Portland Public Schools Stop Choirs Performing At Grotto

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    The Freedom from Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin, put a spotlight on the issue last year, sending a complaint to Portland school officials.

    Grotto organizers said they have a waiting list from choirs wanting to perform here from around the world.

    Read the entire article here:


    Total B.S. When does the separation of church and state apply to a voluntary assembly? And a parking fee? Give me a break. This is pure and simple just wrong. Hopefully someone will step in and pay the damn parking fee without it going to the Catholic Church. This is an example of some who will try to make a political point and hurt the students at the same time. I hope some stronger minds will prevail here.


    PC amuck wigging out it’s very ugly head again in an untruth of so called separation of church and state which is a misnomer…nowhere in law/constitution…and ruining a long standing holiday tradition…how UN-American…yes…work it out so it can continue.


    The kicker in this situation is the parking fee, which goes to the Catholic Church, so the choirs could be considered to be helping fundraise for the church. At the same time, if one need not pay the parking fee to be able to go into the Grotto and listen to the choirs, then the Freedom from Religion Foundation is on very shakey ground.

    This seems like a knee jerk reaction by PPS, especially since other districts in the area don’t seem to see a problem with it.

    If there is any church/state crossover here it is very minor, and the benefits to the choir and the community should outweigh any possible constitutional conflict. I hope PPS reverses their decision.


    This is too bad.

    Most school music programs include a variety of music, some secular, some religious in a general celebration of the season that can appeal to everyone.

    Given it’s performance art, this makes a lot of sense and failing to understand that does nothing but dilute the value of the education inherent in the performing arts.

    I’m very seriously opposed and likely to write in and or encourage others to do this. Performing at the Grotto is a special thing most kids are going to enjoy, and it’s not hard to opt out should one not want to participate…


    And there is actually some cross over!

    You will find many of the alpha kids in these programs are performing at Church, maybe on their own, and in school. Additionally, local business, clubs, and other civic organizations will encourage this as a way for the kids to explore performing as well as have a lot of fun and add value to the community overall.

    It’s benign and should not be an issue.


    This wouldn’t be much of a problem if there was irrefutable proof God exists.


    >>irrefutable proof God exists.
    take a breath and wake up to another day…enough for me.


    Well, duh, a flat Earth is good enough for you, too.


    Broadway said;

    …untruth of so called separation of church and state which is a misnomer…nowhere in law/constitution…and ruining a long standing holiday tradition…how UN-American

    Judging from the quotes below from the founding fathers & subsequebt Presidents, It appears that it is your position that is fundamentally UN-American.


    We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition … In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”
    George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793

    “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
    ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

    “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
    ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802

    “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
    ~Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

    “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
    ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

    “The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.”~James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

    “Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”
    ~James Madison

    “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
    ~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

    “I could not do otherwise without transcending the limits prescribed by the Constitution for the President and without feeling that I might in some degree disturb the security which religion nowadays enjoys in this county in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government.”
    ~Andrew Jackson, statement refusing to proclaim a national day of fasting and prayer, 1832

    “The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent — that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgement.”
    ~John Tyler, letter, 1843

    “I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled.”
    ~Millard Fillmore, Address, 1856

    “Let us labor for the security of free thought, free speech, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and equal rights and privileges for all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion;…. leave the matter of religious teaching to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contribution. Keep church and state forever separate.”
    ~Ulysses S. Grant, Address, 1875

    “It is my firm belief that there should be separation of church and state in the United States–that is, that both church and state should be free to operate, without interference from each other in their respective areas of jurisdiction. We live in a liberal, democratic society which embraces wide varieties of belief and disbelief. There is no doubt in my mind that the pluralism which has developed under our Constitution, providing as it does a framework within which diverse opinions can exist side by side and by their interaction enrich the whole, is the most ideal system yet devised by man. I cannot conceive of a set of circumstances which would lead me to a different conclusion.”
    ~John F. Kennedy, Letter, 1959

    “I believe in the American tradition of separation of church and state which is expressed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. By my office – and by my personal conviction–I am sworn to uphold that tradition.”
    ~Lyndon B. Johnson, Interview, 1964

    “As you know, the separation of church and state is not subject to discussion or alteration. Under our Constitution no church or religion can be supported by the U.S. Government. We maintain freedom of religion so that an American can either worship in the church of his choice or choose to go to no church at all.”
    ~Richard Nixon, Letter, 1960

    “We establish no religion in this country. We command no worship. We mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate.”
    ~Ronald Reagan, Speech, 1984

    “I’m mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not. You’re equally an American if you choose to worship an almighty and if you choose not to.”
    ~George W. Bush, October 2004


    It has nothing to do with an absolute like that. Believe, don’t believe, doesn’t matter.

    I’ve had a lot of involvement with those kinds of programs in the past as a mentor advisor, parent, and as a kid, a lot of participation. A whole lot of good in my life is rooted in the performing arts.

    The kids lose on this one.

    There is no content requirement at The Grotto. Well, I suppose a Fuck You Jesus Christmas wouldn’t fly, but that wouldn’t be acceptable for school anyway. When my kids were performing there, the song set was a mix of secular, modern, traditional and religious. A good teacher will get that set approved prior and have no worries. If somebody wants to opt out, they can. For most groups, this isn’t a worry. Smaller ones might struggle a bit. Of course, they can do a different arrangement and have fun anyway.

