Skip to comments.Wiccan to sit out two Christmas songs
Posted on 12/13/2009 7:30:38 AM PST by markomalley
Fifteen-year-old Katarina Keen won't sing along to "Silent Night" or "Listen to the Stars," two Christian songs planned for her choir's upcoming Christmas concert at Borger High School. But she will sing "Jingle Bells" and "A Carol in Winter."
Katarina and her family are Wiccan.
The Borger High choirs have given a concert every December, with traditional religious Christmas songs, but this is the first time in director Johnny Miller's 23-year career that any Borger student had issues with the religious themes in the music, he said.
A concert at 2:30 p.m. Sunday will feature a ninth- and 10th-grade choir and an 11th- and 12th-grade choir, with each ensemble singing five songs. The concert will take place in the Borger High auditorium.
"We're doing our best to accommodate everyone's wishes," Miller said. "It's just difficult, because it's a complete 180 of what I have always done."
Every year, in communities across the nation, Christmas activities in public schools spur conversations regarding religion in schools, said Charles Haynes, a First Amendment scholar who has spent 20 years helping communities find common ground.
"Many Americans understand that a lot is at stake on how we handle religion in public schools," said Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C.
Students began preparing in October for the concert in Borger, and Katarina said Miller had planned for the choir to sing Christian songs. She and her mother, Jean Keen, told Miller she couldn't sing those songs because she's Wiccan.
The Keens also have raised concerns this year about prayers in class and a prayer board posted in the choir room.
Miller said he gave students permission to lead prayers in class Mondays, at their request. The prayer board was a student-led activity, he said. Miller revamped the concert to include a wider variety of secular songs for the holiday season.
As a Wiccan family, the Keens worship Mother Earth.
"We don't believe in Satanism," Jean Keen said. "We worship trees, the solstices."
Wicca began in the early 19th century as a religion that emphasizes growth through harmony in diversity, knowledge, wisdom and exploration, according to a Web site for the Church and School of Wicca.
While their Christian peers in Borger celebrate Christmas, the Keens are preparing for one of eight Wiccan holidays, the Yule, in celebration of the winter solstice Dec. 21.
"It's not a very pushy religion," Katarina said. "It's really easy to worship. We accept everyone, and we don't diss anyone. We don't put any other religion down. We accept them while other people just judge them."
The music selected for the Borger choir concert is standard choral literature, even though some pieces are religious in content, said Miller, a member of the Texas Music Educators Association and the Texas Choral Directors Association. The choir has produced all-state singers, choral directors and garnered awards in concert performance and sight-reading from the University Interscholastic League.
"Choral music has its roots in the church. In order to teach it accurately, you have to teach it from whence it came," Miller said. "I teach the foundation or the building blocks so these students can go out with a well-rounded foundation in choral music."
Some school districts have staged concerts that mirror a church service, while others have excluded religious content entirely, Haynes said. Either scenario can result in conflict, the former creating a potential issue with the First Amendment and the latter producing a community backlash.
The better solution is to make a "good-faith attempt" to teach religious material in the context of discussing cultures and traditions, being careful not to promote a particular theology, Haynes said. Schools also should provide a reasonable, limited opt-out policy that is specific to certain songs or a lesson, he said.
"Sometimes being religious comes with a price, and it makes the student feel like an outsider," he said. "A school cannot avoid all of that. A family has to make a decision what kind of school environment they want. In a public school, (there are) certain things a child is exposed to."
Randall High School's choir concert Sunday will include "Of the Father's Love Begotten," "Jesu Bambino" and an arrangement of "Deck the Halls," director Marcus Bradford said. The choir will end, per tradition, with the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah."
"I try to vary styles of literature, sacred and secular literature," Bradford said. "We're not teaching a theology of anything. We're really teaching music history and culture."
In Borger, Katarina won't have to sing compositions that are counter to her faith, Superintendent Clifton Stephens said.
"We've bent over backwards to be cooperative with (the family)," Stephens said. "We've always taken time to listen to concerns they have."
For Katarina, though, the experience this year in choir isn't the fun class she had envisioned, where she would learn songs in a team environment.
"This is school and not church," she said. "I was the one kid that stood out."
Katarina Keen, front, 15, is a freshman member of the Borger High School choir. Katarina and her family, clockwise from back right, father Phillip, sister Kennedy, sister Cheyenne, brother Phillip II and mother Jean, are Wiccan.
The problem with public schools...(yet another one)
It looks to me like tree worship is hard on the eyes.
“As a Wiccan family, the Keens worship Mother Earth.”
....I wonder if Mother Earth is going to give them the 24th and 25th off from work with pay?...they better call their boss and make arrangements to go in that day if they don’t want to accept Christmas.
They worship Trees?
I hope their house is made out of Concrete....or do they consider their home a grave.....poor things/sarc...
The time will come when Miss Katarina is on her face before Jesus Christ like every other human being who has ever existed.
And then where will her "Wiccan" brethren be?
Pretty unhappy bunch of perpetual victims
What an ugly bunch!!
Swimming in lakes of fire.
Perfect. She is going to sit out the songs that offend her. What’s the problem?
If Wiccans are so accepting of other people’s religion why can’t she sing Christmas Songs?
What a bunch. Ah...well, they found a way to get some attention which might not otherwise be very forthcoming.
Bubbles! One of the greatest TV characters of all times!
