Public School Sued For Keeping Jesus & Mary In Christmas Play

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.
A high school in Elkhart, IN, is facing a lawsuit over a Christmas tradition — a nativity scene in its annual Christmas pageant. The suit by a student and his dad says that the Christian imagery in the scene is promoting religion, which is against the law in a public school.

"Incorporating a live nativity scene and scriptural reading into a public school concert clearly violates the law," Heather Weaver, an ACLU senior staff attorney, told Refinery29. The suit was filed by the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of the student and parent.

The Concord Community Schools' pageant has been part of school tradition for decades. It ends with a reading from the Bible and includes biblical figures such as Mary and Jesus.

"While public schools may recognize and celebrate the secular aspects of winter holidays, they may not endorse or promote religious beliefs and they may not use school functions to coercively subject students to religious messages and proselytizing," Weaver said.

Before suing, the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to the school this August requesting all religious elements be removed from the Christmas Spectacular. However, the school board decided to keep the nativity scene in the pageant. The school did not immediately return requests for comment.

The student and his dad aren't suing for the money — they've asked only for their legal fees to be repaid and for a dollar apiece.

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