Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Christians Sue School over Collusion with ACLU

A Florida school district is being accused in a lawsuit of making a deal with the ACLU to criminalize "protected religious expression," banning students from saying "God bless" and forcing teachers to "hide in closets to pray."

UPDATE 7/2/11: Freedom of religion restored at Florida school

UPDATE 3/21/11: Federal judge grants preliminary injunction against school and orders trial

-- From "Group sues School Board over prayer decree" by Louis Cooper, Pensacola News Journal 5/5/10

A conservative activist group on Tuesday sued the Santa Rosa County School District, seeking to overturn an agreement between the district and the American Civil Liberties Union that bans staff-led religious activities in schools.

The ACLU, on behalf of two unnamed students, sued the district in 2008, claiming that Pace High School officials violated the U.S. Constitution by regularly promoting their personal religious beliefs and leading prayers at school events.

District officials admitted the claims and entered into a consent decree with the ACLU, agreeing that school officials would not take part in religious activities involving students. The prohibitions include participating in prayers, promoting religious services and holding school functions in religious institutions when other adequate facilities are available.

The Orlando-based Liberty Counsel filed suit Tuesday in federal court in Pensacola seeking to overturn the decree, which was approved by federal Judge Casey Rodgers,

The group says in a news release that the decree violates the First Amendment rights of "two dozen individuals, including teachers, staff, students, former students, parents, volunteers and pastors, all of whom have been silenced, censored, intimidated or harassed."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "School sued after teachers hide in closets to pray" by Bob Unruh © 2010 WorldNetDaily 5/4/10

The original issue was that two students – whose names were withheld – complained that staff or faculty members were expressing their religious views at places such as off-campus dinners to honor school workers.

Liberty Counsel lawyers said they volunteered to work for free for the school to protect the First Amendment rights at issue.

"But the school district decided instead to shake hands with the ACLU, pay the ACLU $200,000 in legal fees, and voluntarily enter into the Consent Decree that obliterates religious freedom and makes a mockery of the First Amendment," Liberty Counsel said in its description of the conflict.

Since then, three school officials have faced civil and criminal contempt charges demanded by the ACLU and the school district but have been cleared.

The decree, however, still is having impacts.

"Students can no longer say 'God Bless,' teachers must hide in closets to pray, parents cannot communicate frankly with teachers, volunteers cannot answer any questions regarding religion, Christian groups cannot rent school facilities for private religious functions benefiting students, and pastors are dictated how they can and cannot seat their audiences at private, religious baccalaureate services held inside their own houses of worship," Liberty Counsel said.

The dispute remains volatile. WND reported only days ago that Liberty Counsel confirmed it was "game over" because the ACLU admitted in court documents that the two anonymous plaintiffs graduated from the district's Pace High School in May 2009, effectively ending the court's jurisdiction in the case.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.