The real story of how separation of church and state in public schools became part of American law – and the courageous woman who made it happen.

"A compelling and captivating film that tells the story of how a single courageous woman challenged her nation to live up to the terms of the First Amendment. Constitutional law is rarely this engaging."

Ken Paulson - President, First Amendment Center
Synopsis: 

The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today is a Peabody 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 film recounts what Vashti McCollum later described as "three years of headlines, headaches, and hatred," and the dramatic legal maneuverings that led to a decision that shocked the nation and made the McCollums a household name.  "Beautifully researched" according to the Peabody Awards, perhaps one reviewer described it best: "The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today (tells) a little-known story of a woman, a court case, and a movement that changed American society forever."

The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today is written, produced, and directed by Jay Rosenstein.  Narration by former M*A*S*H TV actor David Ogden Stiers. Major funding by the Independent Television Service; the Office of the Chancellor, University of Illinois, Urbana; the Illinois Humanities Council.

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Reviews

"An exceptional film.  Superb in situating the Court case in a historical context."

American Bar Association Silver Gavel Awards

"A story that is beautifully rendered. While the eventual Supreme Court victory plays out in a taut dramatic presentation, the documentary is just as significant for its resonance in the contemporary moment."

Professor Chris Benson, Huffington Post

"The Lord is not on Trial Here Today (tells) a little-known story of a woman, a court case, and a movement that changed American society forever and for the better."

Anthropology Review

"I sat mesmerized for the duration by the splendid, even-handed guidance of the material, the non-judgemental tone of the narration writing, and was thrilled by both the outcome of the case itself and for the honor of having been invited to participate in the project."

David Ogden Stiers, narrator

"Why religion isn't taught in our public schools."

Roger Ebert