A Principal Allowed Her to Deliver Bible Readings on School Property Every Morning This Past Spring

I teach at a public high school and the visitor policy works like this: If you’re not a student or staff member, you must sign in at the front desk, show identification, and declare the intent of your visit. Even if a parent is just dropping off lunch for his child, those are the rules. They apply immediately before, during, and immediately after school. I hope it’s obvious that this is all for the safety of the people in the building.

Concord High School in New Hampshire has a similar policy, but one parent was coming on school grounds every morning this past spring (from February onward), was in contact with students as they entered the building, and no one did anything about it. In fact, the principal allowed her to do it.

Why did that happen?

Because the mother, Lizarda Urena, wanted to pray for everybody:

Lizarda Urena prays before school (John Tully – Concord Monitor)

“What I am doing here is for our peace and our love, because the Bible says love your neighbor as you love yourself, and when I’m here it symbolizes peace and love and care,” said Urena, who is originally from the Dominican Republic.

Urena, who has two children in 10th grade at Concord High, has been praying off school grounds for the protection of Concord High and all schools for the past two years. Beyond the school, she travels and street-preaches in Boston, New York and other cities. But one morning in February, she saw police cars pulling up to the school to respond to the discovery of the bullets, which had been flushed down the toilet and never caused any harm. After that, she asked Principal Gene Connolly if she could pray on school property at the beginning of the day, and he assented.

“I asked Mr. Connolly, ‘Please, if you want our school to be protected, we don’t need a police car here, we need the grace of God here every morning,’” she said.

Just to be clear, the fact that she’s a parent is irrelevant here. She’s an adult who’s not on staff, on school grounds, in contact with children, and the principal told her that was okay.

That’s not okay.

Earlier this month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the school (PDF) explaining why Urena was crossing the line:

Allowing adults, not facilitated by or through school personnel, to enter school property during the school-day to interact with children is shocking. This implies that strange adults, who happen to have religious motives, have unregulated access to young children at school. With tragedies at school and parents’ appropriate worry over adult contact with children, it is incredible that the District would allow this practice.

You can imagine how quickly the school would have stopped her if she were a Muslim reading the Koran…

There’s also the issue of the principal giving her the okay — which could be seen as a “stamp of approval” to Christianity. Does the school give a green light to anyone who wants to spread their religious beliefs in the morning? Because I’m sure Westboro Baptist Church would be first in line to sign up if that were the case.

There’s just no good reason to allow a random adult to pray on school grounds in the morning. Even though she has good intentions, why can’t she do the same damn thing from inside her home? Or does God not hear her when she prays outside school property?

After receiving FFRF attorney Rebecca Markert‘s letter, the school district (finally) did the right thing: They told Urena she could no longer pray on school grounds when classes resume this fall:

Concord’s School Board President Kassandra Ardinger supports [Superintendent Christine] 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.”

Of course, a Religious Right group is arguing that this is a violation of the mother’s rights:

[Says 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.”

Sharp of the pro-prayer Alliance Defending Freedom says the group hasn’t decided whether to take up Urena’s cause.

“What this mother is doing is carrying on one of the great American traditions,” he said.

I reiterate my earlier point: If the mother were preaching any faith other than Christianity, I doubt Sharp would be defending her. If she was outside every morning, screaming, “God doesn’t exist,” you would expect cops to come haul her away.

The only reason she was able to get away with it for this long is because she’s in the religious majority.

If Urena wants to pray off of school grounds, or in her home, no one can stop her. The moment she steps onto school property, though, she has to obey the rules for the sake of the students. The administration should have known better — and, thanks to FFRF, they finally did what they should’ve done months ago.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Lizarda

    Oh c’mon, you’re making this too easy.

    • ShoeUnited

      Lizarda praying to Raptor Jesus?

      I’ll have you know I take great offense to this.

      Dinosaurs aren’t reptiles.

  • Tainda

    I get SO FRAKING SICK of hearing them pull the First Amendment BS out of their asses for these kind of cases!

    I have no problem with your delusional butt sitting on the other side of the road praying but the minute you step on school property that’s where we have a problem!

    *walks away from the computer grumbling*

  • Mario Strada

    Lizarda?

    • baal

      I read her name as ‘lizard urine’. I was wondering if it’s real (and unfortunate) or made up.

  • edb3803

    Once again … a special privilege is taken away from an American christian, and they claim persecution.

  • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

    I somewhat disagree with you on this point, Hemant. If a peaceful, orderly citizen wants to hand students a flyer or pamphlet on the way into or out of high school, that would seem to me worthy of protection. If such a citizen caused a great noise or disturbance, it would seem reasonable to request that they keep their sound down to a moderate level. Like you, I would insist that the school treat people similarly, regardless the belief/opinion they seek to spread.

    • baal

      She’s not pamphleting. She’s using christian magic to ward the school supernaturally from physical harm (gun shots, use of the bullets).

      Imagine if 5 Shinto priests in their silly hats set up on the school steps every morning to renew spirit barriers. Would you be yapping about the volume of their chants?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Safety rules have to apply across the board or they are worthless. Peaceful-seeming people have certainly turned out to be kidnappers or worse before. They also compromise a social form of herd immunity in that they can enable access for other people who the system is totally unaware of.

    • Smiles

      The children are also “required” to attend… Having anyone preaching before the entrance, is unacceptable. The children do not have a “choice” in the proselytizing/shaming…but that is beside the point; there is no place for religion on public property during business hours.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      The problem is that, unlike nearly every other distention, the state compels student to go to school. The student has no choice whether to be in the audience or not, and therefor it isn’t a free speech. You can’t expect the state to provide you an audience. I would be against her actions, even if she were loudly shouting that there is no God.

      Also, since this is happening on school property, on school time and with the blessing of the administration, she’s really not a ordinary citizen, but a de facto voice of the state. And the state must be neutral.

      If she wants to do her magic chant on the sidewalk, let her. But once she steps on to schol property, the rules change.

    • thfc1987

      I think you’re right IF she is on a public sidewalk; she may not do that on school property without permission. And if that is the case, anyone could give out literature, or it would constitute viewpoint discrimination.

      She can’t be on school grounds like she was, end of story.

    • more compost

      “If a peaceful, orderly citizen wants to hand students a flyer or pamphlet on the way into or out of high school, that would seem to me worthy of protection.”

      Not if it is on school property. If it is on school property there is an implied approval by the school, and it must therefore be regulated, and halted if it is in support for any religion.

    • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

      more compost & thfc1987: In my earlier comment, I’m describing the way I think things ought to be. So I think the peaceful, orderly citizen should be allowed to distribute (on school grounds) a flyer or pamphlet to high school students–and by extension, she should be allowed to pray, or talk. If that’s currently against the rules, then the rules should be changed, imho.

      Holytape & Smiles: You believe that government must protect folks who are engaging in government-mandated activities from being leafleted or spoken to by peaceful, orderly fellow citizens? (No leafleting on courthouse steps, outside the police station or DMV, either?) I beg to differ. I would have no problem with the school administration making clear it does not presumptively endorse the messages being distributed in such a free speech zone.

      C.L. Honeycutt: I acknowledge society takes on some risk, when it takes free speech seriously. I think there are practical and cheap ways of accommodating your concern–requiring leafleters to check in, making sure they understand and accept reasonable ground rules, etc.

      baal: You’re correct that in Hemant’s example, the citizen wasn’t leafleting, she’s praying aloud. I view any such oral communication to merit similar protection, provided it is at a reasonably subdued volume.

      • baal

        I’m underwhelmed with your personal views. The U.S. is a country of laws and this one (separation of church and state) is critical to the on-going success of both. She is not entitled to pray (loudly or softly) on the government’s land especially with the principals blessing.

        I see a substantial difference between political speech (pamphleteering) and prayers. The two areas of speech are handled differently legally and rightly so.

        EDIT: I do appreciate that you read the several responses and directly addressed the issues. Too many on the pro-religion side tend to show up and do drive bys, or troll or other odious behaviour.

        • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

          Thanks baal.

          So we have a clear and upright difference in perspectives: I think peaceful, orderly citizens out to be able to engage with students on high school campuses–and you don’t. I consider both text- and sound-based speech to have equal claim on First Amendment protection. I accept that the principal should make clear any such statements are in no way endorsed by the school.

          btw: I’m an atheist.

