The Washington County School District in Florida seems to have no idea how the law works. According to a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, here’s what one parent said was taking place at Vernon High School
The letter includes several complaints, including a teacher promoting the sale of religious t-shirts, teachers requiring students to transcribe Bible chapters from the Book of John, and displaying a banner with a Bible verse on the football field.
Transcribing Bible verses from the Gospels? What’s the secular purpose for that? I don’t know and the District didn’t explain.
The letter also stated that a coach was leading prayers for his team and there were prayers at graduation.
You might be able to rationalize a couple of those things — maybe all local non-profits and businesses can purchase banner ads on the football field, for example, in which case I know some Satanists in the area… — but there’s no excuse for the coach-led prayers. And the Bible verse transcription needs a damn good explanation. Some of these things are Church/State Separation 101.
Superintendent Joseph Taylor said the District’s attorney would look at the issues, but he added that not everything could be addressed right now:
“If that person should deliver a prayer, we don’t censor it in any way and we don’t review it,” Taylor said. “That’s something we are required to not do.”
“The main thing was student-led prayer. Those won’t be handled until spring, so there is some timing,” Taylor said. “The issues related to the banner within the stadium… that probably needs some immediate clarification.”
If that line about not reviewing or censoring something is referring to graduation addresses, you should know that not reviewing graduations speeches in advance has been a loophole for districts to use if they want to get away with a student leading the crowd in prayer.
The most interesting thing about this whole story is that the parent who contacted FFRF is religious.
… The problem with religion in schools is that you run the risk of a Catholic teacher confusing Baptist students, or a Lutheran teacher confusing Mormon students, or a Buddhist teacher confusing Muslim students. Religion should be taught in church and in the home, not in the school. I am disturbed that Vernon has received similar complaints in the past, yet has continued to flagrantly ignore the law regarding which religious practices are and are not allowed in schools. I hope this serves as a wake up call for them.
Me too. The District hasn’t issued a response yet, but with school starting up, they’ll have to figure all this out before it gets too late.
(via Raw Story)