Atheists demanded that a North Carolina school district prevent student performers from taking part in a nativity-themed event, but officials have reportedly ignored those requests.
Despite the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s request that the Wake County school system in Raleigh, North Carolina, ban students from performing at the “Raleigh Community Christmas Celebration,” the district did not comply, The News & Observer reported.
According to the outlet, the event was held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in recent days and included nativity displays and Christmas carols that ranged from secular to faith-based in nature, including “Jingle Bells” and “Away in a Manger.”
In the end, nine choirs and orchestras participated.
The refusal to comply with the atheist activist group is especially intriguing due to the fact that the district reportedly did pull out of a separate Christmas event last year at the FFRF’s urging, according to The News & Observer.
But a spokesman for the district said that this year’s event was far less religious than last, which accounted for the change.
“These are all case-by-case decisions,” district representative Tim Simmons said. “It’s the Establishment Clause. You’re taking criteria and applying it to each situation.”
The FFRF doesn’t agree, though, with attorney Patrick Elliott saying that he doesn’t see a difference between last year and this year’s event, nor does he believe they are legal.
In fact, Elliot and the FFRF said that students would reasonably see the event as an endorsement of religion.
“This event is unconstitutional,” he said. “There is no way that a public school can participate in a church event which has as its focus a nativity scene.”
The FFRF is now working to pressure the district not to allow these sorts of performances in the future.