How many religious references do we need to see from public school officials before we can all admit they’ve overstepped their bounds?
Exhibit 1: Principal Albert Hardison‘s message on the website for Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School in Louisiana, part of the Caddo Parish Public Schools:
On mornings when the sun is beaming or hidden, our student prayer group, “Hornets for Hope”, pray and give thanks to the Son of God for carrying our school over the thorns of negativity and the thistles of discord and setting it gently on the petals of harmony and the lily of tranquility. Our “Hornets for Hope” thank God for giving us a school that believes in God, family, and education.
We thank God for helping us to realize that if we removed Christ, family, and teachers from the lives of our children there is no way that adding more police officers, legislating more laws, building more jails, requiring more testing, mandating more parental involvement, earning more money, or purchasing more things could ever replace the blessings of God, the love of our family, and the knowledge imparted by our teachers.
A hundred years from now it will not matter what type of house we lived in, what color our skin was, how much money we had or what brand of clothes we wore, but what will matter is that we steadfastly walked in the ways of Christ, that we honored and loved our parents, family, and fellow man and that we lived by our school motto”
Exhibit 2: A newsletter from the same school asking for prayer and quoting a Bible verse:
Exhibit 3: Another newsletter from the same school saying that a local church is sponsoring an event that all students must attend tomorrow:
Does anyone seriously think he’s going to avoid any mentions of his God during his “positive educational message”?
Exhibit 4: A picture on the Caddo Parish’s website featuring North Caddo High School’s State Champion Girls Basketball team… wearing shirts that say “In God We Trust” (with a Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, underneath):
(A higher-resolution image is here)
Yesterday, the ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter to Dr. Theodis Lamar Goree, Jr., the Superintendent of the Caddo Parish Schools, urging him to remove the religious references from the schools’ websites and remind faculty and administration that they may not promote religion in the workplace:
There is no question that the Principal [Albert Hardison] has violated these legal mandates by repeatedly invoking God, prayer, and Christianity throughout official school publications. No school employee may tell a student what religion to practice or even to practice religion at all, nor may a school official tell students or their families to teach any religious texts. This unlawful religious coercion is improper from any school employee but it is particularly egregious coming from the school Principal, whose job is to teach and uphold, rather than violate, the legal rights of all.
Note that the ACLU didn’t even mention the athletes’ shirts or Exhibit 3 above. Or the mention of God by another principal in the district.
Still, these are just the most egregious examples and it’s hard to see how the Superintendent can defend any of it. Ball’s in his court now.
(Thanks to Randall for the link)