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High School In Elkhart Can't Perform Live Nativity Scene

A holiday tradition in Elkhart appears to be ending for now, thanks to a judge's ruling.

U.S. District Judge Jon DeGuilio ruled that Concord High School could not present a live nativity scene as part of it's annual Christmas Spectacular until he hears a lawsuit that was filed to stop it.

The judge's initial conference for the lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the ACLU on behalf of a Concord student and parent isn't scheduled until January 7, but the first performance of the Christmas Spectacular was scheduled to take place on December 11.

The lawsuit alleges the nativity, which has been part of the Christmas Spectacular for decades, violated the Constitution since it presents an overtly religious program on public school property.

Concord had made some modifications to the program, including readings on Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but the FFRF said in a court filing last month that the changes did not go far enough.

“That does not change the fundamental fact that a public school may not perform a living Nativity ... for its students, its faculty members and members of the public,“ the court filing said.

FFRF said the presentations on Judaism and Kwanzaa lasted only a few minutes, while the nativity still comprised 15-20 minutes of the program.

The preliminary injunction granted by Judge DeGuilio bars Concord students and faculty from rehearsing or presenting a nativity scene involving live performers during this year's Christmas Spectacular pending a final ruling in the case.

Last month, the judge ruled that the student and parent represented by the FFRF and ACLU could remain anonymous - they are known as Jack and John Doe in court filings.

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