The ACLU is an organization that, personally, I do not like. But in some cases, their views need to be considered. Could they be right in certain circumstances? More than likely. But their hawk-eyes on school systems, and our culture in general, is usually appalling as we see overzealous work in eliminating religion. This elimination is impossible, because so-called “no religion” is actually atheism, and atheism is a religion.
But the ACLU has come down hard on Jonesboro High School in Arkansas after Senior Jessica Reed gave an “altar call” in her prayer during the graduation ceremonies. This prayer was on the school program.
“In the closing moments of this service, if you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, here’s your chance,” said senior Jessica Reed in her Southern accent on a May 20, 2005 taped video of JHS graduation ceremonies.
Earlier in her prayer, she told the students about God.
“I’m here to tell you that God is someone, that he is amazing,” said Reed during her speech, “He will love you through everything. He will praise you when you are down. All you have to do is give your heart to Him. And before we leave, I want to give you that opportunity.”
But now, the ACLU is looking for a plaintiff in a case against Jonesboro High School. Arkansas ACLU executive director Rita Sklar, described the event as a “blatant display of contempt for the First Amendment.”
Now, it’s interesting to note here, before we look at the school’s response, what Stop the ACLU said in regards to this complaint:
“Notice that no one came out and said they were offended? They are looking for someone to come out and say they were offended,” said writer Jay of Stop the ACLU, “They are shopping for a plaintiff, to further their agenda of censorship. This school did not endorse this student’s prayer, they just didn’t censor it. What seems to be the common argument among the left is that if a certain religion, most often Christianity, is not censored at a government sponsored event, then it is automatically endorsed. I guess they expect the school to police the student’s thoughts.”
Now the school’s response is very interesting.
“Our policy is to not recognize any particular religion and not to recognize religion, period,” said Jonesboro Public Schools Attorney Donn Mixon., “In this case, the student was on the school program as giving a prayer, and that does go against our policies.”
Now, is this a violation of the First Amendment? Is it wrong to give an “altar call” in a public school? Are schools to “police” the thoughts of students?
My first thought is whether or not the ACLU would be jumping on this school if a student had prayed as a Muslim and invited the students to say the Five Pillars of Islam with him?
That also brings us to another conclusion and fact in this matter. If we as Christians disagree with the ACLU here, then we must be open to allowing other religions to speak their minds at graduation speeches. They would be allowed to look for converts in their speeches.
It reminds me somewhat to Dr. Mohler’s defense of one of the most liberal churches in the United States. He was fighting for their freedom to preach what they wanted from the pulpit.
Do we have the same freedom in schools?
It’s interesting to look back at the fact that it seems no one except the ACLU was offended by the girl’s speech:
“It has occurred from time to time that students speak their mind about religion, or about prayer at graduation. The problem comes when the school recognizes that,” said Mixon, “And we had a lapse where our policy about prayer was apparently not followed that is still being investigated, but we can assure the ACLU and the public that that will not happen again.”
We need to remember that “separation of church and state” has changed in meaning just as tolerance has. Separation of Church and State means that the government cannot establish a State religion. They can’t endorse a single denomination–not neccesarily a religion. But now, the ACLU has the misguided idea that their must be no religion, especially Christianity, in schools. The ACLU, in many cases, is very hypocritical.
In this case, there does not seem to be an endorsement of a single religion. They just allowed the girl to speak her mind, and I would have no objection to it. You have to consider the facts, and true law, and the past of the ACLU.
Our forefather’s were escaping from State Churches which forced them to worship God in ways they did not believe were right. That is what the founding father’s were thinking about when they wrote the Constitution. And mind you, “Separation of Church and State” isn’t mentioned once in that document. It’s made up.
So, what is the final word? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.