Six girls barred from performing in a city’s holiday show because they wore “Jesus Christ Dancers” shirts settled a federal lawsuit in which they were awarded $3,000 each.

The American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, representing the girls and their instructor, reached an agreement with the city of Chula Vista, which refused to let them perform “because of the Christian message on their T-shirts and the Christian theme music they planned to dance to.”

As WND reported, the girls, ages 8 to 12, were scheduled to perform a hip-hop dance routine Dec. 3, 2005, at a “Holiday Festival.”

A consent decree signed Oct. 24 ordered the city to pay $3,000 to each of the girls and to their dance instructor. Another $10,000 is to be paid for attorney fees and costs. Also included in the settlement is a requirement by the court for the city “to provide First Amendment training on an annual basis to its police officers and all city employees who are classified as mid-managers and above.”

Attorney Brian Fahling said Chula Vista “is to be commended for stepping forward and acknowledging it violated the girl’s constitutional rights.”

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Center of Law & Policy’s parent group, the American Family Association, said “the girls had a great civics lesson in all of this … they learned that asserting their constitutional rights benefits not just them, but all of us.”

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 the instructor, Lita Ramirez.

When finally informed they could not perform, the girls began to cry, some hysterically, parents said.

Ramirez described the experience as humiliating.

Fahling, at the time, 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.

The lawsuit alleged the city’s decision “was impermissible viewpoint-based discrimination against religious speech in a public forum.”

Specifically, the complaint said 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.”

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