Another victory for the bitter, angry atheists who have somehow interpreted the First Amendment as a complete and total ban on all religious expression.
Even by third graders.
Everyone’s least favorite modern-day Grinch (or Ebenezer Scrooge, take your pick), the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has set their sights on an elementary school live nativity scene, claiming it is a “constitutional violation” and that such a display violates the Establishment Clause.
Breitbart reports that FFRF staff attorney Christopher Line wrote to F. Andrew Fugitt at the Center for Education Law with his accusations:
A concerned Edmond Public Schools community member has reported that each year, third grade teachers at Chisholm Elementary have students rehearse a live nativity scene, which students then perform at the school’s holiday concert in December. We understand that Chisholm students who participate in the nativity play various roles, including Mary and Joseph, etc.
While a public school can hold holiday concerts, religious performances and instruction that emphasize the religious aspects of a holiday are prohibited … A live nativity performance celebrating the story of Jesus’s birth is precisely the sort of religious endorsement prohibited by the Establishment Clause.
Line insisted that the school district “ensure that future school-sponsored performances will not include nativity scenes and that District teachers will not promote religion through class assignments.”
He added his expectation to hear a response to his letter from the school district, in writing, with an outline of the steps they will be taking to demonstrate their submission to the bullies at the FFRF.
Enter Liberty Counsel.
They responded with a letter to Bret Towne, the superintendent of Edmond Public Schools, assuring him that “a live Nativity scene as part of a balanced Christmas program is not an automatic Establishment Clause violation.”
After all, I don’t exactly see the US Congress forcing Muslim children to participate in the live nativity scene, the only fantastical situation in which the school district would have, in fact, been violating the Establishment Clause.
Liberty Counsel pointed out that, in the case of Freedom From Religion Found., Inc. v. Concord Cmty. Sch., the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals stated:
Let us first start with the most inherently religious aspect of the show: the nativity scene. We are not prepared to say that a nativity scene in a school performance automatically constitutes an Establishment Clause violation. See Doe v. Wilson Cnty. Sch. Sys., 564 F.Supp.2d 766, 800–01 (M.D. Tenn. 2008) (finding a two-minute nativity scene in a 22-minute program acceptable because it “presented in a prudent, unbiased, and objective manner” “the traditional historical, cultural, and religious meaning of the holiday in America”). Each show must be assessed within its own context.
Although we have gotten quite used to public school districts caving to these sorts of threats from atheists groups to avoid the costly legal battle it would take to defend the constitutional display of religious expression, as the Liberty Counsel informed Towne, they “stands ready … to provide assistance at no charge to Edmond Public Schools, if the District desires to resume a live Nativity in a school Christmas program.”
This is why we <3 the Liberty Counsel!
Mat Staver, chairman of the legal non-profit, said in a statement that FFRF “continually bullies and threatens people every Christmas, and that includes even children.”
“This organization mocks Christianity and does not seem to know what the Constitution means,” he added. “I hope this school district will not cave to their threats and continues to allow these children to celebrate Christ’s birth in their school production.”
Amen to that. This myth that the Establishment Cause prevents any public institution from ever expressing even a whiff of praise for the God in whom our founding fathers trusted (after all, it’s our national motto!) needs to die.
When we’re at the point where elementary school children are being bullied into sanitizing a Christmas program from mentioning the birth of the Christ for which the holiday is named, you know we have reached peak atheist temper tantrum.
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