New developments in Collier County chorus controversy

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COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – New developments to a major debate in Collier County, that’s gaining national attention. At issue, should students in a chorus be forced to sing in a church, even if it’s against their religion? WINK News was at the school board meeting on Tuesday, as about 100 students and parents rallied in support of the Barron Collier Choir.

“They really should be supporting us and not trying to take this away from us,” said senior, Morgan Massa.

Massa and other supporters want the school board to let them hold every choir concert at Moorings Presbyterian Church. It’s the venue they’ve always used until some parents complained, saying the church violated their kids’ first amendment rights and the A.C.L.U. got involved.

“We’re not singing in the church for religious reasons,” said senior Jonathan Dina. “We are singing there for the acoustics.”

But, that’s not how former choir alum, Amanda Cook, sees it. She says 75% of the songs the choir performs are religious. She also tells WINK News singing at the church made her uncomfortable, and so did the choir director.

“I think Mr. Peterson forcing students to sing praises to his god is a form of bullying,” said Cook.

Despite the controversy, and the dozens of people protesting, the district stuck by their original solution. School leaders divided the concerts between the church and other venues. Leaving both sides still fighting.

“Its just so sad that we have all these community members here and its still a question in the district’s mind,” said Massa.

The choir will be performing its next concert on November 20th at Gulf Coast High School. Their December concert will be held at Moorings Presbyterian Church.

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