Several public schools in Portland, Oregon have banned choirs from performing in an annual Christmas festival after complaints were filed by an atheist group.
The Blaze reports that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Lane Middle School and Grant, Wilson, Lincoln, and Cleveland High Schools, complaining that it was unconstitutional for public schools to promote Christian events.
Choirs made up of students from area schools always perform in the Christmas Festival of Lights, which calls itself “the largest Christmas choral festival in the world” and is put on by the Grotto, a Catholic shrine.
The FFRF’s co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor stated, “Just because it’s a tradition doesn’t mean it’s legal. Whole generations of students in Portland are being sent the message that it’s fine for public schools to promote Catholic events.”
The school district complied with the FFRF’s demands to ban the choirs, fearing legal action.
“It was a sad decision for us to make and it was a hard decision,” Portland Public Schools spokeswoman Christine Miles said. “If we know there is a legal risk and we don’t do anything, then that’s not the right thing to do.”
Publication date: October 9, 2015