    Once that is all good, an evening performance there is special. They do the work to take advantage of the atmosphere there, and it’s a nice experience for everyone, faith or not. You guys know my views on religion. I didn’t find one bit of anything that happened at The Grotto offensive, or pressuring.

    What they do is simple: Hey, we have this great place. Come sing in it and have fun. Of course, anyone seeking a religious experience out of that is free to do so, but the focus was on the kids and how that place can entertain and seeing them really get something out of it that isn’t a gym, or mall.

    Long ago, as a kid, we did the same kinds of things. A nice mix, and the holiday tunes are great tunes, well arranged, familiar, and a lot of fun to perform. One of my best memories was doing Providence. Sick people sat up, some moved, some came out to listen, and you could feel the good flow right to and into them. It was powerful, and you didn’t want it to end. Neither did they.

    Here’s the thing on this: Performing arts programs are best when the kids actually do get to perform. Finding venues that make sense isn’t hard. Finding good venues, that have a bit of sparkle is harder. The Grotto is one of those, and what happens is the kids feel that and they work harder, learn more, and often open up a little because it’s a more “real” show, with strangers coming to see them.

    That bit of stage pressure happens, and they get a taste of it, which is what the whole thing is about. Once they feel that a few times, and they get success –meaningful success, like the positive response from people they don’t know, they become inured to it, and that adds value to their life going forward.

    Many of them won’t have trouble speaking in public, or performing a demonstration / presentation. They feel that little tingle and instead of experiencing inhibition, they get that little twitch of excitement and how to execute a show kicks in and they perform well. I can’t tell you how much that has added to this geeks life. Hell, closing a 100K deal has that little spark that getting ready to knock out some tunes did long ago, and the handling of events, people, etc… comes naturally. I don’t even think twice, and that’s worth $$$ in life.

    When I compare to my non-people / performing oriented peers, the value of these programs is beyond question. No contest.

    And it’s that experience the kids lose out on.

    Maybe PPS can find some other venues that have that bit of expectation and sparkle associated with them. If they can’t do this one, they need to. It’s important, or really the kids just go through motions and do largely familiar things and they lose out on the little bits in those programs that change lives.

    And make no mistake, good experiences like this do change lives. Most of those kids will treat it like yet another school music performance. But a few will feel it just a little. It’s about those kids and what may come of them later on that I’m expressing concern about.

    I was that kid long ago, and events like this absolutely did change my life. We don’t need The Grotto for that to happen. I’m good with that, but just remember how difficult it is for a music teacher to actually make special things happen, and know The Grotto needs to be replaced with something, or those kids lose out.

    What is that something, and who is going to deliver that kind of performance experience and what will it cost everyone?

    And I suppose I’ve got another gripe here. Religious people are supposed to benefit their community. It’s not just a gathering, right? It’s not just about feeling good or washing away the sins of the week, or figuring out who to hate.

    At the core, it’s about doing a net good. Or at least it’s supposed to be about that.

    Say a church raised funds to get computers for kids. Or one offered up a venue for them to perform in. Maybe they donate equipment, or some other thing… We have the boosters doing stuff like that, as we do other groups and organizations, even benefactors doing the same.

    Gates donates a bunch of computers, and those come with strings. He wants to change education and just try stuff, so the money really isn’t free. It’s seldom that a gift to schools is completely free, like “here, take this, do stuff, enjoy” free.

    We gripe a lot when we see religion promoting bad. And there is a lot of bad too. If there were not, we would not be having this discussion would we? Maybe! Times have changed some, and social norms have advanced to a point of conflict that was not as prominent as it was before.

    This friction is understandable, and in the end, a good thing.

    But when good is done, can’t we recognize that too? Fair is fair, and I try really hard in my life to be fair, or at least just and considerate.

    This seems inconsiderate and unjust, and that’s all I’ll say about it, save for the fact that the experience needs to be replaced. The same asses pulling PPS from The Grotto need to dig deep and figure out what goes in it’s place, or all they did was dilute the performing arts programs just so they can feel better about it all.


    The one thing the grotto needs is security by the parking. I have been to the grotto twice in my lifetime and both times my car was broken into. windows smashed in and all because I had some change in my cup holder in the front seat. There was nothing else in my car. It’s these dann meth heads.😡
    These scum bags need Jesus in their life, that and their front teeth knocked in.


    When I left that region a few years back, the meth head population was on the rise.

    It was getting ugly then. 8 years ago. I can only imagine what it’s like now. 🙁

    The meth line was 122nd ave. West = meth and high crime. East = less meth, but more of them can afford it, so much less crime. 82nd ave = meth central.


    About 15 years ago, I was part of a symposium that hosted Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation as one of its presenters. I believe that I have some old U-matic tapes of the event stored away somewhere at my house.

    Barker is a former preacher, and the stated purposes of his organization are to protect non-believers from being proselytized and to prevent public funds from going into the hands of religious organizations. In principle, I support his mission. However, I think that Barker (and some other people whom I have met in the freethought community over the years) are ideologues who are prone to taking their ideas to extremes.

    I don’t support the use of tax money or public spaces for the creation of Ten Commandments monuments. I don’t support the addition of the verbiage “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. However, I think that it would be silly to challenge names of cities that have religious connotations, such as Las Cruces, Los Angeles, or San Francisco (which translate to “The Crosses,” “The Angels,” and “Saint Francis,” respectively) because these names are tied to the heritage of the respective cities. I am undecided on The Grotto issue.

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