      • thfc1987

        The reason that isn’t allowed is because A) it presents safety concerns for any number of reasons: strangers at schools, people blocking entryways and exits during busy parts of the day, etc. and B) parents simply don’t want their kids accepting things from strangers. Besides, consider the uproar over some of the potential messages. FFRF saw this same thing: a school district allowed Christians to put out bibles, FFRF wanted to put out literature, and then the school censored nearly all of the literature. It creates viewpoint discrimination problems. Better for schools to avoid these sorts of things altogether and exist for their purpose: to educate. Nothing stops people from standing on public sidewalks and distributing literature or praying. Why must they be on school property?

        • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

          Thanks very much for your reply, thfc1987.

          I would consider it fine for a high school to promulgate a policy congenial to most parties–making clear citizens are not allowed to block entryways and exits, etc.

          If parents don’t want their high school aged children to receive pamphlets from peaceful, orderly citizens, they can feel free to instruct their children not to accept any.

          You are certainly correct in suggesting there may be an uproar, when students receive such messages. I am simply arguing that those in uproar should take a chill pill.

          I am calling for no viewpoint discrimination.

          The reason such lit distribution (or speech) ought to be allowed on school property–and not across the street–is because students are primarily on school property. For free speech on public property to be reasonably facilitated, it should not be allowed only on some remote patch.

          • EvolutionKills

            “The reason such lit distribution (or speech) ought to be allowed on school property–and not across the street–is because students are primarily on school property. For free speech on public property to be reasonably facilitated, it should not be allowed only on some remote patch.”

            And to quote the gist of what others have said before: The state does not owe her or anybody else an audience. The school, as a agent of the state, has no obligation to help facilitate the spread of religious propaganda; and every reason to prevent it. If she wants to pray for the school, she can do that outside of school grounds. If she want to proselytize or pass out pamphlets, she can, just not on school grounds. And that argument that it might be harder for here than doing it in front of the school is empty, facile, and has no standing in law.

            Much in the same way that marriage-equality is perceived by many Christian as ‘religious persecution’ on them, just because they can no longer impose their religious dogma on others. It’s not persecution, it’s equality. Likewise, the school isn’t limiting her freedom of speech on her own time outside of school grounds; her rights are not being violated. But once she get on school grounds and acts with school authority, those rules no longer apply to her. As an agent of the state (which she becomes if allowed onto property to speak to students with the school’s permission), she now has an obligation to maintain the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. Just like the state and the school, she can no longer advocate or give preferential treatment to any religion; and this is precisely what she was doing. You clearly disagree with it, but it’s a rather clear cut matter of law vis-a-vis the federal constitution.

            • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

              Thanks for your comment, EvolutionKills. I agree with you that government representatives can frequently think up ‘every reason to prevent’ the peaceful transmission of views among citizens. Unlike you, I don’t view the high school students as governmental possessions: The lit distributor is not requesting the state provide her with an audience–she is simply asking the state to get out of the way, allowing peaceful, orderly communication among citizens without undo state interference.

              We are having a discussion, in part, about whether my idea (applying the First Amendment to daily life at school) is a good idea. If you consider allowing free speech to take place near a high school entrance to be empty and facile, I sincerely disagree.

              I would be happy were the principal to make clear to students that the speech directed at them is not endorsed by the school. You dogmatically assert that once someone is on school grounds, their statements enjoy administrative endorsement–that the lit distributor becomes ‘an agent of the state.’ Nonsense.

              When I was in high school we had a ‘candidate day’ before elections–in which candidates or their campaign workers were welcome to set up booths in the auditorium and argue (face-to-face, with students) on behalf of their ideas. Third party candidates often attended–directly interacting with the high school students, often confronting them with radical ideologies unlike any to which they’d previously been exposed. It was a great experience. In a religion class we had adherents of various faiths come and speak about their religions.

              Please be aware that I am arguing for the way things ought to be, my good EvolutionKills. I am not making a claim about existing law.

              • EvolutionKills

                Thanks for your quick and civil response.

                Before we go any further, I’d ask that you please look into the Lemon Test if you wish to continue to argue for your position by using the First Amendment. I’m sure you’ll quickly see, even if you do not agree, that your argument is simply untenable.

