FFRF silences unconstitutional Hawaii concert (Dec. 3, 2012)

The Moanalua High School Music Department (Honolulu, Hawaii) has canceled an unconstitutional concert in response to a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

For four years Moanalua High School had been partnering with New Hope Church to put on a holiday concert. Students and families alike had to purchase tickets from the church and several complainants reported that they had to attend a church service before they were allowed to buy the tickets. The church even promoted the “special relationship” between itself and the school on its website: “Kick off the Christmas season with this great concert featuring Moanalua High School’s music department, friends from New Hope and surprise special guests.” In a Dec. 3 letter to the Hawaii State Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel pointed out that “all payments are made to New Hope Church, not the school.” And that past concerts included prayers and proselytizing by New Hope’s pastor.

“It is inappropriate for a public school to promote a Christian organization. If Moanalua High School Music Department continues to raise money for and perform with this Christian church, it shows that the district has an unlawful preference not only for religion over non-religion, but also Christianity over other faiths,” wrote Seidel.

Matayoshi contacted Seidel on Dec. 3 to tell him that the concert had been canceled.

Freedom From Religion Foundation