U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

High School's 'Christmas Spectacular' Show Can Go On

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is sure to be spreading joy and cheer in this most wonderful time of the year. A three judge panel just ruled that Concord High School's Christmas Spectacular is not unconstitutional.

The high school's performance had gone on for over four decades before anyone objected. Surprisingly, when an organization that advocates for the separation of church and state objected, the school actually changed the play. However, the group did not believe the changes were adequate and filed a lawsuit and won. In response, the school changed the play even more, and then put the new version on, prompting a new lawsuit from the same group.

A Win for New Traditions

The courts found that the new version of the play, which has now been performed three times, did not violate the constitution. The prior version contained a live-action nativity scene, a Bible reading, and other rather religious parts. The new version of the play toned down the more religious parts, removed the Bible reading, and toned down the nativity to not use live student actors, but rather manikins. Additionally, the new version added more secular elements, as well as included a song about Hanukkah and another song about Kwanzaa.

Spectacular Vernacular

As commentators note, the Seventh Circuit did not waste their opportunity to showcase their own spectacular vernacular. Notable quotes (some of which Concord High School will probably use for years to come in promotions) include:

  • The parties put us in the uncomfortable role of Grinch, examining the details of an impressive high school production. But we accept this position, because we live in a society where all religions are welcome.
  • Concord's production is extraordinary: it involves about 600 students and puts the lie to those who suggest that arts and music are not important parts of a high school program.

Related Resources: