Restoring our rights

A Florida school district had even banned prayerful "posture"

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A stunning poll released this July Fourth holiday shows only about 58 percent of Americans know which year America declared itself to be free.

Perhaps because we're still fighting to be.

Case in point:

Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit that helps preserve religious freedom, figures that its recent lawsuit settlement with a Florida school district helped win back a dozen constitutional rights for staff and students that had been taken away.

After the ultra-liberal American Civil Liberties Union sued the Santa Rosa County School District, and won a "consent decree" restricting staff and students' voluntary prayer, such as over the noon meal, they were threatened for several years with fines, loss of accrued retirement benefits and even jail.

"As a result of this settlement," the organization said in a press release, "Liberty Counsel's clients who are teachers will now be able to pray at school during their break times, pray during school events in a nonofficial capacity, attend and fully participate in baccalaureate services, have a Bible on their desk, wear religious jewelry, and assign readings from the Bible to students when relevant to nonreligious academic assignments. Students will be allowed to voluntarily pray, submit religious answers in homework, and freely participate in private, after-school religious programs."

There is no freedom from religion in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, our religious liberty is enshrined in the "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment, which forbids Congress "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion.

For a time, prodded into it by the ACLU, the Pensacola-area school district did just that -- in a "consent decree" with the ACLU -- also known as an unconditional surrender.

Among other things, the decree had essentially ordered school officials to tackle any speaker at a school event who intended to offer any mention of God or prayer.

Further, one part of the decree said: "School officials shall not participate in any way in a prayer with students during or in conjunction with instructional periods or a school event. During or in conjunction with a school event, school officials shall not offer a prayer, recite a prayer alongside or with students, bow their heads or otherwise posture in a manner that is likely to be perceived as an endorsement of the prayer."

"Posture in a manner that is likely to be perceived as an endorsement of the prayer"? Good grief! The Gestapo might have been proud of that!

Thanks to Liberty Counsel, after-hours student groups and teacher meetings at Santa Rosa schools are no longer "school events" where prayer is prohibited; disallowed prayer no longer includes silent or individual prayer; and teachers no longer have to censor spiritually based references from students' work.

No, we don't want public schools to proselytize. But we don't give up our constitutional rights by walking onto a school grounds or working for a school district. And the First Amendment is clear that we have a right to exercise our personal religious beliefs.

And God help us -- literally -- if our government starts arresting people for adopting a "posture in a manner that is likely to be perceived as an endorsement" of a prayer.

It's amazing that a couple centuries after throwing off the tyranny of King George, Americans are still having to fight for their religious liberties. How can any government official or any well-trained lawyer believe they have the right to get in the way of you and your God? Do they not teach the First Amendment in law school? Or, following the example of NBC-TV -- which last month edited God out of the Pledge of Allegiance -- are law professors cutting out the free-exercise clause?

Thank God there are people such as those at Liberty Counsel who can have it put back.

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Rise From The Shadows
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Rise From The Shadows 07/07/11 - 10:51 pm
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I'm not touching this one

I'm not touching this one with a 10ft pole. I might say something I'd regret.

allhans
23641
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allhans 07/08/11 - 12:50 am
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RA What is wrong with

RA What is wrong with Pentecostalism? I am Baptist and I have no problem with other Christian organizations - or some non-Christian for that matter.

faithson
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faithson 07/08/11 - 01:09 am
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The point is when it comes to

The point is when it comes to 'public' education... who's prayers from who's theology are going to be acceptable ? And who's are NOT! To much passion involved, prefer we just skip the prayer thing and focus on the job at hand; education.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 07/08/11 - 01:10 am
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Retired Army, no one is

Retired Army, no one is trying to say teacher shold be allowed to teach their religion to students, far from it. However, the ACLU and this district went way too far, even for many standards set but liberals. Most don't have a clue about seperation of church and state, the ACLU certainly doesn't.

It is time for organizaitons, schools and Leaders to stand up for what is right...anyone who really thinks this county had changed for the better regarding many changes in laws and attitudes over the past 40 years has their head in the sand.

Fundamental_Arminian
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Fundamental_Arminian 07/08/11 - 02:33 am
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Good, informative editorial.

