"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
Last night, a friend told us about this story out of Lindale, TX; re-printed (with permission) in full from Seven Spheres news:
School District Defies Lawsuit Threats to Perform “In God We Trust” the Musical
By Patrick Butler, Seven Spheres News
LINDALE, Texas – In defiance of lawsuit threats from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an estimated 2,200 people turned out Wednesday night in Lindale, Texas, to view the Lindale Independent School District’s 5th Grade musical "In God We Trust."
The Lindale High School's performing arts center was filled to its capacity of about 1,300 people said event organizers, and overflow rooms were set up in the school gymnasium and cafeteria.
U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) attended the event to “show his support” as did civic representatives and staffers including Jason Wright of Senator Ted Cruz's office and Texas State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Dist. 5). The mayor of Lindale, and other local elected officials, joined a standing-room-only capacity crowd to see the musical.
“We also have an overflow room of 200 filled to capacity,” said the Rev. Tom Buck, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lindale, to the cheering audience, “and another overflow room of 700 also filled to capacity. Those who can't fit in the rooms are out on the lawn, listening to an audio-only,” feed from the auditorium.
Buck said he was “overwhelmed” by the community support for “In God We Trust,” as did the play's co-authors, Chris and Dian Machen of Plano, Texas, located on the outskirts of Dallas, about 90 miles west of Lindale. The couple came to Lindale when they heard the Freedom From Religion Foundation had threatened to sue the Lindale School District if the play was performed as a school function.
“The number of people here tonight is far beyond what a play like this would normally attract,” said Machen. “Because of what they [Freedom From Religion Foundation] have done, more people than ever are seeing this play.”
While the words of the songs originated with the Machens, the spoken elements of the play were, for the most part, direct quotes from America's Founding Fathers affirming the role of God in the formation of the country.
The recitations by the Founding Fathers were re-enacted by fifth grade class members, often in period costume. Direct quotes affirming the role of religion in America from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and William Bradford (governor of Plymouth Plantation in the 1600's), were recited without elaboration or interpretation, allowing the writers to speak for themselves.
Fifth-grader Francisco Mata delivered Bradford's observation that, “A vessel, called the Mayflower, delivered us in pursuit of a new country. To declare our faith, we travelled under a sail inscribed with the words, 'In God We Trust.’”
The “separation of church and state” controversy was met with Thomas Jefferson's own words taken from the letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, recited by fifth-grader Colton Beeler to heavy applause: “I believe with you,” wrote Jefferson, “that religion is a matter that lies only between man and God. The people have voted that no law controls the decisions of churches in America. It is not that the state should be separate from religion, but that religion should be separate from the state.”
A consortium of churches in Lindale, including First Baptist Church of Lindale that spearheaded the event, rented the high school’s performing arts center for the evening and staffed the venue. That enabled the fifth grade class at E.J. Moss Elementary school to present their play, which had been stopped when the Freedom From Religion Foundation out of Wisconsin threatened a lawsuit just two days before the scheduled event.
Gohmert spoke afterwards congratulating the children, parents and community supporters.
"Don't you just love Lindale, Texas?" Gohmert said, to a cheering crowd.
To the class he said, “I've been in the presence of presidents of our country. I've been in the presence of prime ministers and queens. There is nowhere I'd rather be tonight than right here in Lindale with you.”
Gohmert quoted Benjamin Franklin, too.
“Franklin also said, 'God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground, is it possible an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that unless God builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.'”
Turning to the class on stage he said, “You have shown this, exemplified this, to us tonight in such a wonderful way.”Kudos also to Congressman Louie Gohmert and Texas State Rep Bryan Hughes, two perennial favorites of Cahnman's Musings!!!