"The Devil Went Down to Georgia"
aebrownstein at law.ucdavis.edu
Sun Oct 16 18:30:16 PDT 2005
It's not just songs that raise this issue. The Davis High School football team is the Blue Devils. In theory, this is supposed to refer to some highly decorated regiment during World War I. But the insignia the school uses looks pretty much a conventional image of the Devil -- as in Satan.
Every few years, some Christian parents protest the name and insignia. They do not receive a lot of support. (For what it is worth, I supported them -- but that did not help very much.) I tend to see the issue the same way I see public school celebrations of Holloween (the problem here is witches, not pumpkins). Some religious families find those activities to be religiously offensive and problematic. I have no problem with Halloween, but I think public schools should avoid gratutious programs that cause problems for religious minorities in a community -- particularly when doing so will not have any negative impact on the educational mission.
Drawing the line between rules of governmental etiquette in a religiously diverse community and constitutional law isn't always clear. But I doubt the Blue Devils will be held to violate the Establishment Clause.
As for music, public school programs that include religious music that reflects diverse religious traditions can satisfy both etiquette and constitutional concerns. The problem is that most schools don't even try to achieve that kind of diversity. Again, most courts don't find a violation of the Establishment Clause when schools put on music programs that exclude all religious traditions but that of the majority.
From: religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of Richard Dougherty
Sent: Sat 10/15/2005 12:26 PM
To: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics; Law & Religion issues for Law Academics
Subject: Re: "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"
The band director doesn't seem to make clear whether he thinks it is illegal to play it, but is trying to prevent trouble.
List members so far have suggested this is an over-reaction; if that is true (it may very well be), why do you think people have drawn that conclusion? Answering that may lead us to some conclusions about the connection between academic life and the more common American perception.
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