Six girls barred from performing in a city’s holiday show because they wore “Jesus Christ Dancers” shirts filed a federal lawsuit in San Diego today.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the girls, ages 8 to 12, were scheduled to perform a hip-hop dance routine Dec. 3 at a “Holiday Festival” in Chula Vista, Calif., but a city official prevented them from going on stage because of the Christian message on their T-shirts and their accompanying Christian music.
The black shirts, bearing a silver cross, had the words “Jesus Christ Dancers” on the front.
The American Family Association Center for Law & Policy is representing the girls and their instructor, Lita Ramirez, in the suit against the city and a recreation supervisor, John Gates.
The dancers were listed first on the Holiday Festival’s schedule of performers, but officials kept the girls waiting 80 minutes as they deliberated about whether to allow the act, according to Ramirez.
When finally informed they could not perform, the girls began to cry, some hysterically, parents said.
Ramirez described the experience as humiliating.
AFA senior trial attorney Brian Fahling called the conduct of Chula Vista officials “inexcusable.”
“The city allowed a Hawaiian prayer dance, a belly dancer and other ‘holiday’ performers, and there was a tree-lighting ceremony afterward where a rabbi lighted a menorah, but six young girls wearing T-shirts with ‘Jesus Dancer’ and a cross silk-screened on them was too offensive,” he said.
Fahling said that without judicial resolution, “there is no way to guarantee that these little girls and other Christians won’t receive similar treatment by the city in the future.”
The lawsuit alleges the city’s decision “was impermissible viewpoint-based discrimination against religious speech in a public forum.”
Specifically, the complaint says the city prohibited “the name of Jesus being displayed and the songs with words that praise the Christian God from being played while permitting other religious and secular songs and expression.”