the Devil?

      Look, I’m all for everyone believing what they want to believe, but leave it out of taxpayer supported venues. Sing another uplifting, non-religious song.

      • Thick Skin

        How can you compare the Devil to Jesus??!!! The United States of America in which YOU live was founded on Christian beliefs! Do you spend our currency which states in GOD WE TRUST… I’m sure children in the school are caring it around with them. Also, I have children in this school & before the talent show we stood & said the Pledge of Allegiance…. ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!! This poor boy just wanted to dance to a harmless song (We Shine), leave him be for Christ’s sake!!! FYI, The child received the most applauses that night then anyone else!!! The majority of our country still believes in GOD, but are to polite and respectful to step on others toes!!!

        By the way when my child was in kinder at this school, she had a Jewish teacher & came home with a card that she made & put it under our Christmas tree on Christmas when we opened the card it said “Happy Hanukkah” (we believe in God & celebrate Christmas) & we just laughed it off… If the shoe was on the other foot it would have been a big issue!!! I say Merry CHRISTmas & if it offends you, then get some thicker skin!! If you say to me Happy Hanukkah, I’m not offended.

        Would you put your hand on the bible in the court of law & swear under oath as did our President “SO HELP ME GOD”?? Whether anyone likes it or not, this country still is full of Christianity! In School or not!! I’m so greatful that someone is standing up for their rights!

    • ScipioRising

      Not too well educated either.

    • Sylvia J.

      Thats your 1st Admendment right not every onelses!!!!!

  • bdj

    Religious songs of any kind have a proper place, but not in public schools.

    • notlovinLA

      A song is a song is a song is a song. It’s not a sermon, bdj. I suppose you think it’s acceptable to hear ICP or NWA songs in public schools?

      • bdj

        Please explain what an ICP or NWA song is?

    • Sylvia J.

      But the Bible is good enough for Court? You swear in on a Bible in Court so why can’t the songs be used or sung?????

  • Anon

    Ah freedom of speech. Where art thou? This is a talent show and the message is coming from the student, not the school. You’d think it being a “talent” show would make that quite clear. Therefore, it has zip to do with “separation of church and state.” Sounds like the principal needs to go back to school and learn what that actually means.

    • david

      Perhaps it is you who needs to go back to school. The Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech is not unfettered in Public Schools. Schools are unique venues and, as such, allow for certain restrictions of children’s freedoms.

      For example, a child may not curse in a classroom. Is his freedom abridged? Yes. Is this restriction unconstitutional? Of course not.

      I’m not arguing the merits of this case. The school may be in the wrong. I’m just tired of people quoting the Constitution without any understanding of its nuances.

      • Jason Robards

        Actually the curse thing is a spot where freedom of speech can be abridged school or not and has nothing to do with abridgment.
        The courts have also made it clear that the separation is on the school not individual students
        Third the separation refers to not promoting one religion not denying all religion. If the school had allowed him to sing and forbidden a kid to sing a Jewish or Muslim song then yeah their is a case but here they are clearly overprotective .

        By the way lest one accuse me of being a bible thumper I am as liberal as they come but I know the rules

    • notlovinLA

      The entire country, particularly this principal, needs to go back and read that part about separation of STATE from CHURCH and get educated. It wasn’t written to keep church out of state, folks. It was written to keep the state out of religion and the right to practice as people wanted. So, actually, this principal has violated this boy’s rights.

  • Ken

    How about MORE ABORTION, GANG, SEX, DRUG USE? Would that be more ACCEPTABLE?

    • david

      Oh, Ken, grow up. If we oppose being sanctimoniously regaled with Christian propaganda, we’re pro gang?

      You can’t be serious.

      • Yep

        Such a good liberal.

    • bdj


      Stay on topic. Your response does not address anything in the news article.



    • herzco

      Shawn: Perhaps your comment would be taken more seriously if you did not write in ALL CAPS and did not have A total of four spelling and grammatical errors – in two sentences.

      • shawn

        wow herzco thats all you got? im hurt maybe i should be able to sue because i dont like your stupid comment…

      • Yep

        liberals try to prove their futility by being online spell checkers. Friggin idiots.

    • Burt

      Well, actually there were other students who were told that they couldn’t use their songs because of profanity. Let’s be fair. That was in the article.

