Friday, February 13, 2015

HS Student Disciplined For Saying "God Bless America"

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On Monday of this week, a high school student in Florida read the announcements over the intercom at the beginning of the school day.

That's typical---it happens every week. In lots of schools.

However, when the student completed reading the announcements, he said, "God bless America."


Two atheist students became angry and contacted, not the school, but the American Humanist Association, which in turn had their advocate organization fire off a very strong letter to the principle and the school district.

Sharyl Wood, a district spokesperson, explained to the press that "the words 'God bless America' were not part of the script."

She also assured everyone that the principal had taken "appropriate steps in speaking with the student and with disciplining the student."

Disciplining the student?

For what?

The apparent reason for the school taking action against the student was for fear of a lawsuit by the atheists.

Atheist organizations threaten about 1,000 lawsuits every year, but only have funding to actually proceed on a very small number of them.

Threat has become their preferred method of bullying school districts. It's both cheap and effective.

But does a student not have any right to free speech?

The "official" reason for the school taking action against the student is very alarming.

First Coast News, owned by Gannet News organization, is trying to minimize and play down the episode saying the media tried to make too much of it.

Todd Starnes at Fox News is asking, "What's the penalty these days for asking God to bless America?"

The letter from the atheist organization is both direct and threatening.

Among other things, it warns the school with this: "It is inappropriate and unlawful for a public school to start the school day with an official statement over the intercom stating 'God bless America', for such a statement affirms Godbelief, validates a theistic world view, and is invidious toward atheists and other non-believers."

The atheists claim the school sponsored message sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherants that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, while giving the message to those who are Godbelievers that they are favored and insiders.

There's more, but the message is that the school is discriminating by allowing someone to say "God bless America" and is violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

This is the response from Principal Natasha Drake to the atheists:

“Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I want to point out that the statement "God Bless America, keep us safe" that was made last week on the morning announcements was not approved by school Administration nor was it in the scripted announcements. The student on his own accord made the statement. I have called the student in this morning and directed him that at no time is he to add or take away from announcements that have been pre-approved and that if he did it again, he would no longer have the privilege of making the morning announcements. I am disappointed that the students who filed the complaint did not do so with me first, as I would have addressed it immediately. Once again, thank you for bringing this concern to my attention. It is our desire and intention to respect the beliefs and constitutional freedoms of all our students at Yulee High School.”

Clearly the statement, "God bless America" is a problem with the atheists.

But does a Christian or patriotic student have no rights?

Spokesperson Wood explained, "As an official representative of a government agency, schools aren't allowed to promote or inhibit religion. Individual students are certainly permitted to express their religious beliefs but not on behalf of the government body."

Attorney Jeremy Dys with Liberty Institute told Fox, "The atheists don't have a prayer" on this case.

Perhaps not in court, but that's a moot point because the school immediately caved in and apologized and promised never to allow "God bless America" to be heard over the government's intercom.

Dys says, "Whether a student is being patriotic or engaging in religious speech, there is no law in this country forbidding a student from telling his or her classmates, 'God bless America' and it is illegal for a school to censor a student for doing so."

He says, "Regardless of this attempt by secularists to white wash over this demonstration of patriotism by a teenager, America's students do not give up their right to free speech and the expression of their religious beliefs when they go to school."

This is concerning. And the concern is not unique to today.

More than a hundred years ago, Charles F. Potter, a humanist and Unitarian pastor, wrote this:
"Education is a most powerful ally of humanism, and every American school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday Schools, meeting for an hour, once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?" from "Humanism, America's New Religion", 1930

More than a hundred years ago, Dr. AA Hodge of Princeton University expressed deep concern about the direction of public, or government education. He said this:

“I am as sure as I am of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has never seen.”
― A.A. Hodge

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful.


