Choir concerts at grade schools in Ocean Springs, Miss. no longer include Christian worship songs, and are held at the school instead of a church, thanks to the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
A concerned parent contacted FFRF after their child participated in a school concert held at a local Baptist church and six of the 14 songs performed were religious. Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt wrote to Superintendent Bonita Coleman-Potter on Nov. 12, 2012, asking her to instruct the district’s school to stop teaching young, public school students religious songs. She also requested future school-sponsored events to not be held in churches.
Schmitt found one of the songs the choir performed, “Joshua Fit the Battle” particularly worrisome because it proudly recounts the Battle of Jericho, where Joshua is instructed by his god to commit genocide on the people of Jericho. Schmitt quoted Chapter 6 of Joshua where, “they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”
On Feb. 14, 2013, FFRF was informed the school’s choir and band held a Fall Concert, which in previous years was called the Christmas concert, on Dec. 3. The concert was held in the school’s auditorium and included all secular music.