The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning documentary that tells the compelling personal story of the late Vashti McCollum, and how her efforts to protect her ten year-old son led to one of the most important and landmark First Amendment cases in U.S. Supreme Court history - the case that established the separation of church and state in public schools.
The case is little-known by the contemporary American public, yet the McCollum decision continues to have important ramifications for current conflicts over the role of religion in public institutions - from displays of the Ten Commandments in government buildings to student-led prayers at public school graduation ceremonies.
The Constitution is not self-executing; until there are disputes about its meaning, it is largely ignored. It usually takes an incredibly brave, courageous person to step forward and dispute some part of the Constitution, often resulting in terrible consequences for the individual and/or their family. Yet most of us know nothing of those struggles. They just become names in a law book. The McCollum case is a perfect example.
We just assume, for instance, that there is separation of church and state in public schools because the First Amendment says so. But that's not the reason. The reason is because someone fought for it.