Thursday, December 03, 2015

Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Against School Show's Live Nativity Depiction

In Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Concord Community Schools, (ND IN, Dec. 2, 2015), an Indiana federal district court granted a preliminary injunction barring an Indiana school district from presenting its traditional live nativity scene as part of this year's school Christmas Spectacular show. The court said in part:
a reasonable observer would fairly believe that the portrayal of the living nativity scene, when viewed in the particular context, circumstances, and history of the Christmas Spectacular, conveys a message of endorsement of religion, or that a particular religious belief is favored or preferred.
The court held that the school's insertion, in response to the filing of this lawsuit, of short segments on Hanukkah and Kwanzaa did not cure the Establishment Clause problem:
the way in which Chanukah and Kwanzaa are being presented in the show in comparison to the Christmas portion in general and the nativity scene in particular actually serves to place greater emphasis on and suggest greater preference of the religious message conveyed by the nativity scene.
In its press release on the decision, FFRF says it continues to prepare for trial on the merits since the preliminary injunction applies only to this year's show.

UPDATE:  The Dec. 12 Goshen News reports that the school stayed in technical compliance with the preliminary injunction by featuring a static nativity scene using mannequins, in place of the enjoined live performance.