Worldly: Albemarle County teacher deletes “God” lyric from “We Are The World”

By Rob Schilling, host of “The Schilling Show” on WINA Charlottesville

Within weeks of a national scandal at Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham, Massachusetts—where an overzealous government school official removed “God” from Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”—a local teacher has performed her own secular exorcism on another popular song.

For an upcoming 4th and 5th grade performance at Albemarle County’s Broadus Wood Elementary School in central Virginia, music teacher, Jean Flaherty, has altered a key line from the 1985 Michael Jackson / Lionel Richie composition, “We Are The World.” In an effort to avoid offending non-believers, Flaherty overtly removed lyrical reference to “God.”

The second half of the first verse, as composed by Jackson and Richie, reads:

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We are all a part of God’s great big family
And the truth, you know, Love is all we need
[emphasis added]

Flaherty’s edited version changed the third line:

We are all a part of one great big family
[emphasis added]

Seeking to further shelter her students from Biblical assault, Flaherty made an additional exchange. In a semblant reference to Matthew 4:3, wherein the devil asks Jesus to prove his divinity by turning stone to bread (Jesus did not succumb), the original lyric for verse three, says:

Send them your heart so they’ll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stones to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand
[emphasis added]

Unable or unwilling to subtly alter this (somewhat convoluted) Biblical reference, Ms. Flaherty substituted a god-less verse re-written for We Are The World 25 For Haiti:

Send them your heart so they’ll know that someone cares
So their cries for help will not be in vain
We can’t let them suffer; no we cannot turn away
Right now, they need a helping hand

[emphasis added]

While instructor Flaherty reportedly has told concerned, inquiring parents that their kids are allowed to sing “God” in the modified verse if they so choose, the official lyric sheet does not reflect such an option. And, due to social/peer pressures extant in modern-day government schools, few children are likely to deviate from the rehearsed and distributed lyric in order to vocalize “God” over the suggested “one.”

Lost in the shuffle to shutter references to the Creator are the kids who actually believe that they are children of God, and for whom such blatant redaction, is itself, highly offensive.

There are many god-free alternatives that Ms. Flaherty could have chosen to emphasize the commonality of man, but in selecting a song that was too “offensive” to sing publicly without substantive modification, Flaherty has proven herself utterly tone-deaf to the sensibilities and presentiments of America’s vocal religious remnant.

Full revised lyrics as posted on Ms. Flaherty’s Music Class “homework” page:

There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on
Pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We are all a part of
one great big family
And the truth, you know love is all we need

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart
So they’ll know that someone cares
So their cries for help
Will not be in vain

We can’t let them suffer
No we cannot turn away
Right now, they need a helping hand

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me

When you’re down and out
There seems no hope at all
But if you just believe
There’s no way we can fall
Well, let us realize
That a change can only come
When we, stand together as one

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me

(repeat)

We all need somebody that we can lean on
When you wake up look around and see that your dreams gone
When the earth quakes we’ll help you make it through the storm
When the floor breaks a magic carpet to stand on
We are the World united by love so strong
When the radio isn’t on you can hear the songs
A guided light on the dark road you’re walking on
A sign post to find the dreams you thought was gone
Someone to help you move the obstacles you stumbled on
Someone to help you rebuild after the rubble’s gone
We are the World connected by a common bond
Love- the whole planet sing it along

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we make a better day
Just you and me

Listen to We Are The World(ly), as envisioned by Jean Flaherty: