Thursday, November 30, 2006

Va. Public Schools OK With "Nativity Story"

By Rick Pearcey

CNSNews reports there's "No Fuss as Schools Prepare to Screen Nativity Movie."

“As religious groups continue to react to the exclusion of a Bible-based movie from a Chicago Christmas festival, Christian activists in Virginia are meeting no resistance as they move ahead with plans to screen the film in public school facilities," reports staff writer Nathan Burchfiel.

"Not only are the schools presenting no difficulties, but organizations traditionally hostile to the use of public property for religious purposes are also unfazed.

"Mount Vernon High School in Fairfax County, Va., is scheduled to host a screening of the "The Nativity Story" Thursday night [Nov. 30], the day before its nationwide release. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, also in Fairfax County, will host a screening Friday night.

"Both showings are sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a non-profit group that supports Christian clubs on high school campuses across the United States. The screenings are free and open to the public.

"The film, which is being released by New Line Cinema on Dec. 1, presents the biblical account of the birth of Jesus Christ. City officials in Chicago angered Christian activists this week when they acknowledged they had asked organizers of an annual Christmas festival -- the German Christkindlmarket -- to reject sponsorship money from the studio." ...

"Organizers in Virginia report no opposition to the planned screening of the film, even though public facilities will be used."

"Jay Ruelas, an assistant soccer coach at Mount Vernon and one of the faculty sponsors of the FCA club there, told Cybercast News Service he had experienced "no resistance" from inside or outside the school system. Administrators, including Principal Nardos King, had been "more than helpful."

What the apparently unfazed are saying:

* Americans United: "Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the group didn't have any objection to 'voluntary events sponsored by outside organizations.'"

* Center for Inquiry: "Tom Flynn of the secularist Center for Inquiry said there was no law that would allow schools to reject the screenings, even though he felt the current laws were 'probably more lenient in this situation than is probably ideal.'" ...

* ACLU: "ACLU Virginia spokesman Kent Willis said the screenings were 'perfectly acceptable' as long as the schools were not sponsoring the event, they were not mandatory, and the Christian group was not getting any special treatment other student organizations would be unable to get."

Comment: What about the 1st Amendment, which says Congress "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"?

If we pay attention to the wording, we see that the emphasis in the 1st Amendment is on Congress. The Founders were worried about Congress, not about Christians.

Now The Nativity Story is a film, not a law passed by Congress. And, clearly, neither the public schools, New Line Cinema, nor viewers are Congress, and none of them is passing a law respecting an establishment of religion.

Furthermore, viewing The Nativity Story in the public schools does not establish a national denominational state church of the United States of America.

That is, viewing The Nativity Story in the public schools does not set up an ecclessiastical establishment, say, of the Anglicans (or Baptists or Presbyterians, etc.), as the state authority ruling over the federal government of the United States.

Thus, there should be no 1st Amendment-based concern about airing this film across the land, in or out of the public schools.

The 1st Amendment does forbid Congress from making a law "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion.

Congress has no business trying to regulate the expression of Christianity by the free and independent citizenry of the United States. This includes independent-minded, free-thinking Christians who set up Nativities in public spaces, who set up displays of the 10 Commandments at court houses, and so on.

Because human beings are persons who seek to actualize their inner lives, they always try to enflesh their worldviews out into their surroundings (even if their worldviews are inadequate descriptions of reality). Therefore secularists will continue their efforts to reshape American society along secular lines.

Ideologically, theirs is a struggle that crashes against not only the plain text of the Constitution (which continues to have a living impact precisely because its meaning is fixed), but also against human nature as made in the image of God and not the cosmos and not the state.

They struggle also against the Creator himself, who confounded corrupt political and religious authorities some 2,ooo years ago in an earthy place called Bethlehem. Those powers tried to keep the first Nativity from becoming a fact. Or at least a fact that lived very long.

And now a film about the fact is being welcomed in public schools in a country originally founded upon the fact. This is one of many reasons so-called free-thinkers might want to reconsider their faith in secularism.

Note: The entire CNSNews report is here.

Rick Pearcey is editor and publisher of The Pearcey Report.