A public high school in Concord, New Hampshire is not going to allow a parent to pray and read the Bible aloud on the steps of the school when students are arriving, as they apparently did for months previously. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter about it, which finally prompted them to stop it.
School officials have told the mother of two high school students that she may no longer deliver speeches on the front steps of Concord High School as students enter the building each morning.
Lizarda Urena’s speeches were in the form of prayers and Bible readings. Superintendent Christine Rath said they won’t be allowed to resume in the fall.
The ADF has a profoundly absurd position on it:
Nonsense. No one should ever be allowed to stand on school property and give a speech on any subject to students except at the invitation of the school. The content is irrelevant. It would be just as inappropriate if it was a parent giving a political talk or reading out of the classified section for that matter. And I guarantee you that if this parent was reading from the Quran and reciting Muslim prayers, the ADF would not only not be defending her, it would be throwing a tantrum about it. That’s the difference between, say, the ACLU and the ADF; the latter would be opposed to this regardless of the religion, while the ADF is only in favor of it if it’s a Christian.
A lawyer for a group that defends religious speech says if the school district didn’t initially object to Urena speaking at the Concord High front door, and later responded to the content of her speech, then it has engaged in illegal viewpoint discrimination.
“Students and community members that are allowed to come on campus and participate in a neutral thing are allowed to express religious viewpoints,” said Matthew Sharp, general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. “The students know it’s the mother and her own speech — something that the First Amendment protects — and that it is not the school mandating this woman to do it.”
Concord’s School Board President Kassandra Ardinger supports Rath’s decision.
“To be fair to all the kids in the school, it is probably best for the principal to say that she shouldn’t be speaking out like this and proselytizing on school grounds,” Ardinger said. “The best mode of action was to tell her to cool it.”
Then why didn’t you stop it for months until someone complained?