  1. These stories about poor persecuted Christians not being able to shove their religion in everyone else's face are getting pretty old. It's obvious the kid injected religion where it didn't belong. It's not a free speech issue at all. He was acting as an approved spokesperson for the school and reading an approved script. He knowingly violated policy and varied from the script. Some people complained. If he had made a reference to Allah, a greater number would have complained. And if he had used this forum to declare that there is no God, I'm pretty certain you wouldn't feel the same about 'free speech' and would be chastising the 'government run' school for promoting atheism. The best answer is to just stop trying to force religion where it doesn't belong and only serves to divide.

  2. So I wonder if it's OK to say, "So have a good morning."? Would that be inappropriate because it would affirm that mornings exist? And I suppose these atheists want us all to believe that all any student (or even someone who is not a student at the school) would have to do is say that they are just not a morning person, and so such a statement such as "good morning" is inappropriate, and thereby they could write a threatening letter that could bring a justified lawsuit against them, a long drawn out, expensive, troublesome legal battle. Are we supposed to just about feel the ground shaking beneath our feet at that kind of a threat?

    I believe every school in America has the right to affirm that God exists, for that in itself in no way establishes any particular religion.

    Yet these hypocrites want to establish their own religion of some crazy notion and superstition that would say that God does not exist, and that in the whole public school system, something that is not in their realm of authority, for we still have a constitution that protects a student's right to bless another in God's name.

    Such bullying by the atheists is against the constitutional rights of the school and students, as well as common sense. Maybe they should go find a real job or something wherewith they could better occupy themselves, and stop troubling the public schools.

    Maybe it's time the schools threatened them with some kind of no contact order or something. I'm thinking it should hold up in court.

  3. The principal could be sued by the student or parents of the student it seems to me. Certainly the principal became a bully to the student because someone first bullied them. The student's constitutional rights were violated.

  4. I remember when we used to sing God Bless America in school. That was back when we exercised our constitutional rights. Maybe it's time to do that again.

  5. It seems to me that public schools have the responsibility to educate and train students in the exercise of their constitutional rights, just as much as a basketball coach has a responsibility to see that the team practices and not just studies the game.

    The principal should give the students the ball and watch them go with it.

  6. It seems to me that some principals don't know the rules very well to this game of education. Maybe that's why they act as if they are afraid to officiate as judges to see that it's all done legally and fairly, and that no student is harmed by any violation of their constitutional rights.

  7. Our constitution is under attack by hungry wolves who hate the constitution, and will also bite at the first appearance or sign of a violation of it. It's being done in the name of destruction.

    They are employed by the thief, being used by him, and they will not be able to survive on the wages of their actions.

  8. May God bless America!

  9. So if we happen to drive by a public school that has a sign near the road, and we happen to read it and it says something like, "Read a good book this summer.", or "Have a safe holiday.", are we supposed to get up in arms about how the school is "forcing kids to do some homework that isn't even a part of the regular assignments." or that they are "making children by force to practice safety"? No. We don't have to follow atheists. They don't make any sense.

  10. I think public schools should put on their sign (if they have one) "God exists. May he bless our school."

  11. Psalm 2:1-5. Maybe when verse 5 happens to them, they will be turned from darkness to light, and maybe they will be required to stand against those whom they once stood with, and then come to the understanding of Psalm 3.

  12. I believe every living thing in America has the inalienable right to declare the glory of God, and that every man that has breath has the right to acknowledge God, no matter of his position, job, or lack of either. I believe our constitution protects such freedom, until for one reason or another the thing withers and dies, and even then the constitution continues, and should be in force as a law of liberty for this land that God shed his grace on.

    When men misuse their God given liberty to say things contrary to the truth, and say things that do not honor God, those things are damaging, and are an abuse and misuse of the right to freedom of speech. Yet we forebear one another. We often tolerate a lot as we speak against such things.

    I believe the right to freedom of speech was put in place in order that truth, righteousness, and peace might prevail against tyranny and it's oppression.

    Isn't that the purpose of the constitution? May America not loose her constitution concerning it's constitution.

