Legal threat cancels fundraiser

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Bob Kellogg (

Hawaii's Department of Education has canceled a high school orchestra's fundraising event because it was to be held at a church -- an action that one attorney calls another anti-Christmas pronouncement from the government.

The Moanalua High School orchestra has been holding Christmas concerts for years to raise money for Mercy Ships, which houses American doctors who are on a medical mission in Africa. Those physicians help the residents, some of whom have never seen a doctor.

Staver, Mat (Liberty Counsel)But Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel reports that no money will be raised this year, thanks to a complaint from Mitch Kahle, founder of the Hawaii Citizens for Separation of Church and State. According to the Hawaii Reporter, his letter to the Department of Education was written on Freedom From Religion Foundation stationary.

"This is absurd, because this concert is permissible," Staver asserts. "They've raised many, many dollars for good causes, and it's certainly not unconstitutional for a public school orchestra or other singers to go to a religious venue like, in this case, New Hope Church and have a concert."

The Liberty Counsel founder notes that his firm offers free advice on how to combat these kinds situations.

"Our 'Friend or Foe' Christmas Campaign is designed to educate and, if necessary, to litigate to make sure that Christmas is not censored, to make sure that these kinds of situations do not occur," Staver details. "We have a lot of free information there on our website. We also give free legal advice, free legal defense."

The award-winning orchestra has reportedly raised $200,000 over the last six years through their annual Christmas concert. The Hawaii Reporter explains that even though last weekend's concert was canceled, New Hope planned on trying to make up for the $30,000 that was promised to Mercy Ships this year by holding its own concert.

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