Some parents at Chief Charlo Elementary, a public school in Missoula, are rightly upset about a holiday music program featuring religious songs.

They recently sent a letter to the Missoula County School District expressing their concerns about the songs, which include tributes to Jesus.

What's really troubling is that parents expressed these same concerns last year.

In an interview with the Missoulian, the district's Fine Arts Director John Combs defended the music saying it was secular even though it included songs like "Good Christian Men Rejoice" and a Polish lullaby sung to the baby Jesus.

"We work hard to put together a program that is respectful of everybody's views, and yes, sometimes it can lean one way, and when that happens, we balance it out the next year the other way," he said.

That's not the way it works. There is no balancing of religious and secular instruction. The Constitution prohibits public schools from endorsing any religion. Period.

The ACLU of Montana even sent Chief Charlo Elementary Principal David Rott a copy of our guide to religious freedom in public schools at the start of the school year.

It's hard to know in exactly what context the songs were taught the children. And religious music isn't explicitly prohibited from being taught in public schools, as long as it is not used to endorse a religion or indoctrinate students.

Still, it's clear that some children were clearly deeply troubled by the religious songs and were marginalized by their inclusion in the program. Does that fit within the spirit of Christmas?

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