Freedom from Religion Foundation Says Mesa School Band Violates Constitution With Use of Crosses in Performance

The Mountain View marching band kneels by crosses that they put up to honor veterans during their pre-game show at a Desert Ridge High School home game on Oct. 30, 2014, in Mesa. (Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic)
The Mountain View marching band kneels by crosses that they put up to honor veterans during their pre-game show at a Desert Ridge High School home game on Oct. 30, 2014, in Mesa.
(Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic)

A Wisconsin-based anti-religion group has raised concerns to Mesa Public Schools that the Mountain View High School marching band violated the Constitution during an October show that included props made to look like the crosses at Normandy.

The school district maintains that the show is not an endorsement of Christianity, but a program to honor veterans.

The Mountain View band will perform the show again on Saturday at the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association State Marching Band Championship at Glendale Community College.

The band received national attention in 2013 when it performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. It won a superior rating for its performance of the Normandy show Nov. 1 at the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors State Marching Festival.

“While it is laudable for the Mountain View High marching band to honor U.S. military members, the use of Latin crosses in the performance sends the message that the band either only seeks to honor Christian service members or that it believes that only Christians serve in the U.S. military,” Sam Grover, an attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, said in an Oct. 22 letter to the district.

“Religion is a divisive force in public schools. These Latin crosses alienate those non-Christian students, teachers and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.”

He also listed cases in which courts have ruled that crosses should be displaced by public schools.

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SOURCE: USA Today / The Arizona Republic – Cathryn Creno

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