                “Three … tests may be gleaned from our cases. First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.”

                http://www.usconstitution.net/lemon.html

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman

                Might I also suggest reading up on Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, where the teaching of ‘Intelligent Design’ was also found to be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

                Your two examples, of a candidate day and a religious studies class, both fail as analogies to support your position. A special event where political candidates are brought in, I imagine as a study in civics, is clearly different from what took place with Mrs. Urena. It seems to be clear that the candidates were there to be debated and challenged on their beliefs, not to proselytize to the students on behalf of one religion or another. There is a valid, secular, reason to allow this to take place; it’s a good demonstration of civics and debate. It did not have a expressly religious intention, even if religion came up in discussion. So I think it would pass the Lemon Test. Your second example of a religious studies course is a bit trickier. The point is that the school can not endorse a religion. So a class where you study all religions as an outsider looking in would not violate the Lemon Test. If however the teacher or school used it to try and teach any one religion as the truth, or if the teacher led the class in prayer or began to proselytize? Then that would be crossing the line.

                While Mrs. Urena wasn’t openly asking for a captive audience, that is what she was abusing. If she just wants to pray, and she believes it actually works, then she can pray someplace other than school grounds. She can pray or talk about her faith all she wants, but not on school grounds on school time with school permission to school students. She was on school grounds for EXPRESSLY religious purposes. There was no civil, secular, reason to allow her onto school grounds to promote her religion by praying for everyone at the front doors. Her actions fail the Lemon Test, simple as that. You might not agree with me, but I do appear to have the Federal Constitution and the Supreme Court on my side.

                • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

                  Thanks for your most recent effort, dear EvolutionKills.

                  I’m not commenting here on ‘legislation concerning religion’–so the Lemon Test does not in any way apply. Within the free speech zone that I have advocated, school administrators would inform students that any such statements would enjoy no governmental endorsement–so Dover is likewise irrelevant.

                  To say that two things are similar in some respects is not to claim that they are identical. I provided the two analogies merely to show that non-school-employees have frequently been able to express their views within public schools and that this has been largely positive and beneficial.

                  Again: I have advocated a policy of content neutrality with regard to peaceful, orderly adults who want to distribute literature or perform speech acts as high school students enter or leave the school building. So I propose the school not discriminate between someone handing out pamphlets entitled ’5 Excellent Reasons for Becoming a Liberal’ and a person saying the rosary.

                • EvolutionKills

                  “So I propose the school not discriminate between someone handing out pamphlets entitled ’5 Excellent Reasons for Becoming a Liberal’ and a person saying the rosary.”

                  And I propose that we stick to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and not allow ANY proselytizing for ANY religion or lack thereof. One of the principles of the Lemon Test that you seem to have missed was “Both statutes are unconstitutional under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, as the cumulative impact of the entire relationship arising under the statutes involves excessive entanglement between government and religion” Is her action a legal statue? No. Does the school principal giving her permission constitute an “excessive entanglement between government and religion”? I would argue it does.

                  So in keeping with previous court rulings that have decided that schools cannot lead student in prayer, but no one can stop the students from praying on their own. Parents can pray at school sporting events, but the school cannot lead or endorse the prayer. Mrs. Urena can pray all she want on her own time in her own space, but she cannot be given school permission to do so on school property on school time. The principal was in the wrong to ever give her his approval. The compulsory attendance of the students is for their education, not indoctrination. You keep citing the First Amendment, but you seem to have conveniently forgotten part of it. Let’s refresh…

                  “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.”

                  To allow her onto school ground, with school permission, during school time, for expressly religious purposes, DOES violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Case closed, even without the Lemon Test.

                  “I provided the two analogies merely to show that non-school-employees have frequently been able to express their views within public schools and that this has been largely positive and beneficial.”

                  And as I pointed out, if they where there with a solid secular justification, that is perfectly alright. Mrs. Urena does NOT have that excuse. Once again, the point you keep conveniently forgetting, is that her purpose is exclusively religious. Once again, it’s not just a matter of Free Speech; it is also a matter of Freedom of/from Religion and the Establishment Clause.

                  I find your repeated misrepresentation to be quite tiring.

                  One of the reasons behind the Establishment Clause is to prevent the majority from marching all over the rights of the minority. If we granted you your plan, it is clear that Christian proselytizers can and would quickly outnumber those of other faiths (or none) in spreading their message at schools. Simple numbers, they have more people and more money to do so. Now I imagine that this is indeed your goal, which if you’re a member of the majority you probably fail to see the problem here. But to anybody not in the majority on any opinion (not just religion), this concept is terrifying in it’s possible scope of abuse.

                  “In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.”
                  - James Madison: Father of the Constitution, 4th President of the United States of America

                • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

                  Thanks for another learned reply, EvolutionKills.

