A federal court in Florida said a public school violated the Constitution by requiring students to perform a religious-political song titled, “In God We Still Trust.”
The lyrics include these lines: “There’s no separation.… We are one nation under Him.… Now there are those among us, Who want to push Him out…. From the schoolhouse to the courthouse, They’re silencing His word, Now it’s time for all believers, To make our voices heard.”
The song, by country music band Diamond Rio, was played during class at least three times and practiced by the whole class at least once. Teachers told students that if they objected to the sentiments, they would have to forgo participating in the assembly.
U.S. District Judge Harvey E. Schlesinger ordered St. John’s County School to drop the song and drove home the First Amendment’s promise of church-state separation, even citing Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation.”
In his S.D. v. St. John’s County School District opinion, Schlesinger called the lyrics “patently religious” and “proselytizing.”
“The lyrics to the song take aim at one [of] our nation’s fundamental principles: the separation of church and state,” he continued. “The Constitution’s prohibition of the state’s ‘establishment of religion’ mandates that the government treat religions equally.” The judge concluded: “These lyrics endorse a specific viewpoint of preference for religious sectarianism. Further…this song antagonizes and degrades those whose beliefs differ from the ones espoused by the lyrics.”