A northern Indiana high school used mannequins instead of student actors after a federal judge banned a live Nativity scene that has been performed for decades, but the audience seemed to love the presentation Saturday, breaking out in applause.
"It's very emotional, I was actually tearful when it came out," parent Roberta Gooding told Fox 28 after the curtain rose revealing a static Nativity scene.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union had sued the district on behalf of a Concord High School student and his father, arguing that a Nativity scene conveyed an endorsement of religion.
U.S. District Judge Jon DeGuilio issued a preliminary injunction to stop this year's live scene, ruling that "the living Nativity scene impermissibly conveys an endorsement of religion and thus runs afoul of the Establishment Clause."
School officials say the injunction only applied to a live scene and that they complied with the judge's order.
"The injunction is a preliminary ruling and applies only to this year's Christmas Spectacular performance," Concord Community Schools Superintendent John Trout said in a statement. "For 2015, the court ordered that the School not present a live Nativity scene. That is, live performers cannot perform the Nativity scene in this year's Spectacular, and Concord Community Schools will comply with that order."
The school district in Elkhart, about 15 miles east of South Bend, has about 5,300 students. The show was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
The ACLU and the foundation didn't immediately respond to requests for comment sent Sunday morning.
This year's show also included performances of songs like "White Christmas," a Hanukkah song and a traditional African song for Kwanzaa.
The case is to go to court Jan. 7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.