                  To repeat: The Lemon Test pertains to ‘legislation concerning religion.’ Since I have proposed no such thing, the Lemon Test has no bearing one way or another upon my proposal.

                  The speech advocated by our hypothetical pamphleteers comes labeled ‘not endorsed by this high school.’ Ergo, the Establishment Clause–like the Lemon Test–has the same relevance as does the pencil test.

                  In my proposal, EK, lit-distributors and speakers would be required to respect students’ right to refuse interaction. Should you succeed in locating any misrepresentation on my part, I hereby release you from keeping it a secret from Friendly Atheists worldwide.

                  You insinuate that my goal is to promote Christian proselytization; you err. I am an atheist who happens to believe our cause can easily prevail within a community that honors civil exchange–even when we are outnumbered.

                  I foresee value in treating older teens as adults during an extremely brief period of their day. You believe it of great importance to shield them from the viewpoints of civil, orderly, peaceful adults. That’s the essence of our dispute; I am entirely proud to stand on principle here, in opposition to your preferred nannystatism.

                • EvolutionKills

                  Your proposal doesn’t seem so bad, it even sounds eminently ‘reasonable’. But so does arguing for ‘teach the controversy’ about Creationism. I would LOVE to live in a time and place where your proposal would NOT be abused by the religious right. But that time is not now, and that place is not the United States. We still have to fight over the teaching of Creationism and access to contraception. Creationism and contraception. Let that sink in for a minute, we are still fighting over that…

                  You see the value in treating older teens as adults, and I agree. But I also see just how easily your policy would (not could, but would) be abused to target children. The younger people are less and less religious, and the demographics are switching. Churches around the country are hemorrhaging youth, they know it, and they understand it’s implications. They will do everything they can to target children and ‘get them while they’re young’, because that’s the easiest time to indoctrinate someone. Most people who accept Christ, do so before they graduate high school.

                  Now, factor in cuts in funding for public education, and most likely those teens will not have sufficient mental training and skills. How many of them have a firm grasp on critical thinking and the scientific method? Not nearly enough. If we had the best schools in the world, with the best students, and the least religious nation in the developed world? Then it wouldn’t terrify me so much, but I would still oppose it on the grounds of the Constitution. But we’re far and away from being tops in any educational category, we’re constantly shorting funding for education, and we’re the most religious nation in the developed world. Once again, this is neither the time nor place for it. It would be rampantly abused, and if you fail to see that, you are far too credulous.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        It isn’t a free speech issue. It’s a freedom of religion issue that falls squarely on the side of her not being allowed to proselytize to and pray at students.

        I do most appreciate the misrepresentation in order to slur me.

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        You are comparing apples to oranges. The other examples you give differ in audience (minors vs adults), frequency of attendence (infrequent vs frequent), and access (easy vs restricted).

        Schools, unlike the court and DMV, primary deals with minors. While the warning that the school administration does not presumptively endorse the messages being distributed, may work for adults, it is not reasonable to assume that it would work for children. If she wanted to do this on a state college campus the more power to her.

        • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

          Thanks Holytape; you and I have got to the nub of our dispute: I think it is reasonable, during a brief period before and after the school day, to treat older teens as adults. You think that’s unreasonable. So we have an entirely upright disagreement, wherein I have confidence in the upcoming generation–and you think they need to be shielded until they achieve majority age. Fair enough.

          • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

            So what age is “older teens?” Would you consider it to 14, the age of freshman? In the school district I went to the high school and middle school shared buses. Thus, someone preaching before and after school would be preaching to kids that are 11~12. What is the cut off point?

            Also I don’t believe that you are taking into account of the social aspect of school. This isn’t the DMV, where you have no social interactions between yourself and the person standing behind you in line. Peer-pressure s a significant problem. Having a different religious view that your classmates can be a very isolating experience. The school doesn’t need to re-enforce this.

            Also, while I do have confidence in the up-coming generation, I have zero confidence in the administrators. Allowing any preaching will inevitably lead to christian only preaching in most parts of this country. It’s easier just to avoid that whole mess and not allowing any preaching.

            • http://gavinsullivan.com/ Gavin Sullivan

              In implementing my policy, Holytape, I accept that sometimes reasonable decisions will have to be made, such as in your example. I think reasonable people can address all such concerns; I simply don’t think that a categorical ban on such speech constitutes an honorable solution.

