The Freedom From Religion Foundation of Wisconsin sent a letter on December 18th requesting that the Chambersburg (PA) Area School District cancel two performances of “The Song of Christmas” at a local high school. The letter claims the performance violates the U.S. Constitutional statutes of separation of Church and State. The FFRF has requested that all future performances of the work be banned as well. According to local media the school glee club has been performing the work each holiday season for about six decades. The program, first made famous by Fred Waring and the The Pennsylvanians in a radio broadcast aired in 1945, tells the story of the Nativity through compiled arrangements of Christmas carols and traditional holiday songs.
The FFRF, who claims a local resident who is a member of FFRF contacted them to complain about the work, justified its action because the performance compels students to participate in a live nativity. Supporters of the school opposing the FFRF say they will fight the complaint based upon the elective nature of the Glee Club and that it is not required as part of core state curriculum.
It was not reported whether or not legal action was threatened. However, given the vocal and public push back already demonstrated by parents, students and local supporters of the school it is customary for the FFRF to issue a follow-up letter threatening legal action. In most cases, school boards and communities are forced to weigh the cost of defense against the tradition of the school.