  • Marcus Jones

    School should win. If they want to sing about Jesus, sing it in Church or a religious event

    • Ashley Yeager

      LOL, Silly Marcus & co. If it’s only proper to discuss religion in church, then where, oh where can you talk about Atheism?

  • Mike

    Does this principal wear jack boots and peaked hat? Lets just erase the constitution and the bill of rights, they probably don’t teach them at that place anyway.

  • Fred9952

    We always talk about tolerance and understanding others. But that does not seem to apply to anything that is associated with Jesus or Christianity. I say let the boy do the performance and let the judges and audience decide if he merits a nod.

    • allofyoustopwhining

      agreed. the kid isnt doing an altar call, reading from scripture, or asking them to convert. heck, hes not even asking them to sing. stop being whiners and let the kid do his song. toleration, anyone?

      • notlovinLA

        Double agree. When did it become okay to remove the rights of Christians to please non-believers? Those who don’t want to hear the song can simply walk out. Problem solved.

  • Albert

    There is the freedom of speech. There is a clause in the law regarding “there shall be no established church by the state.” This means that singing a song is not establing a religion. That is case law and not establishing a state religion but free exercise of speech.

  • Marcus

    What’s a Jesus?

  • Heather

    I myself am not Christian and would rather not have to listen to a song about Jesus it but this isn’t about the school, it’s about the student. It’s freedom of speech the school is taking from this student. If the school assigned the song it would be a different story but students have a right to their own opinions, they don’t leave them at the door when they go to school.

    • herzco

      What if the student’s opinion was offensive to you somehow? What if, for example, he or she felt that the Holocaust didn’t happen?

  • kirb

    why do I think, that if this was a muslim child singing a song about Mohamed, the same ones saying oh no dont sing about God or Jesus, would be bending over backwards to let the kid sing about mohamed?

    • herzco

      Why Kirb? Because you seem totally DELUSIONAL. You are completely wrong – This would not happen in the LAUSD.

  • ryan

    Maybe its a song about his Mexican friend Jesus>

    • lot_at_this_guy's_post ^^^

      this may be the best comment here, my friend.

  • rakko

    I have written a song for the school that lauds The Prophet Mohammad 19 times in 25 lines. Is that okay?

  • Roy Wilhelm

    According to the pamphlet “Free to Speak,” an excerpt from from the guidelines by the U.S. Department of Education: “Where student speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control of their expression, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.”

  • Brate

    Keep religion out of public schools! We have enough religous strife without kids trying to stuff it down each others intellect! Seems to me there are a 1000 other songs he could choose to play wthout making a big “jesus” thing out of it.

  • Jesus lives in TJ

    Amen Jesus!

  • Rosanne Rodriguez

    He wants to DANCE to it, it’s an expression of his creativity. The federal government has more important issues to deal with than a public school talent show. This reminds me of why I support Homeschooling.

  • Michael C. Teniente

    Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    As anyone can see the Constitution says that congress can not make a “religion” the establishment of the government. In other words: Congress, not some kid singing a song, is prohibited from making laws that would mandate a state religion. Some kid singing a song has no bearing on establishing a law whatsoever.

    So, unless congress is making people respect an establishment of religion…almost anything else goes.

    mike t.

    • herzco

      Very good Michael! What have we learned from your post? That you can CUT AND PASTE paragraphs from the Constitution – paragraphs that fit what you desire. Never mind that you don’t know the law, or have NO idea about context etc. So silly. Do people really think they understand the TOTALITY of a problem by looking up something on Wikipedia etc, and then giving their not-too-bright opinions as “fact”?

      • Michael C. Teniente


        At least I put the Constitution up as the bases of my thought. You just give a rebuttal based on what? The vanity of your mind? In a court of law…your thought process would be throw out as frivolous.

        mike t.

  • Michael C. Teniente

    One more thing:

    This part of the Amendment:

    and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

    That means the kid can sue if anyone prohibits his rights to free speech. Again, he sang a song (Freedom of speech) and in no way was influencing Congress to pass a law that would constitute the Establishment of Religion.

    mike t.

