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Posts Tagged ‘In God We Trust’

WorldNetDaily brings us news of a judicial victory by teacher Bradley Johnson over Westview High School in San Diego, California after Johnson sued the school district for forcing him to remove banners he had in his classroom for over 17 years because they contained Christian content.

Teacher wins major victory for God in school

Judge scolds district for trying to scrub America’s Christian heritage


Posted: March 01, 2010
9:48 pm Eastern

By Drew Zahn
© 2010 WorldNetDaily


Bradley Johnson and one of the two banners he was ordered to take down

A federal judge in California has handed down a scathing ruling against a school that required one of its teachers to remove signs celebrating the role of God in American history from his classroom walls.

As WND reported, math teacher Bradley Johnson had banners hanging in his classroom at Westview High School in San Diego, Calif., for more than 17 years with phrases like “In God We Trust” and “All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed by Their Creator,” only to have the principal order them torn down during the 2007 school year.

But Johnson filed a lawsuit alleging the order a violation of his constitutional rights, and the teacher has now been rewarded with a court victory and a powerfully-worded ruling.

“May a school district censor a high school teacher’s expression because it refers to Judeo-Christian views, while allowing other teachers to express views on a number of controversial subjects, including religion and anti-religion?” posited U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez in his judgment. “On undisputed evidence, this court holds that it may not.”

He continued, “That God places prominently in our nation’s history does not create an Establishment Clause violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson’s public high school classroom walls. It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God.”

The judge further reprimanded the school, stating that while teachers at the district “encourage students to celebrate diversity and value thinking for one’s self, [they] apparently fear their students are incapable of dealing with diverse viewpoints that include God’s place in American history and culture.”

The older of Johnson’s two signs, which had hung on his wall without complaint for 25 years, measured 7 feet by 2 feet and contained the words “In God We Trust,” “One Nation Under God,” “God Bless America” and “God Shed His Grace On Thee.” The second banner, posted eight years after the first, quoted the Declaration of Independence by including the phrase, “All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed by Their Creator.”


Johnson, the Westview High School teacher ordered to remove his educational banners

Though the district permits other teachers to hang Buddhist, Islamic and Tibetan prayer messages on their classroom walls, Johnson was nonetheless told to take his banners down.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, a not-for-profit law firm dedicated to the defense of religious freedoms, commented on the case.

“Many school officials exhibit hostility towards our nation’s Christian heritage. Yet, these same officials see no problem in actively promoting atheism or other religions under the guise of cultural diversity and tolerance,” said Thompson, whose firm filed the lawsuit on Johnson’s behalf. “Hopefully, Judge Benitez’s decision will help put an end to this double standard. It is the responsibility of our public schools to educate students on the crucial role Christianity played in our nation’s founding.”

The charge of a double standard was not lost on Judge Benitez.

“Fostering diversity,” Benitez ruled, “does not mean bleaching out historical religious expression or mainstream morality. By squelching only Johnson’s patriotic and religious classroom banners, while permitting other diverse religious and anti-religious classroom displays, the school district does a disservice to the students of Westview High School, and the federal and state constitutions do not permit this one-sided censorship.”

And in response to the school district’s claim that Johnson’s patriotic banners might make a Muslim student, for example, uncomfortable, Judge Benitez stated, “[A]n imaginary Islamic student is not entitled to a heckler’s veto on a teacher’s passive, popular or unpopular expression about God’s place in the history of the United States.”

The ruling prompted Robert Muise, the Law Center senior trial counsel handling the case, to comment, “It was refreshing to read an opinion that does justice to our nation’s history, rather than rewrite it.”

The judge concluded in his ruling that Johnson was entitled to a declaration that the school violated his constitutional rights and ordered the district to pay nominal damages of $10 per defendant and Johnson’s attorney’s fees and costs. Benitez also ordered the school district to allow Johnson to immediately re-hang the signs.

The Law Center reports Johnson returned the displays to his classroom walls late last week, on the same day the ruling was handed down.

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The Alliance Defense Fund reports that a lawsuit has been filed against Lakeview Elementary School in Wilson County, Tennessee.  School officials have told students that “See You At The Pole” posters cannot have reference to Scripture, prayer, or to God.  The irony is that the school won a lawsuit against the ACLU in May 2008 in which the ACLU tried to keep the school from recognizing events like “See You At The Pole” and National Prayer Day.

Tenn. school censors ‘God Bless the USA,’ ‘In God We Trust’

School orders references to God and prayer covered up on posters
Tuesday, March 03, 2009, 1:55 PM (MST) |
ADF Media Relations | 480-444-0020


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of parents and students at Lakeview Elementary School in Wilson County after school officials ordered “God Bless the USA,” “In God We Trust,” and other phrases referencing God and prayer to be covered up on posters before they could be displayed in the school’s hallways.  The posters were hand-drawn by students and their families to announce “See You at the Pole,” a voluntary, student-led prayer event held outside of class time.

“Christian students shouldn’t be censored for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum.  “It’s ridiculous as well as unconstitutional to cover up these references to God and prayer–one of which is the National Motto itself–on posters announcing a student-led activity.  School officials appear to be having an allergic reaction to the ACLU’s long-term record of fear, intimidation, and disinformation, despite a previous court ruling at this very school that said students can observe these types of events on school property.”

The American Civil Liberties Union previously sued the school to stop it from recognizing such events, including “See You at the Pole” and the National Day of Prayer.  In May 2008, a federal judge refused to grant the ACLU’s request.

Each year, students and parents affiliated with Lakeview Elementary School in Mt. Juliet have placed posters in the hallways of the school informing students of the “See You at the Pole” event.  This year, each poster, made on personal time without the use of any school funds or supplies, included the disclaimer:  “See You at the Pole is a student-initiated and student-led event and is not endorsed by Lakeview Elementary or Wilson County schools.”  Nevertheless, the students and their parents were ordered to cover up references to God and prayer and any Scripture passages on the posters or else they could not be posted.

After a school employee told the parent of one student, “You can’t hang up those posters.  They have the word ‘God’ on them,” the school’s vice principal and director reinforced the policy, explaining that posters containing religious references, like “In God We Trust,” “God Bless America,” and “come and pray,” are precluded by school board policy and prohibited in the hallways as inappropriate.

“The Constitution prohibits government officials from singling out religious speech for censorship, but this is exactly what Lakeview school officials did when they ordered these words to be covered,” Kellum said.

ADF-allied attorney David L. Maddox is serving as local counsel in the case.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

www.telladf.org

Note: Facts in ADF news releases are verified prior to publication but may change over time. Members of the media are encouraged to contact ADF for the latest information on this matter.

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