    I remember a storm that blew. It had a high steady wind that sustained, and sustained, and sustained. They called it Constitution.

  13. I was thinking that if a school had a sign that said "Praise the God of heaven and earth.", I think that would be fine, (such a thing establishes no particular religion) and if a few students complained about it, all the principal has to say is that it's not a requirement at the school, but is only a suggestion, an encouragement to a worthy endeavor. It's not a requirement.

    But if the majority complained about it, and on that basis the principal had it changed, and I was a Christian student there, I don't think I should complain. I don't think I would because our constitution and my faith isn't about forcing or compelling anyone. I think in that situation, I should be glad that I am one of the few, and I think that would be good reason to get together with the few, and start a Bible reading and prayer group after class and see if we could meet in one of the classrooms as an extra curricular activity.

    We have a good constitution. All we have to do is live it out.

    And what if I came to school one day and the sign said, " Worship Buddha, or Jupiter, or Mars"?
    I would complain unless the majority of students there want it. If that's what the majority of the students, want, or if they are fine with that, though I wouldn't like it, I believe I would be fine with it, and I think it would be a good time to try to connect with any Christian students there and organize a Bible reading and prayer group, as an extra curricular activity, and hope to be able to use one of the classrooms.

    It seems to me that all a principal should have to do if a student makes a complaint is to take a survey of the students and find out what the majority wants about the situation, and make a decision on that basis. If they are fine with an encouragement to honor the Creator, in that language, (calling
    God the Creator) he could find that out also, and in that language, it would not be to establish any particular religion, or denomination, but would simply be a general word of encouragement, not something that would be enforced in any way. It would simply be considered a good suggestion for those who would like to practice some of their constitutionally protected freedom of speech and religious liberty.

    I believe making prayer illegal in schools is unconstitutional. I believe we have let the door a bit open and the enemy got his foot in, years ago, and so now we see the trouble we now have.

    It was a mistake to have let that happen, and I believe now is a good time to see that get fixed no matter how long it may take. Light is greater than darkness, and it's time for the children of light to push back the darkness.

    I listened to the long version of Bob Segar's Katmandu. It's about a man that had some determination about something, about going somewhere, to a mountain or whatever. I don't know if he ever made it there, but he certainly seemed determined to get there, even as much as Paul the apostle was determined to go to Jerusalem, and although we can disagree as to whether or not he should go or not when we read about it , (that's even in the Bible) I think we all should agree on his determination. He had constitution.

  14. I believe the kingdom of God is founded on justice and judgment. It is upon that, it's foundation, where it is established, and I believe our constitution had that also in mind. I trust the founders of this nation wanted the kingdom of God to have a good foothold here. I believe most of them wanted it to have it's roots down deep, right here.

  15. I thank God for the wise founders America had.

  16. The best we can do for America is to give the kingdom of heaven a place to take root, according to our constitution. I believe that's what they had in mind.

  17. So the school wants to enforce a script, and call that education? That's not liberty.

  18. Question 1.
    Is every public school system required by law to prohibit every religious expression by every student at all times? (if so, what is that law?)

    It seems to me that it's one thing to not promote a particular religion and quite another to prohibit the free exercise of one. The two are not the same.
    I believe one may do one without doing the other.

    When I was in the US Army, the practice of religion was encouraged, but no particular religion or denomination was promoted. It was encouraged because these were soldiers who made a commitment to support and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and were prepared to go into harm's way and make the ultimate sacrifice if necessary, and so because there is a God, given the situation at hand, religion was encouraged. *

    Why should a public school system operate any differently? Are students not covered by the same constitution? Are they not also funded by tax dollars?

    It seems to me that any student who is denied any constitutional right by a school system, if they have a basic understanding of constitutional rights, that they could write out their points, and with a little homework, be prepared to debate the matter openly, even with the school principal.

    A student might want to invite the school principal to an open debate on this particular subject, before the entire student body and school faculty. If students worked together on this project, for preparation for one to debate, I'm thinking it could be a great success.

