Wednesday, November 10, 2010

School Principal in Trouble Over Prayer Breakfast Endorsement

In California, an elementary school principal is threatened with job termination because he appeared as a private citizen in a video promoting an prayer breakfast that was to honor teachers. Craig Victor is suing the school for threatening his job and for placing him on a disciplinary performance plan.

This apparently came about because a member of the school board saw the video on the internet. This person said the video was an illegal promotion of religion. Considering that the First Amendment was intended to prevent an establishment of religion by the U.S. Congress, it is remarkable how far we have bent that Amendment. A Supreme Court decision in 1947 brought the phrase "separation of church and state" into their decision, that phrase coming from a private letter of Thomas Jefferson. Think how much more "flexible" that phrase is. Did the principal establish a religion (even though he has no power to make a law)? But the courts have used the "separation" metaphor to say the government may not promote religion. And courts have brought the restriction on legislative action down to much smaller levels. For example, the Supreme Court said you can't have prayer at a graduation ceremony. That is an individual school's decision, and they are hardly a legislative body.

Now we have a principal speaking on his own time about a prayer breakfast, and that has become an unconstitutional act (in the mind of the school board, at least).

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