For a short time, there was no joy at one California charter school, and that’s EXACTLY how school officials initially wanted it.
Last November at Sacramento’s South Sutter Charter School, 13-year-old Brooklyn Benzel, a partially home-schooled eighth-grader, chose the classic Christmas song “Joy to the World” for a piano assignment.
The plan, according to the Christian Broadcasting Network, was for her to serenade a retirement home with the song and then submit the recording as part of her “independent-study portfolio.”
But that quickly fell by the wayside thanks to some very unjoyful school officials.
“My guess (regarding justification) is that there are words in the lyrics that can be considered religious such as ‘savior,’ and ‘heaven,'” an unnamed school official wrote to Benzel and her family. “It is widely considered as a Christian hymn and is typically played/sung at Christmas time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”
And … !?
Don’t mean to interrupt your Sunday afternoon football…just keeping ya’all aware: Brooklyn’s piano sample for the…
Of course, according to Benzel’s mother, Julianne, her daughter hadn’t even planned to sing any of the song’s Christmas-themed words. She’d just planned to play it by piano.
The unnamed official then suggested that Benzel instead play “Jingle Bells” because it’d be a “more cultural” choice “that won’t be “construed as religious” by the school’s auditors …
“Would Brooklyn’s rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ pass the auditor’s inspection or be flagged as religious?” the official wrote. “I am compelled to err on the side of caution, so my answer…is no.”
Julianne was stunned.
“You would think homeschooling would be the safest arena for conservatives,” she said to Fox News. “We are tired and extremely weary of our Christian faith being attacked in this country.”
It doesn’t help that attacks on the Christian faith have been adopted by powerful politicians of the Democrat persuasion.
Exasperated by the school’s reasoning, Benzel’s family then reportedly reached out for help to the Pacific Justice Institute, a non-profit that provides pro bono defense for matters related to civil and religious rights and liberties.
The group has in the past defended schoolgirls who were harmed by transgender laws, a government employee who was punished for criticizing Obamacare and an Army veteran who was placed on administrative leave for including the phrase “God bless America” in his business emails.
“PJI’s attorney Matthew McReynolds first called and spoke with the school’s general counsel, and then he prepared a legal demand letter to highlight student free speech rights and the lack of justification for the school’s fears,” CBN notes.
Not long after the non-profit reached out to the school, it folded like a cheap chair.
Cynthia Rachel, the director of communications and development for the school’s parent company, Innovative Education Management (IEM), confirmed to Fox that, after reviewing the matter, she and her colleagues determined the song “was an acceptable work sample.”
“At South Sutter Charter School our goal is to provide students as much flexibility as is allowable by law in all aspects of their education,” she said. “We recognize and value our students’ First Amendment freedoms, and acknowledge that all public schools must be nonsectarian. South Sutter will continue to serve its students consistent with the law and its charter.”
Better late than never?
Watch Benzel playing “Joy to the World” below:
Here’s Brooklyn’s piano sample that we submitted. (She’s a beginner.) Tell me if this “offends anyone due to its religious implications” ?!?
Posted by Julianne Benzel on Sunday, November 24, 2019
Benzel was thrilled, as were her attorneys.
“We’re thrilled that Brooklyn will now be able to bring joy to this retirement home with a timeless carol,” McReynolds said. “No student should be made to feel that their choice of a musical performance is unacceptable just because it has both religious and cultural significance.”
Brad Dacus, the president of PJI, concurred, saying, “Without fail, the grinches come out every year during the Christmas season to try to take away timeless traditions and censor our speech. PJI is committed to preserving our cherished freedoms as Americans, both at Christmas and throughout the year.”
Benzel wound up playing the song at a retirement home for Christmas the next month.
Moreover, she wound up catching the attention of renowned Christian evangelist and missionary, Rev. Franklin Graham:
Brooklyn Benzel is 13 years old and chose to play “Joy to the World” for an assignment at her California charter school…
But the story doesn’t end there. It turns out that her mother is a pro-Trump, pro-police Republican who’s running to replace Rep. Tom McClintock, also a Republican.
“With a firm foundation and knowledge of our US Constitution and History, I am fighting to restore our basic founding principles,” her campaign website reads. “We currently have a ‘placeholder’ in CA-04 and we need a ‘firebrand.’ The dynamics and concerns of CA-04 have changed and it is time for a new, fresh, and passionate voice. I will relentlessly advocate for the issues that ALL of my constituents care about.”
It continues by talking about the need for more Trump-styled populism and less establishment BS.
“The election of 2016 was genuinely fascinating to me,” it reads. “A businessman with no political experience somehow outdid the “establishment” candidate. It clearly paved the way for a new era in our political process and flung the door wide open for someone like me to even consider running for office. I am continuing the Populist Revolt!”
Learn more about her campaign below:
Thank you to all those who have served around the country and in CA04! We honor you today. ?? pic.twitter.com/Mjj28sEdt9
— Julianne Benzel for Congress (@Benzel4Congress) January 9, 2020
— Julianne Benzel for Congress (@Benzel4Congress) January 8, 2020
— Julianne Benzel for Congress (@Benzel4Congress) January 3, 2020
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