It started when an outraged parent of a second-grader went to the American Humanist Association (AHA) for assistance in suing the school for allowing a principal to pray at a graduation ceremony. It wasn’t just that the principal Lisa Patterson prayed, but apparently she ended her praying with “in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.” Oh, and also there was a sign on school grounds with “Jesus” written on it.
According to the AHA, these are both instances of violations of the Constitution’s establishment clause found in the 1st Amendment. In their long and boring letter to the Georgia school district and principals, they provide a litany of court cases that support the idea that any Christian prayers offered in public schools – even if they’re completely voluntary and/or student-initiated – constitute an endorsement of Christianity and leads to “coercion” of other students and “peer pressure” to accept Christianity. The Daily Caller reported:
Monica Miller, a lawyer for the AHA’s legal branch, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that it would be “shocking” if the school doesn’t back down because they have clearly violated the Establishment clause.
“One can only infer that the school district or the school board is saying ‘we support Christianity’ when they see that sign there,” Miller told The DCNF. “I assume the case would involve suing the principal and other officials involved in their personal capacity as well as their professional capacity.”
“Federal circuit courts have been nearly unanimous in concluding that prayers delivered at primary and secondary public school graduations violate the Establishment Clause, even when they are student-initiated and student-led,” the letter reads.
It might be worthwhile to revisit the 1st Amendment, especially the “Establishment Clause”:
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.
It’s funny. Nowhere in the AHA’s 11-page letter do they even mention the first word of the First Amendment. They say a lot about the “Establishment Clause,” but nothing about to whom this Establishment Clause is directed. It’s directed to Congress. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. It doesn’t say anything about schoolteachers or even about state governments or other government agencies. The federal government is prohibited from making a federal law establishing an official religion. Historically, Christianity was mainly all there was at the time the Bill of Rights was written. They didn’t want the federal government picking a particular denomination for the entire country. States would have been allowed to do so, just not the federal government.
Nowadays, the 1st Amendment apparently means if you work for the state or federal government in any capacity whatsoever, you’d better not mention anything about your religious faith, particularly if you happen to be a Christian. What a tolerant group of people Atheists are.