The Lord Is Not on Trial Here Today

One of the most important cases in U.S. Supreme Court history set the foundation for the separation of church and state in public schools.

Lord is not on trial here today 01
Premiere Date
May 2, 2011
Length
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2010 Mid-America Emmys-Best Historical Documentary Emmy
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2010 Mid-America Emmys-Best Writing Documentary Emmy
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2011 Peabody Awards-George Foster Peabody Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2011 CINE Golden Eagle Awards-CINE Golden Eagle Award - Historical Program
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2011 Telly Awards-Bronze Telly Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2011 Gracie Awards -Outstanding Documentary
  • Rosenstein jay filmmaker bio
    Producer/Director

    Jay Rosenstein

    Jay Rosenstein is a Peabody and Emmy award-winning independent documentary producer, director, writer, and editor whose work has been seen nationally on the PBS series P.O.V. and Independent Lens, the Independent Film Channel, ABC World News, ESPN, the Nickelodeon Channel, and film festivals worldwide including Sundance. His documentary The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today Show more has won a Peabody, two Emmy Awards for Best Historical Documentary and Best Writing in the Mid-America region, a CINE Golden Eagle, and a Gracie Award. Jay's previous work includes the documentaries The Amasong Chorus: Singing Out, which aired on Independent Lens and won a Documentary Award of Excellence from the Broadcast Education Association and a CINE Golden Eagle; and Erased, which premiered at Sundance in 2001 and screened at the South by Southwest Film Festival among others. His best-known documentary, the 1997 In Whose Honor? American Indian Mascots in Sports, aired nationally on the PBS series P.O.V. and was recognized by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism as one of the most outstanding programs on race in American television in 1997-1998. Jay has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Independent Television Service (twice), the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, the Illinois Humanities Council, and the Illinois Arts Council. Jay lives in Champaign, Illinois with his two daughters, where he is an Associate Professor in the College of Media at the University of Illinois, Urbana. His website is jayrosenstein.com. Show less

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    The Film

    She was called “that awful woman” by her neighbors, and “that atheist mother” by virtually every newspaper in the country. Her friends stopped returning phone calls rather than risk speaking with her. She received up to 200 letters a day, some of the writers claiming they would pray for her; many wishing her harm. She was branded a Communist, and the Illinois State Legislature nearly banned her and her husband from ever teaching at the state university again.

    All this because, in 1945, this young mother of three from a small central Illinois town, Vashti McCollum would file a historic lawsuit that would forever change the relationship between religion and public schools in America.

    The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today tells the compelling personal story behind one of the most important First Amendment cases in U.S. Supreme Court history, the case that set the foundation for the separation of church and state in public schools. The film recounts what Vashti McCollum later described as “three years of headlines, headaches, and hatred,” but which eventually led to a decision that still resonates in the church-state conflicts of today, 60 years after the original decision in McCollum vs. Board of Education.

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