The debate came to light when a parent whose daughter attends Terry Elementary school told the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers that she is concerned her child could be open to ridicule if she opts not to attend a stage production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" being held at Agape Church.
The letter sent home by first and second grade teachers at the school states children who wish to attend must pay $2 to cover the cost of using school buses to get to the show, which is being held on a school day.
Freethinkers say this steps over the line when it comes to the separation of church and state. The church says is is putting on a free event and has done similar such productions in the past for students without any issue or complaints raised.
KARK News broadcast its story of the flap on Monday.
In the wake of the media buzz, both sides issued written statements today.
"Those who stand up for the rights of children to be free from coercion aren't making war either on religion or Christmas. Rather this is a case of a church forming an alliance with local government to violate religious freedom." wrote Anne Orsi, a Little Rock attorney and Vice President of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.
Agape Church issued this statement: "We hope the complaint or question of a few does not override the opportunity for everyone. This production also included a food drive for area pantries, and we hope that purpose is not lost as well."
The play is slated to be held on Dec. 14.