Last week, I posted about Concord High School in Indiana, where the holiday concert includes a full-blown Nativity Play:
You can even watch it happen on YouTube (1:20:09):
The Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter to the District last week warning them against doing it again this year:
It is illegal for a public school to endorse religion to students by organizing a religious performance, such as acting out the exclusively Christian legend of Jesus’s birth. The performance has a clearly devotional message and thus would be appropriate in a church setting, but not in a public school…
Centering the high school’s holiday concert around the nativity is illegal even if participation in the nativity scene is voluntary…
The simple solution is for Concord Community Schools to devise a winter concert centered around secular values like family, giving, and community, rather than focusing on the religious aspects of one specific holiday.
Last night, at a School Board meeting, the room was packed with Nativity defenders who gave the usual Christian response for why they should keep the nativity scene in the show: Because Jesus!
“When you get to the part of the Nativity scene, it is the true historical part of what Christmas is, and that is celebrated in the United States of America,” said Elkhart resident Robyn Radford. “He came and he changed history. It’s a fact. If you take that away, you have taken out the only educational portion of this program … if you take that away, you are left with snow.”
A virgin birth is a fact, y’all.
And if that’s supposed to be the only educational aspect of this concert, maybe the District should reconsider who runs the high school’s music department.
There was at least one person who spoke against the nativity… but he wasn’t there in person because he didn’t want to deal with the wrath of angry Christians:
Ryan Mullet of South Bend read the board a statement on behalf of a friend he says is opposed to having the Nativity scene as part of the Christmas Spectacular and didn’t feel safe attending the meeting to voice an opposing view.
“I am afraid of the consequences of going against the Christians in our community. I am afraid that my Concord student will be retaliated against by the Christians in our community,” Mullet read.
“The bottom line is the Nativity scene in a public school is a government endorsement of a religion (and) that has been deemed unconstitutional time and again,” he also read.
What’s appalling is that the Superintendent expressed support of the nativity scene, suggesting it would stay in the show:
District Superintendent John Trout read his prepared statement.
“For more than 30 years, the Spectacular has been an important part of the Concord High School holiday experience. It will continue to do so,” Trout said, adding that Concord Schools would not engage in a public media fight.
He also noted that participation in the Nativity scene is voluntary and the scene is rehearsed after school, and stated that this scene provides historical context to the holiday season.
The Superintendent hasn’t issued a formal response to FFRF, so it’s unclear if he was just trying to placate the audience or he really is dumb enough to continue the illegal portion of the program and invite a lawsuit.
It’s irrelevant if participation in the Nativity scene is voluntary or if the rehearsals take place after school. If it’s a part of the show, it’s an endorsement by the school. Period. No other religion gets that much air time during the program, and there’s no secular purpose for including the birth of Christ (and no other religious belief) in a holiday program.
FFRF attorney Sam Grover said he would write another warning letter to the District soon, hoping to settle this without a lawsuit if possible. But if District leaders remain as stubborn as they were last night, they will be sued. That Nativity scene won’t last no matter how many ignorant residents want to keep it.
Maybe someone should tell them about a place called church, where they can perform this play all the time.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)