Our Threatened Freedom

When Is It Illegal To Sing In Church? (03:10)

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:05 This is R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom. In 1981, a public high school in a midwestern state had to stop scheduling appearances by the school chorus in religious institutions. The school board was threatened with court action unless it would have stopped all such concerts. The school board, given the hostility of the [inaudible 00:00:30] such things indicated that it would comply with the demand, and no more concerts would be held in churches or synagogues. One of the problems for our music directors in high schools is finding an audience for their chorus. All year long, the students learn and rehears, but the singing opportunities are few. One of the best incentives to the students, however, is an appearance before a group of adults. In many areas, churches have provided an excellent opportunity. Each year, churches have a number of midweek activities such as a mother and daughter banquet, a father and son dinner, a harvest festival and so on.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:12 These occasions have kept many a high school chorus both busy and happy, and they have been excellent means of public relations. Now they are forbidden. Now, in the name of the First Amendment, they are forbidden, but why? How do they violate the First Amendment? The First Amendment has two aspects. First, it stipulates that there can be no establishment of any particular religious organization. Establishment historically has meant that the state finances and governs a particular church. How did this choir appearance constitute an establishment? The main beneficiary has always been the high school chorus and giving them an audience. Second, the First Amendment bars the civil authorities from infringing on the free exercise of religion.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:11 Now, how can anyone say that a high school chorus singing at a church’s harvest festival has somehow prevented the free exercise of religion? This, however, is the kind of law we are getting. Is it any wonder that all our First Amendment guarantees are steadily being diminished by re-interpretation? The high school choruses lost a major audience because of this step. However, all of us became the losers, because the law was used to achieve unreasonable ends and to further the demolition of law in society. Legal irrationality is increasingly the order of the day and a major force for irrationality and disorder in life. This has been R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom.


Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder