It's ridiculous to complain about the word "Christ" in a song played at school unless the teacher is actually focusing on one religion as a subject, which was not the situation in the case below.
Note to Lemon Grove School District: Although "Christ" was added to the name of Jesus by believers after his death, and wasn't actually part of Jesus' name during his life, a lot of people have heard the words "Jesus Christ" so often that they think Jesus had two names. They are not saying "Jesus is the Messiah" when they say, or play a song tape that says, "Christ." Really, they aren't. You shouldn't have made such a big deal out of this word. It was unfair.
It's good to teach about religion in the classroom as long as more than one religion is covered. The California framework asks that teachers cover three or more faiths if they talk about religion.
Dance teacher fired for using religious music
Pacific Justice Institute
September 8, 2009
A dance teacher who was terminated from her job after a complaint was made that she used religious music in her instruction, is in trial this week. The single complaint which cost the teacher her job came from a school staff member rather than a parent or student. In addition to secular music on the day in question, the instructor, Kathy Villalobos, used a rendition of Dona Nobis Pachem, Canon in D and O Si Funi Mungu. Dona Nobis Pachem is a baroque piece by J.S. Bach and is sung in Latin. O Si Funi Mungu, which is translated as “Praise God,” is sung in Swahili, though the song has some English interspersed. Though the 15 stanza song is predominantly in Swahili, one stanza mentions Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
An attorney for the Lemon Grove School District, Dan Shinoff, cross-examined the teacher on her views of the Trinity. The jury sat attentive as the songs were played in court last week. Villalobos then testified as to the educational purpose for the selections.
Despite emails and testimony to the contrary, the District is claiming that Villalobos was not fired because of the religious music but for reasons such as pupil attendance class scheduling. Yet, the school is inconsistently claiming that it was justified in firing Villalobos to prevent a violation of the separation of church and state. “It is clearly constitutional and legal for a teacher to use both religious and secular music as a part of instruction,” commented Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.
Villalobos’ lead attorney in the case is Karen Milam, PJI Senior Counsel who directs the southern California office. Assisting her in the trial is PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds. The trial, now in its second week, will likely go to the jury on Thursday. California law which allows instructors to use non-proselytizing references to religion while teaching, specifically identifies dance instruction as an acceptable subject for use of such references. (9/1/09, Pacific Justice Institute)
No God Music
San Diego Reader
By Jay Allen Sanford
Oct. 14, 2009
“I played a song in my after-school dance class, a job that I had for five years [and] this song mentioned the name ‘Christ,’ ” says former Lemon Grove arts teacher Kathy Villalobos. “This name…seemed to bother an administrator, a clerk, and an after-school coordinator; subsequently, I lost my job a few days later.”
“Religious art and music should not be banished from our schools,” says attorney Karen Milam of the Pacific Justice Institute, which is appealing a recent San Diego County Superior Court decision dismissing Villalobos’s claim of wrongful discrimination because “[Villalobos] had not suffered as much as the Jews in Nazi Germany.”
The song in contention, “O Sifuni Mungu,” is mostly sung in Swahili. Villalobos claims the song — chosen for its danceable African rhythm — was the cause of her termination. The Lemon Grove School District maintains she was fired mainly due to missing a number of classes and district rescheduling.
“They are also on record as saying this is about insubordination,” says Villalobos. “I have never, ever in all the five years had one complaint or warning laid against me until someone heard the name of Christ in one of my songs.… They have offered me a ‘settlement,’ what I call ‘hush money,’ and they absolutely refuse to publicly admit what they did.”