BELLINGHAM, Mass. (WGGB) – It’s a popular song spanning several decades, lined with patriotism. However, one Massachusetts school wanted to change the words to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” to remove the religious reference.
Our FOX affiliate in Boston, WFXT-TV, is reporting that officials at the Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham wanted to change some of the lyrics to Greenwood’s song during an upcoming school production.
The station reports that the school wanted to substitute “God Bless the U.S.A.” with “We love the U.S.A.”
In an email circulated through town, some parents claimed that it violated their child’s first amendment rights, while others said that they were going to tell their kids to sing it in its original format, with ‘God’ in the lyrics.
One parent who was on that email chain agrees with the school’s position. “Don’t think there is anything wrong with changing the song. It’s a public school. If you want to have God in a song, go to a private school,” Matthew Cote told the station.
Parents caught wind of the move and started complaining, speaking out against the change. Now, the school has removed all songs from the assembly, according to WFXT-TV.
In a statement, the school says in part that the decision was made to “maintain the focus on the original objective of sharing students’ knowledge of the U.S. States, and because of logistics, will not include any songs.”
Late Wednesday night, singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood issued a statement to ABC40.
In it, he chastised school officials on the decision. “Maybe the school should have asked the parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course would have said you can’t change the lyrics at all or any part of the song,” says Greenwood.
“The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, which is also in the title God Bless The USA. We can’t take God out of the song, we can’t take God out of The Pledge of Allegiance, we can’t take God off of the American currency,“ adds Greenwood.
Greenwood concludes by saying that if the song is good enough to be played during every naturalization ceremony along with the National Anthem, “If the song is good enough to played and performed in its original setting under those circumstances, it surely should be good enough for our children.”
“God Bless the U.S.A.” was released in May 1984. On Billboard, it reached #7 on the Hot Country chart and #26 on the Adult Contemporary chart that year.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the song regained popularity and a re-released single of the song dropped in October 2001.