Audience members attending a Kentucky school's production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" chimed in to recite the biblical portion of the play that had previously been eliminated by school administrators.
Footage from Thursday evening's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" at W.R. Castle Elementary School in Johnson County shows adult members of the audience reciting the religious line usually said by the character Linus in the original production of the play. (Watch below.)
Some audience members attending the Thursday night production can be seen in the video reciting the line: "Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
The eliminated scene was the climax of the original film and presented in answer to the question, "what is Christmas all about?"
Jeff Cochran, principal of the elementary school, told the Lexington Herald Leader that he was not pleased with the audience's participation in the play.
"I wish that they had let the kids do the play," he told the local media outlet.
Protesters had reportedly gathered in front of the elementary school this week after the school district's superintendent announced that the famous biblical line would be eliminated from the school's version of the play to keep in line with laws regarding separation of Church and State.
The Alliance Defending Freedom legal group had previously sent a letter to the school district, encouraging it to go through with the original version of the Christmas play and offering legal assistance should the district encounter opposition.
"Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow students to perform a classic Christmas production simply because it contains biblical references," Matt Sharp, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement. "'A Charlie Brown Christmas' has become an iconic Christmas story and tradition. Are school officials going to start demanding that other classic productions, such as Shakespearean plays, be censored just because they contain religious references?"
Thomas R. Salyer, superintendent of Johnson County Schools, previously said in a statement posted to the district's website that the religious references were eliminated from the play to avoid the appearance that the school is endorsing Christianity.
"The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are very clear that public school staff may not endorse any religion when acting in their official capacities and during school activities," Salyer said in the statement.
"However, our district is fully committed to promote the spirit of giving and concern for our fellow citizens that help define the Christmas holiday. With core values such as service, integrity, leadership, and commitment, our staff and students will continue to proudly represent our district as recently demonstrated by our many student successes," Salyer added.