On Tuesday, following a complaint from an unidentified person, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) sent a demand letter to Tuscaloosa City Schools and Paul W. Bryant High School, asking that all teachers be told not to show the film, Facing the Giants. Liberty Counsel has offered its assistance to the school district and any of its officials or employees to defend them against AU’s claims.
Two classes at Paul W. Bryant High School watched Facing the Giants during class before Christmas break. The movie is an inspirational film about a high school football team which overcomes many obstacles to become a winning team. The film was produced by Sherwood Pictures, associated with Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. SONY Pictures was the major funder and distributor of the inspirational film. The movie is family-friendly and has been distributed around the world.
AU claims that showing the movie in a public school classroom somehow establishes a religion. In response to the complaint, the school suspended further viewing of the movie to investigate the matter. Liberty Counsel has explained to the school district that claims made by AU are not legally sound. Liberty Counsel has offered to represent the school at no cost.
There is no constitutional violation when public school teachers include, within the mix of curriculum or assemblies, various symbols, music, art, drama or literature that has overtly religious themes. If the school is providing exposure to a variety of viewpoints on a given subject matter or an array of cultural narratives, there is no violation of the First Amendment.
Here we go again with another bogus threatening letter from an antireligious organization which has a truncated view of the world. In the worldview of Americans United, there is no room for religion. The problem with that view is that it is contrary to our heritage, history and the First Amendment. The First Amendment does not require that public schools become religion-free zones.
Facing the Giants is an inspirational, family-friendly movie that is available everywhere in DVD format. Mat and Anita Staver had the privilege of meeting the writers and producers, and they recommend the movie for family viewing.