The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today

Producer and/or Director: 
Jay Rosenstein
2010

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 for much worse. She was branded a communist, and the Illinois State Legislature nearly outlawed her and her husband from ever teaching at the state university again.

All because, in 1945, this young mother of three from a small central Illinois town, ironically with the biblical first name of Vashti, 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 and landmark 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 Vasti 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.