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ERIC Number: EJ1077044
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1063-5734
Religious Music and Free Speech: Philosophical Issues in Nurre v. Whitehead
Perrine, William M.
Philosophy of Music Education Review, v21 n2 p178-196 Fall 2013
On September 9, 2009, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that officials from Everett School District #2 in Mill Creek, Washington did not violate student Kathryn Nurre's constitutional rights to free speech by denying the Jackson High School Wind Ensemble the opportunity to perform an instrumental version of Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria" at the district's graduation ceremony. This philosophical study addresses implications of this legal case regarding religious music and free speech in public school music programs within the United States. Two questions are investigated: the issue of defining religious music and its relationship to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the issue of whether students have a right to musical expression protected by the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause. Conclusions suggest that some music in the Western classical tradition cannot be easily categorized as exclusively sacred or secular, and that performances of such music can be supported on both philosophical grounds and through the precedent of traditional performance practice and usage. Further, when students are allowed a choice of repertoire, schools should foster good citizenship by respecting the free expression of students as long as choices are not unduly influenced by the teacher and such performances occur within the context of a respectful and neutral environment that does not overtly demand a religious response from audience members.
Indiana University Press. 601 North Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404. Tel: 800-842-6796; Tel: 812-855-8817; Fax: 812-855-7931; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Washington
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A