(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)
"We just can't allow any religious songs," says the director of the North Port Boys & Girls Club.
An 8-year-old girl was banned from singing the campfire favorite Kum Ba Yah after talent show organizers said it violated their ban on religious songs because it repeats the word "Lord."
Samantha Schultz practiced the song for a week but was banned from singing it Friday at the North Port Boys & Girls Club talent show.
Bill Sadlo, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County, said he worried parents would complain if children went home and said they heard a religious song at the non-sectarian camp.
"We don't want to take the chance of a child offending another child's religion," Sadlo said.
But Samantha's relatives were outraged. They said club officials should have told her in advance that she could not sing the song, rather than let her build up her hopes that she would perform.
"It's a crock!" said Pam Schultz, Samantha's mother. "I learned that song in Girl Scouts, not in church. . . . It's a campfire song, for goodness sakes.
"Samantha is an extremely shy girl," Schultz said. "After she learned she couldn't sing the song, the expression on her face."
Sadlo agreed the staff should have informed the girl earlier that she could not perform the song, but said there was some communication problem. He apologized to the family and said that Samantha should have been encouraged to sing a different song.
"We just can't allow any religious songs," said Randy Bouck, the local club's director. "You have to check your religion at the door."