Saying “God bless America” has gotten a Florida high school student reprimanded after a national atheist organization threatened legal action.
But an attorney for a religious freedom law firm said the boy was well within his rights.
The unidentified student who had the job of making announcements over the intercom system of Yulee High School in Nassau County, “went off script” and asked God to bless America at the end of his broadcast, according to Fox News’ Todd Starnes.
This apparently set off two atheist students who bypassed district protocol for reporting such grievances directly to school authority and took their gripes to the national atheist group, the American Humanist Association.
The group’s legal team got to work, and sent a long letter to school authorities that whined:
“The daily validation of the religious view of God-believers resigns atheists to second-class citizens.”
Naturally, the letter included the threat of a lawsuit.
Starnes asked Jeremy Dys, an attorney with the conservative Liberty Institute, if the atheists had a case.
In short, the answer was no.
“Whether a student is being patriotic or engaging in religious speech, there is no law in this country forbidding a student from telling his or her classmates, ‘God Bless America’ and it is illegal for a school to censor a student for doing so,” Dys said.
Yulee High School Principal, Natasha Drake, tried to distance the school from the student and reacted with an apologetic letter to the AHA for the politically incorrect offense. For good measure, she threw in a mild threat to the boy involved.
“I have called the student in this morning and directed him that at no time is he to add or take away from announcements that have been pre-approved and that if he did it again, he would no longer have the privilege of making the morning announcements.”
Dys wonders why atheists seem so determined to censor those with differing views.
“Regardless of this attempt by secularists to white wash this demonstration of patriotism by a teenager, America’s students do not give up their right to free speech and the expression of their religious beliefs when they go to school,” he said.
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