Jesus combined diverse people and assorted stories to change the world! Now, He wants to use you! When the students of Rosewood High School lose their theater, music and dance departments ...
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When a pastor is shaken by the visible faith of a street corner preacher, he is reminded that true belief always requires action. His response ignites a journey that impacts everyone it touches in ways that only God could orchestrate.
VIRTUOUS is a modern day version of Proverbs 31. It's the story of a Hollywood starlet, a soldier on the battlefield, the successful businesswoman, and the housekeeping and cooking skills of dear old Mom.
Jesus combined diverse people and assorted stories to change the world! Now, He wants to use you! When the students of Rosewood High School lose their theater, music and dance departments due to budgets cuts, they create their own. Struggling to find the right script, music & choreography the students get advice from an uncommon source; the Bible! Each student becomes uniquely influenced as they discover that God takes them personally. Equipped with unique talents, they bond together to prepare the perfect production by exploring the diversity of parables taught in the Bible. Fighting overwhelming challenges, the teens fight against political correctness to defend their privilege to worship, meet and perform. Will months of constant bullying by the establishment defeat the production and dismantle their faith? Armed with expert legal counsel and unexpected help from Christian music's finest, these teens realize what it means to be...UNCOMMON! Written by
TLDR of the plot: the Liberty Counsel picked two well established student religious rights (bible studies and religious plays) and decided to pretend they were bigger issues than they are so that they could win in their movie and actually be right about it. So what about the actual laws then? Students can, in fact, have extracurricular gatherings before or after instructional time (and even in the middle of the day, in some cases). This is written into the Equal Access Act, a Reagan administration law designed to protect the rights of religious students. Basically, any secondary school (public or charter) that receives federal funding and opened a limited public forum (other extracurricular groups) cannot discriminate against religious extracurricular student initiated groups, period. The play is a bit more complicated however. Uncommon fashions the theater club to have been student formed, getting around that hoop of losing funds to have a curriculum related theater club. However, the principals concerns were justified by the Hazelwood standard and perhaps one of the few cases regarding religious plays, Stratechuk v Orange-Maplewood SD. The Hazelwood standard concerns the schools discretion where it can censor student speech with a legitimate pedagogical (definition: educational. I didn't know that word at first either) reason if that speech could be viewed as the schools. In this case, the principal decided correctly (or at least rationally) as a religious play at the school with its facilities could be seen as promoting Christianity. A play on the Bible could be thought of as being educational as a historical work of stories, but to most outside observers it would probably have been seen as anything but secular, especially considering lyrics such as "knowing that the Bibles word is cause for stepping out", "trust God for everything", and the chorus "have faith" during the musical number. The issue of religious plays are still an ambiguous matter on the whole though. Certainly it is not a requirement that plays be devoid of religious content entirely, especially considering most have it as a motif in some form or fashion. There were two blatant SOCAS problems which seemed to me to be bigger deals than these issues. These were Marc's active promotion of Christianity to the students as their staff chaperone, and Mr. Stevens tirades about organized religion during class time. The Mr. Stevens has to be a bad guy, that's just how these movies work, and therefore also has to be an atheist and a dick. There's no way you could pull this kind of movie off by having a reasonable, calm, professional, law abiding teacher that just doesn't want the school to become a mini- theocracy. So what must they have him do? Not just shut down the clubs, but go off on how organized religion destroys everything and that Christians are judgmental and stupid (which Aaron, needing to be highlighted as smarter than him, points out that it's judgmental to be so judgmental). Public school teachers are representatives of the state. They are there to teach, not preach, including atheist preaching. Can teachers have an opinion, and can they make those opinions known? Yes and no. Certainly no one can be stopped from having an opinion, and it's okay to tell students what they believe if asked. However, it has been repeatedly ruled that they cannot endorse, condone, or condemn a religious belief, which Mr. Stevens clearly does. This issue wasn't brought up in any legal way during the movie, but easily could have been. It would have been yet another way to condemn the atheist teacher, but considering how it's much more common to find religious teachers making such violations, they only alluded to it rather than highlighting. The biggest SOCAS violation by far though was Erik Estrada's character promoting Christianity to the students. The EAA clearly states under the Fair Opportunity Criteria at US Code 4071.c.3 and 4072.2 that government staff and faculty can't encourage religious activities, this includes janitors. So guess what it was exactly that the janitor, serving as a staff custodian at a student initiated club, did? Encouraged them base their play off the Bible when they couldn't agree on what to put on, and preached to them using the David and Goliath story. Being there as the students themselves decided to have a religious play would have been fine, as was cleared up in Daughtry v Vanguard in regards to staff being present at a flagpole prayer. However, he didn't do that, he got right in there and not only got his hands dirty but stirred the pot. The administration easily could have taken issue with this, but because it's a Christian movie and they're always the good guys, obviously they weren't going to touch that. Some final things I'd like to clear up. First, the faculty chaperone wasn't required, as the principal had made it seem. Pope v East Brunswick stopped faculty hostility from preventing a groups formation if other noncircular groups existed on campus. Secondly, there is a scene where Mr. Stevens becomes livid at the thought of students using public facilities, because that must be a SOCAS violation. Well, it's not. In conjunction with the EAA, Widmar v Vincent clarified that the simple use of public facilities isn't an endorsement of religion, rather the organizations benefit is incidental to the use of the facility. Thirdly, the principals stating that the group can't materially interfere or disrupt with the school's normal proceedings is legitimate. This is known as the Tinker Test, which outlines when schools can impose speech restrictions, the only other criteria being if the speech can be shown to be an invasion of others. Finally, STUDENT PRAYER IN SCHOOL IS LEGAL. Students can pray all they want! What isn't allowed, however, is compulsory school led prayer. It ostracizes nonbelievers or students of other religions in classes and serves no secular or pedagogical purpose.
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