There’s an ongoing lawsuit against Louisiana’s Bossier Parish School Board and Superintendent Scott Smith, filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, claiming that the District has violated the Constitution in a number of different ways.
For example, Smith mandated that all football players stand during the National Anthem, preventing any form of a peaceful protest. There are Christian prayers recited over the loudspeakers before football games, something the Supreme Court has already ruled is illegal. School events are held at churches, choir performances include (almost exclusively) Christian worship music, Creationism is promoted in the classroom, etc.
Any one of those things would be a problem. This District is doing all of them. That’s why a coalition of six different atheist groups warned Smith about the concerns, and that’s why AU ultimately filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of four families with students in the District.
There were multiple prayer rallies held yesterday, in both Bossier Parish and Webster Parish (the site of another church/state separation problem), with the goal of letting students know their First Amendment rights… which is a fancy way of saying government officials took part in rallies letting Christians know when pushing their faith on everyone else is okay.
Here’s the incredible thing: Earlier this morning, Congressman Mike Johnson and Attorney General Jeff Landry (both Republicans) appeared on 101.7 / 710 KEEL to discuss the rallies. Their aim was to reiterate the message about students’ religious freedoms because those damn atheists want to keep you down.
Instead, they inadvertently endorsed AU’s case for the listening audience.
Here’s what Landry and Johnson said was perfectly legal: Students praying before a test, students leading prayer, Religious clubs forming on campus. What’s not legal? Teachers leading prayers in classrooms, priests leading prayers at graduation, etc. A student also couldn’t be invited to pray at graduation in advance, but if, say, the valedictorian ∑as invited to speak and she decided to pray on stage, the district couldn’t be sued over that.
All of that is precisely what church/state separation groups have always said. The Republicans insisted atheists were trying to confuse everybody, but it looks like everyone is on the same page after all!
Johnson and Landry never mentioned that the lawsuits in question involve formal prayers over the loudspeakers before football games, prayers led by pastors in students’ locker rooms, post-game prayers led by coaches, proselytizing by teachers in the classroom, or a school-sanctioned “vote” on prayers at graduation.
Probably because all those things are indeed illegal.
I guess the Republicans just forgot to talk about that.
At one point, co-host Erin McCarty asked the men about the taxpayer money involved in these lawsuits — since a victory for the church/state separation groups means a loss of money for the districts.
The response was incredible.
The men talked about what the districts needed to do to avoid the lawsuits. (These were presumably the secrets atheists were hiding from everyone.)
… They have to stay within the legal guidelines, and when a line has been crossed, they have to acknowledge it and fix it. Adopt the policies. Bossier and Webster [are] in the process of revising their written policies that hadn’t been updated in a few years, and they’re gonna do all that. That’s gonna moot the case. It should. And it should take it out of the taxpayers’ concern, and it should get them safely within the lines…
So, the districts need to fix the problems and that will make the lawsuits go away…?
That’s exactly what the church/state separation groups have been saying this whole time! (The lawsuits are filed only after the district refuses to follow those rules.)
Hey, AU and FFRF, if you’re ever looking for spokespeople, you should hire these guys since they’re parroting everything you’ve ever said.
At another point in the interview, McCarty asked if students could lead prayers over the loudspeaker before football games. The men offered a potential solution: If a neutral criteria was offered — say the school allowed the student body president to speak before all football games — and the student just happened to lead everyone in prayer, it would be perfectly legal.
Listen to McCarty’s reaction afterwards. She accidentally reveals the con: “So y’all are giving us a little secret on how to do it around the rules!”
Yes. That’s what they’re trying to do. They know loudspeaker prayers are illegal, but they’re letting school administrators know that as long as there’s plausible deniability, no one can accuse them of pushing religion on everyone, even though that’s precisely what’s happening and everyone knows it.
This is what Christian honesty looks like these days.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)