I’m still laughing!!!! *<:O)
Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead. Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed. Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She's gone where the goblins go, Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out. Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low. Let them know The Wicked Witch is dead!
“We don’t believe in Satanism,” Jean Keen said. “We worship trees, the solstices.”
Yes, but you can bet your last dollar that satan believes in you.
On another note, what the heck is wrong with this stupid school? Don’t they know that the majority has to hide their convictions so as to not offend the minority?
Bubbles. I love TPB!
Fine, so she sits out. No big deal. At least she’s not asking to interupt the class with screeching and footwashing.
Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum,
Your branches green delight us.
They’re green when summer days are bright;
They’re green when winter snow is white.
Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum,
Your branches green delight us!
Anybody know any good wiccan songs?
I didn’t think so...
LOL. Just what I was thinking too. Check out the woman standing in the middle (second from the left) and the bug-eyed kid in the pink coat. Nice, eh?
That’s fine. The secret with the US model is that nobody HAS to do something with which they do not agree. Well, until now, when we will all be having to pledge allegiance to the Obama Marxist Gay United States.
That said, I really feel bad for these kids. Also, somebody in the family obviously has a genetically transmitted visual defect but will not permit the kids to have a fairly simple surgery that could correct it, at least from the aesthetic point of view.
I had a BIL who was cross-eyed and refused to let his 7 kids have the surgery because he felt that he was made that way, it was fine for him, and they should have to suffer as he had done. Very sad for the kids, since the defect could have been corrected very easily and would have made their lives in school a lot more pleasant.
I feel bad for this poor kid. She’s only 15 and she’s trying to do what her family has told her was right. There’s a good chance she’s not the most popular kid in her school and kids can be cruel at her age. I don’t ever say this on FR but I think she needs prayers.
It’s early but I think it’s safe to say that was the post of the day.
I bet you could come up with some old Celtic Winter Solstice songs that these neo-pagans would approve of.
But I wonder if the school would allow a Christian kid to sit any of them out.
No, I'm not willing to put any money on question...
.Or perhaps they are just Winter Solstice lights, eh?
What’s the wiccan view of cutting down Christmas trees?
Burning the Yule log?
They celebrate ugly very well.
I don’t see a problem with it, either. At least she’s not demanding that the songs be taken out of the performance and that the word “Christmas” be replaced with something more “diverse”.
Ever notice who the intolerant ones are?
Pray for America’s Freedom
Why is this even ‘news’?
They can stay home as far as I’m concerned and worship their ‘lord’ Satan!
Sometimes ‘news’ isn’t!
Our orchestra just played a concert yesterday and our Jewish member had no problem playing all of the Christmas music.
But then, he’s a well-adjusted adult with no desire to claim 15 minutes of fame on the evening news.
Parents inflicting madness on their children.
How long before, and for how long afterwards, will this one be under psychiatric care (at taxpayer’s expense)?
And they always tend to look like that too.
“Perfect. She is going to sit out the songs that offend her. Whats the problem?”
I agree. They aren’t demanding the songs not be sung. They are participating where they are confortable and not standing in the way for others to do the same. perfect compromise that doesn’t even warrant a news story.
Why has our left-leaning culture decided that celebrating others' happiness or traditions is forbidden? Why the distancing from each other?
I sure sang Jewish holiday songs when I was in choir. It was part of the tradition, too.
We are all forced to "celebrate" the PC sub-group of the day but none of the PC sub-groups will return the friendliness. They cannot show respect to any but their own sub-group, I guess.
Good heavens. As attractive as a bag full of a**holes, lousy eyesight, horrible sartorial choices, smug, and with an attitude to boot. The poster family for Wiccans.
Given that,I assume that these clowns insist on going to work/school on Christmas Day or,if they can't do that,insist on not being paid for the day off.
Once you hit the professional scene, if you refuse to sing or play something, you don’t get gigs.
Every story like this is accompanied by a photo of the family, all wearing the same dreary "I'm such a victim" facial expression. And the kid they're using as the poster child for their cause is featured prominently in the foreground.
Not only will this make life difficult for her now, but I wonder if, down the road, this girl is going to resent having been the center of this sort of notoriety. Knew a teenage girl locally whose obnoxious liberal mother prominently used her to promote some ideological differences she had with the school district. The poor kid hated it and just wanted her mother to stop so that she could go to school in peace.
Some battles are indeed worth fighting, but I can't imagine using my child as a lightning rod to promote my own oddball ideology.
Why are we allowing the minority to tell us what to do? What is wrong with the majority who believes in GOD? Who are Christians? Why are we allowing our rights to be stripped away for the minority.
Exactly. So what.
She’s 15 living under her parents roof. Give her a chance to grow up.
I’m sure she takes enough crap from her school mates that she doesn’t need it from a bunch of grownups on this site.
To whoever posted the pictures, thank you. I knew this twirp would be fat and ugly. I however didn't suspect that her entire family would look like genetic u-turns.
They advertise the concert with handbills posted in store windows, etc. They make money from a small, voluntary admission at the door. The community supports the event. The choir does NOT depend on the government (i.e. the school district, whatever) to fund it programs.
The time will come when the populace will have to get off its collective duff and organize its own religious events or lose them all together....and it's coming soon.
Screw the school and start an after-school choir practice in someone's donated privately-owned facility or Mr. Doe's three-car garage.
The downside of this being that the average reaction of actually doing something on one's own these day will be shrieks of religious persecution coupled with ineffectual handwringing and eventual shoulder-shrugging.