This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 21, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: First, this children's dance troupe from Chula Vista, California, was barred from a local park's talent show because of a message displayed on their T-shirts. The young Christian dance troupe were told by park officials to turn their cross-emblazoned T-shirts that read "Jesus Christ Dancers" inside out or they would not be allowed to perform. The young dancers refused and left the stage in tears.
Chula Vista City attorneys have since said that banning the troupe's performance was a mistake. But that hasn't stopped the American Family Association from slapping the city with a lawsuit for violating the girls' freedom of speech and freedom to practice religion.
Joining us now the dance instructor for the Jesus Christ Dancers, Lita Ramirez, and the American Family Association attorney representing the dance troupe families, Brian Fahling.
And by the way, I think it's ridiculous that you couldn't perform and that you couldn't wear that T-shirt to perform after they gave you the right to do so initially. So Lita, tell us where does it stand right now? What's happening?
LITA RAMIREZ, DANCE INSTRUCTOR, JESUS CHRIST DANCERS: Well, we're just kind of waiting right now to find out what the city's response is. I know it's in litigation right now. So I haven't talked to anybody with the city or the mayor, the city officials or parks and recreation.
COLMES: You showed up to an event. You were supposed to perform and at the last minute they said you're not going on. Is that what happened?
COLMES: Tell me what transpired there.
RAMIREZ: Well, we got there, and we were supposed to be the first ones to perform. They ended up postponing us until an hour later. Over an hour later, they decided to tell us that we could not perform due to the nature of our T-shirts and because of the nature of our music. They did not know what type of music it was.
COLMES: After you told them it was Christian hip-hop music to begin with. They were told what it was ahead of time.
But let me go to your counselor there, Brian. The mayor, Steve Padilla, has apologized publicly to the group, as he should have. And he said he apologized many times. In fact, he's taking a full page out in the San Diego Union-Tribune, as I understand.
He says he and the council didn't agree on the decision of an overly cautious employee. The city manager, Dave Rollins, says it was a mistake. They've acknowledged they have messed up here. So what more do you want?
BRIAN FAHLING, ATTORNEY: Well, Alan, I just received word today that they have put forth some sort of apology and that tomorrow in the Union-Tribune that that will be published. And I think that's great news. I think it certainly seems to reflect sincerity on their part with respect to what happened to these young girls.
Of course, the lawsuit was sent out last Friday and filed on Monday. And oftentimes in cases like this, cities have short memories. And we're seeing such a proliferation of this type of action conducted against children especially, in our public schools.
COLMES: There's no question about it. But wasn't it kind of basically an employee who maybe was being overly cautious, didn't intend any harm, thought he was following the law? And now the higher-ups, like the mayor and city manager, said, you know, "We are wrong and we apologize to you?"
FAHLING: That may be the case. Certainly, our lawsuit alleges that the city was involved, that it became a policy.
Now, it took about 80 minutes for them to make the decision and it suggests to me that they were consulting. In fact, that's what they indicated they were doing. So the question is, with whom did they consult and at what level did that decision come?
Now again, I want to repeat. We're very pleased with the apology that has been forthcoming from the city. But as I indicated, cities do have a short memory oftentimes, and there's a public interest at stake here. There's the girls' obvious injury that they injured two weeks ago, but even beyond that is the public interest in ensuring that this type of thing doesn't happen again in these municipalities. We need to know...
LOWRY: That's important. This is an outrageous, outrageous case.
Lita, let me ask you something. The press report said that at this festival, during it, they performed a Hawaiian prayer to the gods and at the end of it they lit a menorah. Now given all that activity was taking place, why would they ban you from performing?
RAMIREZ: I don't know. I am very confused and don't understand the whole situation. I'm teaching classes at the parks and recreation that is a Christian class, and this performance was supposed to promote my class as well. So everything — I really don't understand why this took place.
LOWRY: Brian, how do we get to the place in our society when people see the name "Jesus Christ" on a T-shirt and recoil in horror and think it's a legal issue if children perform with that name on their shirts?
FAHLING: You know, Rich, it didn't happen overnight. Obviously, in the last 20 to 30 years we really have seen, I think, an extirpation, if you will, of the Christian message from the public square. It seems that hurt feelings now among a very few can constitute a constitutional challenge, by which they then can seek the removal of Christian symbols.
LOWRY: Yes, it seems to me this is part and parcel of the kind of attitude that drives the war on Christmas that Alan just a few minutes ago was saying doesn't exist.
COLMES: And occasional employee making a mistake and then acknowledging the mistake.
LOWRY: It happens all over the country. It happens all over the country.
COLMES: Hopefully this has a happy ending, right? Hopefully, this ends properly, counselor?
FAHLING: Well, I hope so. We just had three more today that came in with elementary school age kids who suffered a similar fate.
COLMES: Brian, thank you. And Lita, best of luck to you. Thank you for doing our show tonight.
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