Her neighbors called her “that awful woman” after she sued her 10-year-old son’s school in the historic case that established the separation of church and state in public schools. The year was 1945 and Vashti McCollum, a young Illinois mother, gave permission for her son to attend religion class at his school. But when she saw the course materials she was shocked: “It was indoctrination into the old Christian faith,” she remembered. “So I said never again.”
Jim sat out the class for the rest of the term — he was the only student to do so — at a desk in the hallway usually reserved for punishment. Jim endured brutal bullying for his mother’s decision. One day he came home in tears and Mrs. McCollum decided to do something about it.
Jay Rosenstein’s documentary, The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today, recounts what 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.
The window for viewing the full documentary has unfortunately expired, but you can watch the trailer below.