Students, teachers and local pastors are protesting over a court case involving a northern Florida school principal and an athletic director who are facing criminal charges and up to six months in jail over their offer of a mealtime prayer.
UPDATE 9/18/09: Judge rules against ACLU - school faculty not guilty
-- From "School prayer charges stir protests" by Julia Duin, Washington Times 8/14/09
There have been yard signs, T-shirts and a mass student protest during graduation ceremonies this spring on behalf of Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and school athletic director Robert Freeman, who will go on trial Sept. 17 at a federal district court in Pensacola for breaching the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union.
An ACLU official said the school district has allowed "flagrant" violations of the First Amendment for years.
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.
The ACLU brought the matter to the attention of U.S. District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers, who issued a contempt order for the two men.
Meanwhile, members of the small community of Milton, Fla., where Pace High School is located, have contributed more than $10,000 toward a legal defense fund for the defendants.
Anti-ACLU T-shirts are also being sold and the proceeds donated.
Judge Rodgers' order also included Michelle Winkler, a 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.
Her trial, which could result in a fine, is scheduled for Aug. 21.
To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.