Religious freedom is under attack at every turn. And where we choose to stand up, we are winning the battle. At Corning Union High School, students stood up for their right to share their faith during a fine arts festival put on by the school.
The BREAD Club of Corning High wanted to perform a human video depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ during the school’s 15th Annual Fine Arts Festival. (See Story Here)
The controversy erupted after the club presented a dramatic presentation during the tryouts for the festival. CHS Principal Bruce Cole said afterward he was concerned about the subject content because it depicted the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a graphic way.
Cole told the group that the performance had been disqualified because the end of the play stressed the importance of others taking on religious beliefs, which could be taken as proselytizing. He said that would not be appropriate for a public school setting before a captive audience.
The great news is that the students, local pastors and the community as a whole rallied around these students. And together, they won a great victory for religious freedom. But I think it is important to note a few details about this matter for future consideration.
First of all, this was NOT a case of an “anti-God” public school administrator trying to silence Christians. Mr. Cole was simply acting out of ignorance. Ignorance of an area of law of which, most us have little understanding. This was an opportunity for him, the school board and the community to develop a better understanding of their rights in respect to expressing their religious believes.
And Secondly, this school board was looking for a way to allow the students exercise their free speech rights, while at the same time, not opening the school district up to a lawsuit. This just goes to demonstrate the complex situation that many who work in the public school system must face. But in the end, all that was needed for the principle and the school board to make the right decision was the right information. I take my hat off to them for choosing to protect the rights of their students.
I also believe that honor is due to the students, pastors and community members who stood up and had their voices heard; because there were others (including Christians) who did not want them to fight for their rights.
Brad Martin of Corning, however, warned those fighting for their rights that the consequences may equal them winning a battle but losing a war.
“The process of threatening the school, in and of itself, has already created a defensive posture towards the message that Christians are attempting to bring to the school,” Martin said. “You may win the right to make a presentation, but to an empty auditorium, in as much as no one will want to hear the message of the presentation.”
My message to Mr. Martin and those who think that we should not stand up for our rights is a quote by Edmund Burke:
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.”
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