A Massachusetts elementary school that believed it would prevent people from being offended by removing the word, “God” from a well-known patriotic anthem written by Lee Greenwood achieved just the opposite result.
The Stall Brook school in Bellingham, Massachusetts wanted to replace the phrase “God bless the USA,” which is also the name of the song, with the phrase “We love the USA.” Mat Staver with Liberty Counsel says the removal was totally unnecessary and simply shows the school’s apparent dislike for the word “God.”
Staver goes on to point out the school could very well have violated copyright laws by changing the words from those originally penned by Lee Greenwood who owns the copyright on the song.
Following news of the school’s decision, fierce criticism developed from around the country and the news was broadcast on radio talk shows.
The school appeared to be unsure how to handle the criticism. District Superintendent Edward Fleury issued a statement acknowledging that “political correctness” was behind their decision. Atheist groups attacked the school for using the song at all, while others criticized the school saying it was just another act of censorship aimed at removing God from the public arena.
Following the firestorm, the school initially decided to remove all songs from the event which was to showcase students’ knowledge of the 50 states. However, they later backtracked on that and ultimately decided to allow students to sing the song with the word, “God’ in it.
Lee Greenwood, who both wrote and sang the song even chimed in on the debate, condemning the school’s actions.
“The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, which is also in the title “God Bless The USA,” Greenwood said. “Maybe the school should have asked the parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course, would have said you can’t change the lyrics at all or any part of the song.”
The song was first sung by Greenwood in 1984 and was played at that year’s Republican national convention with President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in attendance.
The song became an immediate hit especially with members of the military.