A judge in Indiana has halted a public high school's nativity scene during its Christmas program.
Concord Community Schools will not be allowed to include the historical account of Christ's birth during the high school's annual "Christmas Spectacular."
Attorney Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel says courts have ruled that a public school can present religious material if secular material is presented as well.
"In this particular case, the live nativity scene is part of the presentation," Staver says. "But it's only a portion of the overall presentation, which includes a lot of other kinds of, frankly, secular components of Christmas and the holiday season."
USA Today reports, however, that U.S. District Judge Jon E. Deguilio granted a preliminary injunction, writing in his order that the show "conveys a message of endorsement of religion, or that a particular religious belief is favored or preferred."
The ACLU filed suit on behalf of a Concord student and his father who want the "Christmas Spectacular" to remain secular.
The court filing includes a song-by-song account of the 90-minute program, including at the end when students, re-eneacting the Navity, "stand still and remain in that position for the final twelve minutes of the show, until its conclusion."
The ACLU and atheist groups hammer away at Christmas events every year, attacking public schools, city halls, and public parks. Their claim is that Mary and Joseph, the angels, and Christ's birth violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which bans governments from endorsing religion.
The federal judge agreed that, if the case moves forward, the plaintiffs would likely be able to prove a violation of the Establishment Clause.
An atheist called the school's live nativity a "shocking violation" to find at a public school setting, the USA Today story reported.
Court documents, included in the news story, show that the high school responded to complaints by dropping a biblical reading from the program and adding references to Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to the event.
But the atheists aren't just unhappy with spiritual themes. OneNewsNow has documented in recent weeks how secular symbols such as Christmas trees and Santa Claus are being banned, and use of the word "Christmas" itself makes some people uncomfortable.