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Concord High School nativity scene denied by judge

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -

This year, there will be no nativity scene at the Concord High School Christmas Spectacular. 

Wednesday, a federal judge prohibited the school from including the scene, which the court says promotes Christianity. 

In the community, reaction to the decision has been mixed.

“I certainly have anticipated this type of battle coming our way,” Stu Boswell, who supports the nativity scene, said. 

It’s a legal battle, between an anonymous student and Concord Community Schools.

“I was initially at work when I heard the news and was  basically was just very much disappointed that the injunction has been granted from the federal judge,” Boswell said. 

The injunction is a major development in the case of the student suing his school for what he says is a first amendment violation.

“This has been a tradition for almost 40 years,” Boswell said. 

The tradition of the scene is treasured by many community members, but at the same time the fact that it’s gone on so long is troubling to others.

“It’s a very egregious, shocking and illegal performance where they corral public school students to put on a live depiction of the Christmas Christian nativity,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said.

The student is being represented by Freedom From Religion Foundation.

“What about the Jewish children? What about the atheist children?” Gaylor said. 

While the school has recently added Chanukah and Kwanza portions to the show, the nativity scene is by far the longest segment.

“It goes on for at least 20 minutes,” Gaylor said. 

The judge says with the nativity scene being so prominent, it favors and promotes Christianity. 

“The government and public schools cannot take sides on religion,” Gaylor said. 

The Concord Community Schools Superintendent John Trout issued the following statement after learning of the judge’s decision:

"Concord Community Schools is disappointed in the decision rendered today by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.  The Concord High School music department is working overtime to insure that this year’s Christmas Spectacular performance complies with the Court’s order.  Additionally, Concord Community Schools is presently researching the possible appeal of the Court’s preliminary injunction.  A decision on whether to take that step will be made in the next few days."

A Pretrial Conference concerning this case is scheduled for January 7, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. in South Bend before Magistrate Judge Christopher Nuechterlein.

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