              I don’t believe that my free speech zone proposal should be expected to exacerbate the difficulties experienced by adherents of minority religions/philosophies. If it does, a categorical ban on free speech is still not the best answer.

              Nor do I consider a categorical ban to constitute a thoughtful answer to the problem administrative mediocrity.

              You, on the other hand, do. Hence: We politely disagree.

  • baal

    I just googled this story for kicks (how it’s getting covered). Most of the headlines are talking about how a christian woman was ‘banned for praying for her kids’.

    • Tainda

      *bangs head on desk*

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        ^^ What ze said.

  • onamission5

    I was previously unaware of the great American tradition of keeping schools safe by having a parent publicly praying on school property instead of having a paid, trained resource officer present. Thanks to Mr. Sharp for the history lesson.
    /snark

    edit: aw, hell, forgot my snark tag

    • Smiles

      I think he is referring to the tradition of proselytizing, entitlement, ignorance, pride, etc…

  • Epinephrine

    What, God can’t tell which school you are referring to unless you stand right on its steps? Pray from the sidewalk. Or better yet, home.

  • Cincinatheist

    I wonder if Ms. Urena’s version of the Bible has Matthew 6:5 in it. And if so, has she read that passage…

    • kelemi

      Or Matthew 22:15-22?

  • Chupper

    I bet this lady’s kids are happy as hell to have their mom gone from campus too. They’ve probably gotten a lot of ribbing from other kids over it.

  • treedweller

    Tough to pick one point from all the crazy, but I must: How, exactly, do the students know this is ‘the mother and her own speech’ and not an official part of their school? As someone who went to a few of those assemblies where Christians give a little show as pretense for proselytization (a few decades ago), I would say kids today must be a lot more savvy and aware than I ever was for that to be true.

    • thfc1987

      All ADF does is lie and try to defend cases they can’t win. It’s pretty much their thing.

      • baal

        They find judges now and then who are subject to elections and put the fear of organized opposition into them. This can get district judges to rule counter to precedent. We saw this in the Koontz cheerleader case. It make it more expensive and draws out the case for the secular side by about a year per case. We’re generally (and rightly) seen as the side with shallower pockets so drawing it out helps the christianists defeat clear law. These types of techniques that the richer or more powerful use to keep their relative privilege despite not having the facts, law or right on their side.

        • thfc1987

          Oh yeah, I know all about how ADF and similar organizations work. Terrible attorneys, terrific at spreading fear and misinformation.

  • Gideon

    Now I’m curious about the distance factor in prayer effectiveness. Is it an inverse-square law?

    On the one hand, as I recall, churchgoers sometimes would place their hands on someone’s back or shoulder while praying for them. Presumably so the prayers work better at point-blank range.

    But then there’s Matthew 8:5-13 (yes, I needed to look up the reference online), in which a long-distance healing explicitly occurs successfully.

    So confusing.

  • newavocation

    If a Christian prays in the forest would god hear it? I guess not.

    • the moother

      Lol… Must get this tattooed around my ring-piece.

  • Ryan Hite

    Why can’t they all just shut up and accept defeat?

    • EnoBop

      Wow, this isn’t an “us vs them” issue. People like you are just feeding the flames when it comes to things like War on Xmas or Christian persecution, giving Christians a reason to fight back.

      By the way, as atheists, we make up a miniscule 2.01% percent of the world’s population and only 20% are irreligious in the US (including people that believe in God but don’t follow any religion)… the religious are far from being defeated, unfortunately..

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        Oh! Statistics love em. 2.01% times 7 billion equals 140,700,000 million people. Which is almost the total population of Russia. That is a third of the total number of Americans which is 316,358,000 times 20% which equals 63,271,600 million people. Which is around half the total population of Japan.

        It is generally true of theists to quote those percentages, I’m thinking you are a Poe(ser.) Defeat is not an issue with Atheists, matter of fact it’s pretty much a theistic myth (amongst many) that Atheist’s are conducting a war against theism. If anything we are conducting a war against ignorance. You might wish to consider the depth of that former statement before posting copy-pasta from religious websites and Faux News.

  • Miss_Beara

    There were a lot of “Great American Traditions” that ended because they were very very bad traditions.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

      Like good god fearing xians donating blankets to native American’s comes to mind.