  • Bible Believing Billy

    This sounds like a hate crime against people who believe in the Bible. As such, the offenders should be punished to the full extent of current hate crime trends. If a Muslim child was doing a dance to some eastern song about allah or ‘the sun and moon god’ – this would be considered quaint by all, and any objections, as such, would be construed as a hate crime. Turn about is fair play in today’s godless society! Romans 1:19; John 3:16

    • herzco

      So much for Christian acceptance of other people’s faiths or of others desire NOT to have a faith. What a hypocrite you are (feel free to look up “hypocrite” in the dictionary)

      • shawn

        billy isnt saying hes not accepting , he is just pointing out a fact that its ok to be of any faith and its accepted except for being christian.. whos the hypocrite now? look in the mirror.

    • Bible Believing Billy

      thank you, shawn. being a christian has lost its role as the kernel for american values. But of course, where is America in the Bible? Isaiah 5, or course. Keep in mind Luke 21:16-17 As it is written, it will happen: “Even those closest to you–your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends–will betray you. And some of you will be killed. And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me.” — Jesus

      • Sunnydays

        Amen! I will be praying for all these lost souls on here.

  • Michiko Ota Eyre

    One can make the argument that public funds are being used to support the talent show, therefore proselytizing, regardless of who is performing it, can be seen as a misuse of property tax money and federal funding. Whether it is Christianity or not is irrelevant. We must keep our public schools and government overall, secular.

  • Melissa Edwards

    i think the talent show should get rid of singing all together. If christian songs are not to be allowed then neither should the secular. Even if the song isn’t suggestive the christian students may find it just as offensive as their songs are not about God and are generally about self gratification and not about Gods opinion on the matter. Any songs that will be danced to should be purely instrumental since the matter is about offense. Just like in american idol its not about the song choice its about the talent of what is done with the song, phrasing, tone, melody, arrangement. There are christians out there who need to be heard whether people like it or not, even if you don’t agree with the kid why stifle what he wants to say to you? if he wanted to show his business skills, or show he could work a guitar like jimi hendrix we would praise him and put him on kids got talent. people talk so much about tolerance except for when it comes to christians. you want people to be openminded about everything and anything but God i think its time we shut up and let the kind be a the light he wants to be. Why stop a kid who wants to spread a message of love, forgiveness, repentance, giving, self-control, faithfulness, grace, mercy, kindness? i wonder if you stifle his gift, who does that make you?

  • Michael C. Teniente

    Sorry Michiko,

    But unless there is LAW being introduced by CONGRESS to the ESTABLISHMENT of a RELIGION as the STATE OR GOVERNMENT RELIGION no law has be broken here. Or no violation of the 1st Amendment is in play here.

    mike t.

    • bdj

      I will go back to the very first statement I made, “Religious songs of any kind have a proper place, but not in public schools”. It’s not about freedom of speech. It’s, in my opinion, what is appropriate for the environment.

      • socalmal

        “appropriate for the environment”? You mean the one where your school nurse has to allow you access to abortions without parental consent? The one where sex, drugs, humanistic altruism, and lack of respect rules supreme? Yeah, I can see how a kid doing an interpretive Jesus dance wouldn’t be welcomed. No tolerance for Christians.

      • Michael C. Teniente

        But your “opinion” doesn’t implement the actual interpretation of the 1st Amendment. “…What is appropriate for the environment.”…has nothing to do with Congress introducing a law that defies the wording of the 1st Amendment.

        That is what separates opinion from law. Adherence to the words of the Constitution and not the words of your thoughts. In other words: allow the words of the Constitution to enter into your mind and then lets see if how you interpret what is being said fits what is actually written. “What is appropriate for environment.” That is your thoughts. But did you apply “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” to your thought process to come to the conclusion that “What is appropriate for environment.” as a legitimate argument for keeping a kid from singing a religious song in a public school?

        If you examine the 1st Amendment compared to your statement…you have no legal standing to enforce your point of view.

        mike t.

      • bdj

        Your are right, it’s an opinion, it’s not a legal standing. I am not a constitutional lawyer. I will not argue constitution law. I will stand by my comment that there is a proper place and time for everything. Religious songs belong in a religious school. I do not care which religion you choose, my view applies to all religions. You would not have stripper in an school talent show, it’s not appropriate for the environment. My point being, some thing relate to the written law, some thing relate to commen sense law.

  • Brad Norwood

    If this little diddy violates the constitutionally mandated separation of church from state, then the hundreds of millions of dollars deducted on state and federal tax returns is also illegal.
    Those deductions for religious contributions result in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax that does not have to be paid.
    Thus, the state and Fed are subsidizing churches via the tax code….very very illetgal!!

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