The Orange County, Calif., chapter of the American Red Cross has canceled the planned performance of a music group at an upcoming event honoring the organization’s volunteers who helped at the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks because the group planned to sing songs that mention “prayer” and “God.”
“Somebody has gone a little overboard” at the Red Cross, said Cherilyn Bacon, director of First Act, a choral group made up of middle school-aged students from a local performing arts school.
The group was invited to perform “Heroes’ Trilogy” and to dedicate it to the 9-11 volunteers at tomorrow’s event. The arrangement includes three songs: “America the Beautiful,” “Prayer of the Children” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”
First Act’s rendition of “Declaration,” a song that includes the opening lines from the Declaration of Independence, was also deemed inappropriate. Bacon says Patricia Johnson, a representative of the American Red Cross in Orange County, told her the Declaration is “a political document that … may offend” some.
Lynn Howse, public affairs director in the Orange County Red Cross office, defended her organization’s decision on the Fox News Channel yesterday.
“We need to remain a neutral organization,” she said. Howse said another group from the same school will perform in place of First Act and that the program will still include patriotic numbers.
While there have been issues raised by public school districts throughout the U.S. about the religious content of songs students perform, the charter school First Act represents has no problem with its repertoire. As a California charter school, it receives some private funding.
“The school is totally supportive,” Bacon told WorldNetDaily. She refused to divulge the name of the school, citing the desire of administrators not to be drawn into the controversy.
Bacon mentioned that her group has received rave reviews for its moving rendition of “Heroes’ Trilogy,” which was arranged specifically to commemorate Sept. 11.
“The kids have performed these songs for a wide variety of organizations, from the Democrat and Republican Parties to the Santa Ana Interfaith Council,” she said in a statement. “Without fail, the performance has brought tears and instant standing ovations. From Muslim to Hare Krishna to Christian to Jew … there has been unanimous applause.”
Cindy Boragno, mother of one of the performers, was stunned by the Red Cross’ action.
“What rot! This is outrageous,” she said. “To think that the word ‘God’ cannot be used in a song.”
Student Malorie Bryant expressed disappointment at the withdrawal of the group’s invitation.
“We were so excited to finally be able to perform our special ‘Heroes’ tribute to the real heroes themselves,” she said.
Surmised Bacon, “By taking this ‘neutral’ position, [the Red Cross] has just offended most of America.”
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