Good, informative editorial. Non-profits such as the Liberty Counsel and the American Center for Law and Justice have been doing much to counter the ACLU's bullying tactics and to apprise teachers and students of their religious rights.

As to faithson's desire to skip prayer and focus on education, we who believe the Bible understand that the fear of God is the beginning (main part) of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). We don't want non-theistic religions such as atheism and secular humanism forced on our children and grandchildren. We want our children and grandchildren schooled to be good, not immoral.

Riverman1
83821
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Riverman1 07/08/11 - 05:07 am
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God caused the ACLU hearts to

God caused the ACLU hearts to be hardened as he did with Pharaoh when Pharaoh sent his Army after the Jews. Kind of a predestination question again. I wonder why God wants us to do battle with the ACLU? Just to keep us on our toes?

carcraft
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carcraft 07/08/11 - 05:46 am
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The truth of the matter is

The truth of the matter is that our founding fathers wanted the Christian religion and the moral values it contained to be a big part of our live. That is why George Washington had a Chaplain Corp sarted in the Army when he took over command of the military, and why we have a Chaplain in the congress. We are seeing the fruits of the removal of God from our society. The cheating in the Atlanta school system is the latest example. No morality or integrity!

grouse
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grouse 07/08/11 - 07:03 am
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Religion belongs in places of
Unpublished

Religion belongs in places of worship and out of any governmental-controlled body, whether it be local, state or national. Religion is not part of basic educational instruction (the three R's). And yes, freedom from religion has been ruled over many, many years to be constitutional as part of the concept of the separation of church and state.

draksig
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draksig 07/08/11 - 07:18 am
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Before this new agreement,

Before this new agreement, Teachers were banned from exercising their religion in the presence of any student in any setting including Church. One teacher got suspended because her husband offered a prayer at a non-school event. Pretty soon, only atheists can hold public office or hold government jobs. And the Constitution does not guarantee freedom FROM religion, just like it does not guarantee the right to not be offended. Judicial rulings can be overturned with later judicial rulings so they do not count.

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 07/08/11 - 07:24 am
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According to our "brilliant"
Unpublished

According to our "brilliant" president, you know, the one in power, making our economy boom like it is now, America is not a Christian nation. He also thinks its proper to bow to other nation's leaders, especially Muslim nations. Guess with a name like Barack Obama, we shouldn't be surprised. Yeah, I'm laughing.

grouse
1635
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grouse 07/08/11 - 07:31 am
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Just because something's
Unpublished

Just because something's labeled "editorial" doesn't mean the newspaper has the right to skew the facts in a news story. Just a quick skim of the documents in this case revealed that The Chronicle is less than forthcoming on the facts in this story. The actual settlement can be viewed here: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/oks-41530-prayer-board.html

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 07/08/11 - 08:55 am
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In this discussion regarding

In this discussion regarding separation of church and state, here's another opinion that might be good to consider:

"It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

No politician expressing this opinion could be elected today. He/she would be vilified by the liberal media. Can you imagine what Keith Olberman would say about such a candidate who openly proclaimed allegiance to the God of the Bible (at the exclusion of Allah, Buddha, etc.)?

Of course, you might already know that the above quote is from George Washington. Oh, sorry, we've been told that our Founding Fathers were not really Christian or founded our nation upon Christian principles. Guess old George was just as politically-incorrect then as now. I mean, according to our current president, the U.S. is not even a Christian nation.

But, like I said, George Washington could not be elected to national office today. The ACLU would bust an aneurysm doing their very best to make sure he never got out of the primaries.

How far this country has fallen, indeed.

harley_52
23272
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harley_52 07/08/11 - 08:57 am
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Ah yes, the predictable 'if

Ah yes, the predictable 'if you don't like the Godless public schools, send your kids to private schools' refrain. Also predictable is the absence of the logical follow on 'and, by the way, when you pull them out of the Godless public schools we will refund your tax dollars to help you pay for the private school.'

You see, as in all other matters, "progressives" want you to pay for their view of the world, not yours. Isn't that what's wrong with schools in the first place?

Why don't "progressives" support a voucher system in which you can send your kids to the school of your choice and NOT have to pay twice? Why must you happily pay your taxes to support a failed, Godless school system run by a bunch of "progressives" whose interests are more in social experimentation than in education and whose idea of demonstrating success is by lying and cheating?

