Atheist Group Forces Public School to Cancel its Live Nativity Scene from Christmas Concert
An Oklahoma elementary school has cancelled its live nativity scene from its annual Christmas concert after an atheist group sent a threatening letter demanding the school put an end to the ritual.
Breitbart reports that an attorney at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote to the Center for Education Law, complaining that the school district’s nativity scene was a “constitutional violation.”
FFRF attorney Christopher Line wrote:
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 wanted this school district to “ensure that future school-sponsored performances will not include nativity scenes and that District teachers will not promote religion through class assignments.”
After Line’s letter, district officials cancelled the nativity scene.
“After a thorough examination of the content of this year’s program, discussions with Chisholm administrators and parents, and on advice from counsel, changes were made to ensure the program’s content celebrates and respects the religious practices, customs, and traditions of the season while meeting the current legal standards,” district officials told KOCO 5.
Oklahoma’s News9 wrote that parents would not appear on camera to discuss the nativity scene cancellation, however, many were vocal on social media.
“We cannot let one or two individuals deny these opportunities for our precious kiddos,” one parent wrote.
Another said, “This is heartbreaking.”
According to Breitbart, “Non-profit litigation organization Liberty Counsel, however, sent a letter to Bret Towne, superintendent of Edmond Public Schools, reassuring him that ‘a live Nativity scene as part of a balanced Christmas program is not an automatic Establishment Clause violation.’”
Fortunately, the Liberty Counsel is willing to fight on behalf of Edmond Public Schools and informed Town the organization “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.”
Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver, blasted FFRF in a statement, claiming the atheist organization “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.”