“The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today,” a documentary produced by UI journalism professor Jay Rosenstein, in partnership with WILL-TV, was one of the winners of the 70th Annual Peabody Awards, announced last week.
The awards committee said: “A beautifully researched documentary by a Champaign, Illinois, station, it examines a First Amendment case critical to the establishment of separation of church and state in public schools.”
The film tells the personal story of Vashti McCollum’s lawsuit against the Champaign public school system after her son, Jim, was abused by classmates and punished by the school for not taking part in a voluntary Protestant religion class. After she lost in lower court decisions, she won a resounding 8-1 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, establishing the foundation for the separation of church and state in public schools.
Rosenstein said he was stunned and humbled by the recognition provided by the award. “I am thrilled that this award will help a new generation of Americans learn about the inspirational story and courage of the late Vashti McCollum,” he said.
The documentary also recently won a 2011 Gracie Award for Outstanding Documentary from the Alliance for Women in Media, and also won two regional Emmy Awards (Mid-America Region), a CINE Golden Eagle, the Broadcast Education Association’s Best of Competition Award in the faculty long-form documentary division, and a bronze Telly Award in the documentary category.
Rosenstein’s production debuted in October 2010 on WILL-TV, and is scheduled for national broadcast by PBS during May. The complete broadcast schedule will be available on the film’s website at www.thelordisnotontrial.com.