Chillen
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Chillen 07/08/11 - 09:08 am
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I wonder if the ACLU is suing

I wonder if the ACLU is suing school districts to prevent muslim head gear & robes from being worn in schools? I wonder if they are suing to prevent afternoon muslim customs like washing feet from occuring?

My guess. Nope. Not in a million years. This is a progressive co-ordinated attack on Christianity and Conservatism. Plain & Simple.

These progressives have got to go, they are literally ruining our nation. If they won't crawl back under their rocks or move to China (where they will fit in nicely), then we need to split the nation and send the moonbats, progressives & liberals to one side of the nation and allow those of us who value Freedom, Capitalism and Independence to remain on the other side.

This is quickly becoming the only clear solution. I welcome it.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 07/08/11 - 09:09 am
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The ACLU is "an

The ACLU is "an ultra-liberal" group pursuing a Godless agenda to take away the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Liberty Counsel, crusaders for all that is right and righteous, rides to the rescue. That's the world according to MRyan and ACES. Here's mine: Liberty Counsel is an ultra-conservative group pursuing a Christian agenda to indoctrinate as many American children as possible with Bible mythology. The ACLU works tirelessly to protect all of us from state-condoned religion. Liberty Counsel is the brain-child [sic] of Mat Staver, a favorite guest columnist in our local papers, head of Liberty University Law School, itself part of the sad legacy of the late and little mourned Jerry Falwell. In Staver's case, the nut didn't fall very far from the tree. Try reading some of Staver's columns. You will immediately find yourself deep down the rabbit hole of far-right Christian zaniness. This MattR / ACES column isn't far behind.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 07/08/11 - 09:15 am
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Well, I guess it's clear that

Well, I guess it's clear that Mr. Ryan and the ACES align themselves more closely with George Washington than with the ACLU. Maybe that's not such a bad thing?

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 07/08/11 - 09:18 am
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OK, let's talk about freedom.

OK, let's talk about freedom. MRyan and ACES celebrate our founding when we "threw off the tyranny of King George." We did indeed, and that was a great thing. Now, ACES promotes the idea of holding up as role models to our children teachers, coaches, and administrators who embrace the tyranny of King God. As I see it, that little bait and switch simply replaces one tyrant with another, one form of suppression with another. I am for freedom from both legal and spiritual tyranny. "Religious freedom" is the most pervasive and dangerous oxymoron in history.

Chillen
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Chillen 07/08/11 - 09:21 am
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ACLU files suit against a

ACLU files suit against a prison to help muslim inmates with their "right" to "muslim prayer".

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-06-23-ACLU-prayer_N.htm

ACLU sues a Georgia city so that muslims have the right to wear their "head gear" in court.

http://douglasville.patch.com/articles/aclu-sues-city-over-muslim-head-c...

ACLU & CAIR team up to sue the FBI to stop them from surveillance at California mosques. (perhaps the FBI was investigating POTENTIAL TERRORISTS!)

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2011/0223/Muslim-group-sues-FBI-ove...

Yes, there is a pattern here. The ACLU doesn't seem like an un-biased group to me. Seems to me like the are anti-Christianity and mostly pro-Muslim.

howcanweknow
2306
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howcanweknow 07/08/11 - 09:22 am
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Uh, sorry, but it was not

Uh, sorry, but it was not ACES that holds up "King God". It was George Washington. Apparently, you have a problem with Mr. Washington, and not just the ACES. Also, didn't the Founding Fathers also say that we are all endowed with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by our CREATOR, and not by popular vote or political fiat?

Woops. Sorry. I forgot that those who founded this nation were not concerned about God, and sought to found a strictly secular republic.

As is often the case, the truth of history is the biggest problem for those who seek to recreate our nation in their image.

Dixieman
14943
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Dixieman 07/08/11 - 09:25 am
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Government schools = child

Government schools = child abuse. Take a second job if necessary, but get your kids into a good private school!

harley_52
23272
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harley_52 07/08/11 - 09:34 am
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The United States of America

The United States of America is a Christian nation. There, I said it. I know it makes some of your eyes pop out in rage, but it happens to be true.

The problem we suffer here in America is less about what our founding fathers intended and more about the Political Correctness promulgated by the ultra-left. It's all about the insistence that nobody should ever be "offended."

