An atheist organization is threatening an expensive lawsuit unless an Indiana school district blocks students from holding a Christmas concert during the Christmas season.
The anti-religion Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) made the threat in a letter to Concord Community School’s superintendent John Trout, and described Concord High School’s traditional annual holiday concert as “illegal” and “inappropriate,” says a report in The Elkhart Truth.
“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,” states the letter from FFRF attorney Sam Grover. “The performance has a clearly devotional message and thus would be appropriate in a church setting, but not in a public school.”
“We expect a written assurance that this violation will not recur in 2015 or future years,” Grover added. “Please respond at your earliest convenience, so that we may notify our complainant that this matter has been resolved.”
The legal threat is powerful because many Democratic-backed judges willingly bar Christianity from wherever the government expands its services, funding and oversight. This anti-Christian discrimination is the flip-side of the judges’ endorsement of anti-Christian progressive ideologies, such as sexual liberty, secularism, diversity and environmentalism.
If the anti-religion group wins the lawsuit, the school must pay the group’s lawyers and also block students’ free speech.
Since the 1960s, the expanding federal government has created many new walls against religious groups’ freedom of religion, despite the constitution’s first amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.”
In Concord, the annual “Christmas Spectacular” show includes mostly secular acts related to the year-end festivities. However, during the last 15 minutes of the production, religious characters arrive on the stage and a “Nativity Orchestra” performs Christmas carols with a religious theme, such as “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.”
“In this case, the violation is pretty clear,” Grover said, according to the news report. School officials can’t contribute to “celebrating the religious aspects… The school district cannot promote Christianity above other religions. It’s a pretty clear-cut violation in that sense, and we hope the district acknowledges that.”
Instead of its current “Christmas Spectacular,” Grover said the school district will can pay for to secular winter-themed concert around the themes of “secular values like family, giving and community.”
The letter from FFRF cites case law that reportedly states schools are not permitted to sponsor any religious messages because these create “insiders” and “outsiders.”
On Tuesday, school official Trout released this response:
Recently, Concord Community Schools received a letter from the Madison, Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation questioning an aspect of one of the high school music department’s performances. As in past dealings with Concord Schools, that foundation provided copies of its letter to the local media before school administrators were able to review the letter. It is a long standing practice of Concord Schools to not publicly comment on concerns, valid or invalid, initially raised by students, parents, or patrons to the media instead of first addressing them with school administrators. Rest assured that Concord Schools routinely reviews all of its programs, curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular, to ensure not only compliance with legal and financial standards, but also the educational goals of the school corporation. Consistent with its past practice, Concord Schools will have no further public comment concerning the letter received from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
As Breitbart News previously reported, FFRF’s Wisconsin affiliate sued the government in July, demanding that the World War II memorial known as “Big Mountain Jesus” be removed from a Montana ski slope on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
In August, FFRF threatened a lawsuit against the Chanute, Kansas, school district for its copy of a famous painting of Jesus that has hung on a middle school wall since 1965. FFRF called the painting an “egregious violation of the First Amendment,” and warned the district superintendent that a similar situation in Ohio left the school district with $95,000 in legal fees after settling the case.
In March of 2012, the FFRF also placed an anti-Catholic ad that was then published by the New York Times. The ad, which criticized the Catholic Church’s position against Obamacare’s HHS mandate, stated, “It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages?”
The ad accused the Catholic Church of promoting “acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, overpopulation, social evils and deaths.”
In an appeal to Catholic women, the ad asked, “Apparently, you’re like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go.”
Another lawsuit by FFRF includes one against the Clemson football program because of prayers and Bible studies instituted by the team.
Despite FFRF’s relatively small annual budget of about $3 million and little more than 22,000 members, it manages to work its will around school districts that have fixed budgets and would rather just agree to the foundation’s terms than spend thousands of dollars on defending religious freedom.
FFRF’s website states its mission is “protecting the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church.”