    It might take some study, and some gathering of information about school policy, laws, and some foundational work on constitutional rights, but a small group of students working together could cover most if not all of the bases, and if the matter is not settled in one debate, how about another one later on?

    When I got out of the Army, I took a few classes at a community college. One of my classes was on individual income tax, which was an evening class. There was someone behind me who was asking questions and I could tell they did not do their homework. I turned around to see who it was.
    Now, I'm often accused of not being the brightest bulb in the package, and so I was surprised to see that the one who was asking all the (what I considered to be ignorant) questions, was my old high school principal.
    *There may be some who think that Christians shouldn't be in the military, but I believe David was supposed to face Goliath. I believe there is such a thing as shepherding, and what a shepherd does is protect the sheep as well as care for them, for sheep are defenseless creatures compared to wolves who come for them.

    I found an interesting video on you tube about a dog who killed two wolves.

    In this world there are wolves, shepherds, and sheepdogs. There is also an interesting talk by an army officer about this subject, one may find.

  19. As far as the state or a public school system separating itself from the establishment of religion, it's not because religion is not something of value, for it is. It's not because religion is something that is not desirable, or that it does not have virtue, not at all.

    Rather it's because the virtue and benefit of religion is too high and mighty to be handled by the state or a public school system. That is why the separation.

    Just as players on a team have their own position they play, and each play their own position on the team, so also do each of us have our position to play. If we try to play in another's position on the team, we might get injured, or injure another.

    However the state and public school system has the responsibility to protect religious freedom and the free exercise thereof.

    It should be up to the higher powers, the powers of heaven to establish religion when two or more are gathered together to engage with the Creator in spiritual matters.

    If students want to pray together at school, they may meet at the flagpole and pray together. They may meet anywhere they are permitted to meet together for whatever free time they may have, and pray. Free time is quite short during school hours. The great majority of the time is structured for organized learning and study.

    Therefore extra curricular time should be given for that purpose, to any and all students who wish to engage with the Maker of heaven and earth in spiritual guidance, learning, and understanding, and a space should be given for that purpose as well as the time after regular school hours. This may be a classroom and the school should have many of them.

    The meetings should be organized by students, and parents should be informed as to the activity of the students during those times by the students themselves, and the parents should have control over their children as to when they may do so, or when not to do so.

    The school system should act as a protector of every student's constitutional rights, and mediate, and intervene when necessary, and be willing to look into any complaint by any student about any constitutional rights being violated, of any complaint about mistreatment, or oppression of any kind.

  20. It seems to me that if a school offers students time and classrooms for extra curricular exercise of their freedom of religion, that if the students involved would like to invite a pastor, or Sunday school teacher to the meetings, that they certainly should be able to do so, and if they should like to decide to invite another one instead, they also should have that right as a group. They might even decide to elect their own board, if they want. It should be up to them, and not up to he public school system, for such things are not in their realm of authority or responsibility.

    As with all extra curricular activities, parents should be informed as to what is available. Maybe school faculty should be invited to be around during those times to act as security, and have some oversight only to the extent that constitutional rights are not violated by anyone in any way, unless they are invited by the students to participate in a more active way, but somebody should be there for the students from the faculty just in case they are needed and to be able to see that things are being run decently and in order, since this would be happening on school property.

  21. It seems to me that some people believe preventing people from praying in public places helps protect the free expression of religious liberty, but that's not how it works.

    What boggles the mind is how they actually think by doing that, that they are protecting the constitution.

    May I actually say that I think they are backwards?

    Do you suppose when the founders of this nation prayed in their meetings, that they actually forced people to pray? I certainly don't believe that.
    It seems to me that they actually were against that sort of thing, and so they put something in the constitution something protecting the free exercise of religion, which I believe also means that people may freely abstain.

    There's something about a king's law of liberty that reminds me of Jesus.
    Here it is from the book of Esther:

    And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.
    And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.


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