Lead a Prayer, Go Straight to Jail
Here is an interesting case. Two school officials are being brought up on criminal charges in Florida.
For changing grades for money? No.
For selling drugs? No.
For fooling around with students? No.
So why are they facing six months in jail?
The article linked states that the criminal charges, which carry up to a $5,000 fine and a six-month
jail term, originated with a Jan. 28 incident in which Mr. Lay, a
deacon at a local Baptist church, asked Mr. Freeman to offer mealtime
prayers at a lunch for school employees and booster-club members who
had helped with a school field-house project. (note: the article is mysteriously unclear whether or not this meal was held on school property or not)
As a result, the wonderful ACLU has brought up charges against these officials citing a violation of the First Amendment which states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Furthermore, the district also agreed to forbid senior class President Mary Allen
from speaking at the school’s May 30 graduation ceremony on the chance
that the young woman, a known Christian, might say something religious. To me, this is shocking. This student was punished for something she hadn’t even done. It’s amazing that this blatant violation of the student’s rights is seen as okay. I haven’t heard any outrage. Have you? It’s like I’m watching Minority Report.
In addition, also named in the charges is a school clerical assistant who was attending a school district event in February with other school
employees at a local naval base. There, she asked her husband to offer
a blessing for a meal, says the ACLU, adding that students were present
and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Back to the original charges…
So is praying in these settings that may be school sponsored functions a violation of the First Amendment or is this simply a witch hunt indicative of the religious bigotry that seems to be building in our country?
It’s interesting that the First Amendment says, “…respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Is this respecting or prohibiting? Is praying ‘establishing’ religion? Or is banning prayer prohibiting the ‘free exercise’ of it?
Which one is this?