      • EvolutionKills

        Slavery was the first thing that came to my mind, but the persecution and annihilation of the Native Americans is another good example often forgotten.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    I grow more and more astounded by what people think is okay to allow on school property. What if she’d been a Wiccan who wanted to cast a protection spell every day? You can bet the principal wouldn’t have allowed it, and probably would have had her escorted off the premises if she’d tried it. But because she’s Christian, it’s fine. And arguing that it’s about First Amendment rights is silly– do I have the right to walk onto my kids’ school grounds and talk to the kids about anything I choose? If I don’t, then she doesn’t.

    “‘Please, if you want our school to be protected, we don’t need a police car here, we need the grace of God here every morning.’”

    O ye of little faith. Does she really believe her God is so powerless that he can’t protect kids unless someone is praying over them every day? Where is the grace of God the rest of the time?

    • Tainda

      Brings up the whole hullabaloo about Godsmack playing at a county fair in Michigan and the Christians are going insane.

      It’s a good thing the county is ignoring their protests because I would have to go up there and bring my can ‘o whoop ass.

  • eric

    “why can’t she do the same damn thing from inside her home?”
    Because she doesn’t really want to pray for the students. She wants to evangelize them.
    To be generous, we could say she wants to pray with them. Less generously, she wants to be seen to pray for them. But as you and multiple commenters have pointed out, praying for them could be done in her home, on her home time.

  • Rain

    She forgot to pray for her and other people like her to be able to go to school grounds and do whatever the heck they feel like. Everyone except for mimes, I would hope. Hopefully she wouldn’t pray for mimes, assuming that she would have remembered to pray for the whole freakin world to just pack up and go onto school grounds and do what the heck ever their shtick is. Unfortunately she forgot to pray for that. It would have been like vaudeville all over again.

  • ed

    “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet,
    and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in
    secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly”

  • Sue Blue

    So,,,I guess for God to be really effective at protecting the schoolkids, she has to be right on the school grounds, not at home or in church…because then God wouldn’t hear her prayers, right? He’d just be all like, “What school and what kids is she yapping about?” This way, the God who apparently can’t pinpoint evil gay celebrities for destruction without wiping out an entire city with a hurricane can tell she means Concord High, and not some other school in the next state.

    Yeah, right. She just wants to advertise how pious she is.

  • Tobias2772

    Can I please note that this is happening in New Fucking Hampshire and NOT in the south. I am so tired of us southerners getting bashed for this kind of stupid shit. Please allow me to note that this kind of stupid religious shit happens everywhere. Thanks.

    • Brian

      Its more prevalent in the south, and hence the stigma. Comes with the territory. Until the South changes its evangelical ways, im afraid youre stuck with it.

    • EvolutionKills

      Stupidity: It’s not limited by geography.

  • Mitch

    “Please, if you want our school to be protected, we don’t need a police car here, we need the grace of God here every morning.”


    Wait, WHAT? It hurts my brain.

  • Robster

    Will god do the gardening too? Traffic control at the end of the day would be good as well. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

  • talkingsnake

    Blatantly illegal, but she is doing yeoman’s work for our side.

  • Mira

    The way she defended what she did makes me want her to have to tell 911 operators that she’s believing in Jesus and them to respond “good luck, then: pray harder.”
    Yeah I know I’m an asshole but seriously…

  • Mario Rodgers

    I guess she’s not aware of multiple passages from Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus, among others. It’s the complete opposite of “love your neighbor”.

  • http://www.robinlionheart.com/ Robin Lionheart

    “why can’t she do the same damn thing from inside her home?”

    She could’ve all along, but then she’d’ve had no audience for her attention-seeking displays of piety, standing out on the front steps in her all-white praying clothes where everyone entering school could see her. It’s not like an omniscient being would hear her prayers any better at school than at home.

    Jesus admonishes his followers not to use prayer to make a public spectacle of themselves like Lizarda: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

  • Beatrix S.L

    I say let her, but only if she can be accompanied by a Wiccan mother casting spells for the school’s protection.

  • thepatsy@windstream.net

    Her God can’t hear silent prayer so she has to make an ass of herself every morning on school property. Anyone with a brain should know adults should not be allowed on school property at will. There pose a danger. What if everyone with a deaf God showed up? there would be a crowd. Why not just emblazon a big “C” on their foreheads. That should do it.


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