Centerville Elementary School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, canceled a play called "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens after receiving complaints from parents over a line which says, "God bless us, everyone."
The school has been hosting the play annually for over 40 years.
The classic line, "God bless us, everyone," was character Tiny Tim's line, and was apparently offensive to two parents.
"I was very surprised because it's going on for decades, and it's a tradition at the school that everyone looks forward to," local resident Jane Burkhart told TV station WHTM.
Principal Tom Kramer said that one of the factors behind the decision to cancel the play was a "desire to be respectful of the many cultural and religious backgrounds," but he maintained that the real reason was excess of instructional time taken by preparation of the play which interfered with studies.
"This decision was made based primarily on instructional opportunities for students. Producing and performing a play is not part of the written curriculum for fifth grade," Kramer said. "Over the years, preparations had evolved to take 15 to 20 hours of instructional (educational) time to produce this play. Given changes in state standards in recent years, we could not defend the commitment of this kind of instructional time to something not part of the fifth grade curriculum."
He further said it was a rumor that involvement of "one or two parents" influenced the school's decision to cancel the play.
"I hate to see traditions taken away in my own community," said Randy Wenger, chief counsel for the Independence Law Center, told Charisma News. "What does this communicate to our kids? It says that anything religious is really not appropriate in public life. It's something you're supposed to keep to yourself."