Saturday, March 12, 2011

School Fights ACLU's Demand Against Prayer

Despite daunting legal costs, a Rhode Island school board respected the will of its taxpayers to maintain a half-century-old prayer painted on the wall of the auditorium, not yielding to atheists' threats and faulty interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

For background, read the initial school reaction months earlier: School Yields First Amendment to ACLU

UPDATE 3/6/12: School won't appeal decision so banner is placed in storage, while the School agrees to pay ACLU $150,000 for legal fees

UPDATE 1/25/12: Federal judge agrees with atheist, orders prayer banner removed; citizens favor appeal by school to retain banner

UPDATE 1/26/12 News video:

UPDATE 5/27/11: ACLU pleads before judge for prayer removal

UPDATE 4/5/11: ACLU files lawsuit for 16-year-old atheist girl against school

-- From "School prayer banner stays on display" by Brian Crandall, TV-10 Providence, RI 3/8/11

The Cranston School Committee voted [4 to 3] Monday night to keep a prayer banner on public display at a city high school, even if it means a costly legal battle.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said it will sue if the banner remains, because it violates the constitution's principle of separation of church and state. The banner has hung on the auditorium wall at Cranston West for about 50 years.

The meeting of about 200 people was filled with mostly supporters, many who say it is religiously right to keep it up.

"This country was built, as you all know, on moral and religious principles, which are clearly emulated on that banner," said School Committee member Michael Traficante.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "School Committee Decides to Defend Banner" by Andrew Metcalf, Cranston Patch 3/8/11

“Swastikas offend me,” said School Committee member Frank Lombardi, “Burning of flags offend me, but a positive moral message that a child can choose or not choose to read certainly does not offend me.”

David Bradley, Cranston West class of 1963, the author of the prayer, spoke about its origins. He said he was tasked to write the prayer and the creed as a student council member in 1960 at the request of his advisor and the school administration.

Lisa French, a Cranston resident . . . warned the School Committee in a raised voice that their vote may affect them later. “On judgment day you will be judged when you stand before almighty God.”

After, she returned to her seat to a chorus of applause.

[School Committee chairman Andrea Iannazzi said,] “This country was founded not on freedom from religion, but on freedom of religion. Each person has the ability to practice whatever religion they want, that does not mean they have freedom from religions being practiced.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Rhode Island School District Battles ACLU Over Prayer Banner" by Dave Bohon, The New American 3/10/11

After several months of discussion on how to respond to the liberal legal group’s unsettling demand, the school committee ultimately took the advice of the thousands of local residents who had signed a petition in support of the banner, voting to allow the high school banner, as well as a similar one at the local middle school, to continue offering silent entreaty from the school’s auditorium wall.

School superintendent Peter L. Nero, who had originally suggested that the district avoid a legal fight by simply rewording the prayer to eliminate the offending "Our Heavenly Father" and "Amen," said he now thinks the banner is worth fighting to save. "I’m not saying that we won’t settle for something else," he said, but "no fight to me would be losing by default."

Some legal observers speculated that ultimately a conservative legal advocacy group such as the American Center for Law and Justice or the Alliance Defense Fund, both of which have had years of experience in defending individuals and organizations against the machinations of the ACLU, will step forward to defend the school district.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.