- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A high school student club in Fairfax County plans to show on campus today the new movie “The Nativity Story,” which tells the biblical story of Joseph, Mary and the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria is sponsoring the free event, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the school’s theater.

“Since we’re a growing club, I thought this event would be good for our kids,” FCA faculty sponsor Richard Ruelas said yesterday. “They’re going to be serving in this way and hosting the event for anyone who wants to come watch. It’s been mostly the kids; they’ve planned it.”

The 19-member club hopes to fill out the 500-seat theater with community and school members, as well as local church youth groups and FCA clubs from other schools.

“We’re hoping and keeping our fingers crossed,” Mr. Ruelas said.

Mr. Ruelas reported no resistance or complaints about tonight’s event.

“They are open to all religions in this high school,” he said. “People have been very open-minded.”

Paul Regnier, coordinator of community relations for Fairfax County Public Schools, said the club went through the community-use process to reserve the theater for the evening showing and was allowed to advertise for the event “like any other club like this could.”

“The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a club,” Mr. Regnier said. “The school doesn’t endorse one club or another. Obviously, they have to abide by the school rules … . It’s not a school function; it’s this particular club’s function.”

Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, agreed, saying that as long as the school isn’t sponsoring the event, student religious groups are allowed to hold regular meetings and special programs with religious content.

“As long as the school isn’t using some exceptional means to promote it, and if the school is allowing the promotion the same way as any other event, it’s perfectly fine to do so,” Mr. Willis said.

FCA is the largest Christian sports organization in the United States and reaches out to athletes and coaches through Bible studies and community service.

“The Nativity Story” opens in movie theaters nationwide tomorrow.

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