Actually this is just another attempt at putting government sponsored prayer back in the public school classrooms. It’s an end run around the First Amendment Establishment Clause because it would once again unite church and state by legalizing school prayer, a government practice that the United States Supreme Court has held as unconstitutional since the 1940’s.
The bills also declare that school events such as graduations and football games, as well as morning public address announcements, are "limited public forums" in which sectarian prayers would be allowed. That would violate Supreme Court precedent as well which has established that graduation ceremonies, football games and public announcements at school my not involve prayers.
"People ask me if this is a step toward getting prayer back in schools. I think this is THE step to get prayer back in schools," declared religiously oriented Mississippi radio commentator, Paul Ott, an ardent supporter of the new law.
But the ACLU of Mississippi has noted the obvious – this law would force a captive audience of students to listen to someone else's religious expression, a practice which has lead federal judges to strike down a previous Mississippi law allowing student-led prayer. "The courts have never said it's OK to hold a captive audience," it says.
Sam Bounds, current head of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, admits that he allowed student-led prayer when he was superintendent in Brookhaven Mississippi. He, just like many other government statists have no qualms about stomping on the First Amendment when it comes to sponsoring their own religion in the public schools. "I'm a good Southern Baptist," he said.
The fact is that organized school prayer still remains widespread in the state of Mississippi, despite opponents' efforts to curtail it. The Mississippi public school authorities routinely stomp on the Establishment Clause while thumbing their noses at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Supporter Ott explained that he believes schools have seen more bad behavior, harassment, bullying and even school shootings because of prayer's exclusion. "Let's get God back in the schools some way," he insisted. "We've been praying in schools for 200 years. Why should we stop?"
But what do the public school religious proselytizers’ think when the stomping shoe is on the other foot?
They scream bloody hell, that’s what.
It’s OK for them to force their religion on captive audiences at public schools, but all of a sudden, when a government statist hack starts stomping on their religion in a captive audience situation, they just love the First Amendment and its Establishment Clause. They want it enforced.
At Florida Atlantic University a professor of an Intercultural Communications class told the students to write the name “Jesus” on a sheet of paper. Then, they were told to put the paper on the floor.
“He had us all stand up and he said ‘Stomp on it,” said Ryan Rotela, a devout Morman student in the class. “I’m not going to be sitting in a class having my religious rights desecrated,” he explained. “I truly see this as I’m being punished… I picked up the paper from the floor and put it right back on the table.”
The student told the professor that his assignment was insulting and offensive. “I said to the professor, ‘With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate,’” Rotela continued. “I believe it was unprofessional and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.”
But when he took his concerns to a supervisor, he was promptly suspended from the class.
The university, meanwhile, is defending the assignment as a lesson in debate. “As with any academic lesson, the exercise was meant to encourage students to view issues from many perspectives, in direct relation with the course objectives,” said Noemi Marin, the university’s director of the school of communication and multimedia studies.
“While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate,” she added.
So religious statists aren’t the only ones who violate the First Amendment; non-religious statists have no compunctions about doing it too.
Stomping the First Amendment -- it’s OK with statists of every stripe until the shoe is on the other foot.