American Legion Group Demands Prayer at Public School’s Veterans Day Ceremony, but School Officials Say No

This past June, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Wallenpaupack Area Schools (in Pennsylvania) Superintendent Michael Silsby letting him know that if a clergy member ever again led a prayer at the district high school’s graduation ceremony, they would be hit with a lawsuit. Silsby wrote back in August: “The District will no longer have religious rituals as part of the commencement ceremony.”

Excellent. Problem solved.

So you can imagine how Silsby reacted when he learned what American Legion Post 311 wanted to do during Wallenpaupack Area High School’s Veterans Day ceremony next month. Normally, the event includes announcing the winners of an essay contest, singing patriotic songs, and listening to a guest speaker. But this year, the Legion made an additional, ungrantable request: Let our chaplain say a prayer at the assembly.

Silsby, not wanting to go through the same legal battle again, told them prayer wasn’t an option. It was a public school ceremony. There would be no mixing of church and state.

The veterans didn’t take the news so well. They’re now saying if the school won’t allow their chaplain to say a prayer at the event, they just won’t show up:

[Read more...]

Cannon County School Board Unanimously Replaces ‘Winter Break’ with ‘Christmas Break’

Last week, when the Cannon County Board of Education (Woodbury, Tennessee) held its monthly board meeting, nothing very eventful happened until the board members discussed next year’s school calendar.

This is normally a quick, breezy process. Just approve it and move on.

But one of the board members was offended by what he saw on the proposed schedule:

“What is the possibility of calling Winter Break Christmas Break instead?” [Chris] Blackburn asked.

“I am frankly tired of being pushed around by people that want to take Christ and God and Christmas and everything out of the school system,” Blackburn said. “They want to take prayer out of school and they want to take it out before ballgames. I am in favor of this calendar as long as we call it Christmas break.

What the hell…?

[Read more...]

Atheist Group Counters Times Square Creationist Ad with One of Its Own

Earlier this week, Answers in Genesis and its Creationist leader Ken Ham began a $200,000 ad campaign that included a sign in New York’s Times Square reading “Thank God You’re Wrong,” a message to their “atheist friends”:

Today, the Freedom From Religion Foundation responded with a digital ad in the exact same space:

[Read more...]

Why Was a Pastor Invited to This Public School’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony?

About a month ago, Sale Creek Middle/High School in Tennessee held a memorial service, as many schools did, for the victims of 9/11. Nothing wrong with that at all.

The problem is that a local pastor, Alan Stewart, was invited to speak to the students during the event. His speech, as you would expect, was littered with God:

When tragedy struck, our nation was humbled to its knees. Through the brokenness, tears would flow and people began to pray. Prayer occurred in churches, in classrooms, in the marketplace, on the street corner, and in government offices. But, it was interesting to note, there was not a single protest over praying in all of America! In times past, God had always protected America in this war torn world, and our nation called upon God to do it again. As Dwight Eisenhower signed the law adding the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, he said, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.” Our leaders were reminded that our first line of defense was not found in alliances, not in weapons of war, but in God almighty Himself.

Naturally, the Freedom From Religion Foundation caught wind of this and wrote a letter to an attorney for the district:

[Read more...]

FFRF to Prayer-Walking Police Department: ‘Get Off [Your] Knees and Get to Work’

Yesterday, I posted about how the Cincinnati Police Department was teaming up with 25 local religious congregations to walk and pray through the city in order to stop crime. Not only did the CPD support the Prayer Walks, they came up with the idea in the first place!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation took action quickly. FFRF Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter to Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell letting him know the government-sponsored Prayer Walks have to come to an end: [Read more...]