Principals in America no longer have excuse for squashing religious freedom?
But now Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, has announced it is sending 99,750 copies – one for literally every public school in America – of an exhaustive guide on religious liberty in school to principals, vice principals and school administrators around the country. Thousands of sponsors have made the mass mailing possible.
“Over the past few years, Liberty Counsel has seen a surge of complaints from school administrators, educators and students, whose rights were egregiously violated,” said the organization in a statement. “Secular activists attempt to remove religious expression from our public schools, indoctrinate students in alternative lifestyles and bully through intimidation and blatant misrepresentation. To be proactive in countering this growing threat, Liberty Counsel developed and distributed the ‘Patriot’s Handbook of Religious Freedom in Public Schools.’
“This booklet,” the organization explains, “clarifies the rights of students to pray, form Bible clubs and engage in religious expression in public schools, including holiday celebrations and the rights of teachers, parents and guardians.”
“The public school is not a faith-free zone,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Students need not leave their spiritual beliefs on the schoolhouse steps. Liberty Counsel is here to educate and, if need be, litigate to defend their First Amendment rights.”
America’s public school system, which had long included religious elements such as daily prayer and even biblical passages and stories as part of the common primers from which many of our nation’s presidents learned to read, faced a significant crisis of faith in 1962 and 1963 when a pair of landmark Supreme Court cases first found unconstitutional state-sponsored prayer in schools, then struck down Bible readings and other state-sponsored religious activities.
By having the guidebook in hand or on file, the organization hopes, schools will look to sound advice on protecting religious liberty when confronted by activist organizations that demand students, teachers or community groups be silenced.
“Our nation’s public schools must allow the full and free exercise of every American’s First Amendment rights to free speech, free association and religious expression,” Liberty Counsel states. “There must never be restraints or prohibitions on any American expressing religious sentiments in public settings. There is no place in our democracy for anti-religious bigotry.”
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