Following previous fines for religiously-themed activities, last Friday, the marching band of Brandon High was benched during the first football game of the season. The half time show was set to feature the hymn "How Great Thou Art".
Captain Ken Chapman and his salvation army played their rendition Monday in front of the school. Chapman spoke against the school board's decision.
"Even though the band director got this approved in the spring, at the last minute, the school administrators withdrew their support. The school board is under a federal order, and I understand what they're trying to do. They've gone too far. You cannot regulate music, and you cannot regulate art," Chapman says.
Jennifer Cashion has a 9th grader in the band. She says it's unfortunate that the children have nothing to show for their hard work.
Professor Matt Steffey of Mississippi College School of Law says depending on the usage of the hymn, it may have been unconstitutional.
"These laws do as much protecting conscience as they do anything else. It may be that the school board just decided to rule on the side of extreme caution. But, this certainly doesn't have to be that the band never plays another hymn, no matter the context. That's just not what the law requires," Steffey says.
The federal court order has the Rankin County School District under close watch. School leaders say the district could be fined up to ten thousand dollars per violation.