- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A North Carolina school district has barred school choirs from the tradition of singing Christmas carols at an annual nativity celebration following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Wisconsin-based nonprofit said it was unconstitutional for Wake County school choirs to perform at the annual Apex Christmas Nativity Celebration because of its Christian theme.

According to the website, the church-sponsored event is a three-day “celebration of the birth and ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The Wake County Public School System capitulated to the FFRF’s demands, barring student choirs from further participation in the celebration, The News & Observer reported Tuesday.

“The advice of Tharrington Smith (the district’s attorney) is that it put the district in the position of potentially endorsing a religious viewpoint,” Tim Simmons, a Wake schools spokesman, told the newspaper.

Mr. Simmons said students can participate as individuals at any nativity event, just not as a school-sanctioned group.

“No one was particularly happy with the outcome of this,” he said. “Some schools had been participating for several years.”

The FFRF, which says it is “dedicated to the separation of state and church,” cheered the decision.

“It’s great that officials finally realized the dubiousness of school attendance at such an obviously religious ceremony,” Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement. “It was unacceptable that public school choirs were performing at this function. It’s unfortunate, though, that the district ‘regrets’ enforcing good law.” -

Hiram Sasser, deputy chief counsel of the First Liberty Institute, accused the FFRF of bullying, Fox News reported.

“If FFRF’s brand of religious hostility was so attractive, they wouldn’t have to bully people into submission,” he said.

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