The Freedom From Religion Foundation continues to object to the annual production of a live nativity at the Concord High School holiday concert, over the school's claims that the performance of Jesus's birth is simply "historical."
FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover wrote Concord Community Schools a complaint letter on Aug. 25 after a member of the community alerted FFRF to the nativity. "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," he said.
"America is not a Christian nation, Elkhart County is not a Christian County and Concord Community Schools is most assuredly not a Christian school. It serves parents and children of no religious persuasion and diverse religious views," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "We are all in favor of music and performances in our public schools, but it is illegal for the schools to invite students to take part in or be in the audience of a school concert that involves a nativity display — much less a live nativity made up of students!"
Superintendent John Trout insisted that the nativity is voluntary and only rehearsed after school. Courts have rejected arguments that voluntariness excuses a constitutional violation, FFRF points out. "Schools should not be putting on events in which students would feel compelled to absent themselves due to inappropriate religious content such as the 'Christmas Spectacular,' " Gaylor said.
In addition, even if the nativity is rehearsed after school, it is still facilitated by the school and included in an official school performance. As T-shirts being sold by supporters note: "The nativity is a biblical story." This performance belongs in a church, not in our public schools, says FFRF.
Concord students or parents of students who are offended by this illegal display should contact FFRF if they are interested in anonymously pursuing a legal challenge.
FFRF is a nonprofit state/church watchdog with more than 23,000 members nationwide, including more than 350 in Indiana.