An eighth-grade homeschooler’s choice of “Joy to the World” for a piano assignment was rejected due to its lyrics by a California charter school, which then reversed its decision under the threat of legal action.
Brooklyn Benzel, 13, was told by a South Sutter Charter School education specialist that her choice would not be acceptable for being too “religious.”
“My guess (regarding justification) is that there are words in the lyrics that can be considered religious such as ‘savior,’ and ‘heaven,'” the school official wrote. “It is widely considered as a Christian hymn and is typically played/sung at Christmas time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”
Even after her mother, Julianne Benzel, emailed back and forth with school officials about the classic holiday song that her daughter just intended to play and wasn’t going to sing them.
“Would Brooklyn’s rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ pass the auditor’s inspection or be flagged as religious?” she wrote. “I am compelled to err on the side of caution, so my answer…is no.”
It was suggested to Brooklyn that she play Jingle Bells as a “more cultural” choice “that won’t be “construed as religious” and rejected by the school’s auditors, FOX News reports.
However, the ban was lifted on Tuesday, Nov. 26, after Julianne Benzel threatened to sue with help from the Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal defense organization, which is also suing the company that manages the charter school for a similar case alleging religious discrimination against a piano teacher.
“You would think homeschooling would be the safest arena for conservatives. We are tired and extremely weary of our Christian faith being attacked in this country,” Julianne Benzel, who also is running for California’s 4th Congressional District, said.