The idea the founding fathers had was that people should be free to practice whatever religion they wanted and that the government shouldn't require citizens into any particular religion. Progressives have chosen to infer that to mean nobody could ever say a prayer, or take any other religious action that might possibly "offend" even one person.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 07/08/11 - 09:40 am
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Our problem is that we do not

Our problem is that we do not believe, or will not accept, that there is but ONE GOD. Theology, religion, tradition, or ceremony, have nothing to do with believing and seeking God in our lives. It is man that makes this difficult, not God.

howcanweknow
2306
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howcanweknow 07/08/11 - 09:42 am
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I think the even bigger

I think the even bigger problem is that many are determined that there is NO God, and want to wipe even the hint of religious recognition from the face of America. That is the "freedom from religion" of which the article writes. I think the opinion is right on in pointing this out.

harley_52
23272
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harley_52 07/08/11 - 09:48 am
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The problem seems only to

The problem seems only to apply to Christians. The "progressives" have no problem supporting the free and open (even tax dollar supported) practice of Islam. You know, the religion that condemns Christians and Jews and encourages muslims to drive them from the face of the earth and kill them.

howcanweknow
2306
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howcanweknow 07/08/11 - 09:50 am
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Such is the transparency of

Such is the transparency of the liberal left. They "tolerate" any and all things except Christianity. The evidence is pretty clear.

seenitB4
87116
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seenitB4 07/08/11 - 09:52 am
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chillen....That is just

chillen....That is just chilling to read......why should we bend for folks in prison....if they want to pray 5 times a day....Stay out of jail...

I still don't understand the headdress for some women & covering allover....it took us years in the US to get out of all that dress-clothing...why wear 100% covering in 98 degrees .....not me!

harley_52
23272
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harley_52 07/08/11 - 09:59 am
0
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Why do we pamper and placate

Why do we pamper and placate a bunch of murderous, terrorist thugs in Guantanimo? Why do we make sure their every need and desire is accommodated? Why do we feed them the finest food, provide them the finest medical care, and recreation and housing facilities possible while they threaten to kill us all and spit urine and throw feces in the faces of their guards, demanding more and more?

Why indeed? One word answer..........

"Progressives."

effete elitist liberal
3112
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effete elitist liberal 07/08/11 - 10:15 am
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"The United States of America

"The United States of America is a Christian nation." True, sadly. This is a far, far different thing from saying the Founding Fathers, including George Washington, intended the new nation they were creating to be a Christian one. The historical facts are that while most of the men who attended the Constitutional Convention were Christians, they were not the men who in the end created the constitutional document which was ratified in 1788. Even Washington himself played a very small role in crafting the Constitution's language. Most of the men who actually wrote our Constitution were Deists who essentially rejected the divinity of Jesus and who were determined to avoid making the US a Christian nation anything like England. England, a truly Christian nation in 1788, was the anti-model for the core of Founding Fathers who in fact created our system. The rest of the men, the Christians, in the end really did not matter, although their rear-guard protesting against the Constitution came very close to preventing its final ratification. I know most of you out there wish our history were different; sorry. That today the US is "a Christian nation" simply reflects the fact that for much of our history subsequent to 1788, too many Americans have tried to undo what the Founding Fathers actually did.

howcanweknow
2306
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howcanweknow 07/08/11 - 10:16 am
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I'm afraid the answer may be

I'm afraid the answer may be that "Progressives" (now THAT is a true oxymoron) hate the American ideals which founded our nation, and therefore, they tend to show leniency to those who seek to do us harm. As an example, didn't our current first lady even say that she had always been "ashamed" of America until her husband was nominated (or something like that)? America is far from perfect, but to be "ashamed" to be an American? Give me a break.

howcanweknow
2306
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howcanweknow 07/08/11 - 10:21 am
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We can debate the issue until

We can debate the issue until we are blue in the face, and it means nothing. The best evidence is to let the founders speak for themselves. Go back and re-read Washington's quote. He's talking about the Christian God here, and none other. The Declaration speaks of a "Creator". I'm not saying that the founders wanted a theocracy. Far from it. But, based on their statement I do not believe we can say they were comfortable in crafting a totally secular, atheistic nation either. Their own words make that very clear.

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