I am informed by the diligent attorneys at the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) in Madison, Wisconsin that the Lebanon, Missouri school board has not answered the FFRF’s second letter to the Superintendent of Schools about Principal Kevin Lowery’s prayer at a public school. That letter, shown below, was sent three weeks ago, on June 24. I didn’t publish it at the FFRF’s request, so that the folks in Lebanon would have time to respond without pressure. (I doubt that my publishing it would constitute “pressure,” though.)
As you may recall, Principal Lowery prayed at the Lebanon High School graduation—a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment—and the FFRF complained, as did as several past and present students. The school board and school superintendent ignored the FFRF’s first letter sent on June 2. If you don’t remember that fracas, some of the posts are at this search. I personally complained to the school board, and got no response save a snarky response from member Kim Light.
The school officials in the Lebanon School District have not responded to either letter. In other words, they’re stonewalling, hoping this will go away.
The next step, I suspect, is that they’ll find an attorney willing to participate in suing the Lebanon School Board, as well as a complainant with the standing to sue. I suspect that there will be no problem getting a complainant, though I don’t know for sure. I’ve also heard that the American Civil Liberties Union is preparing a lawsuit, but again, that’s hearsay: something I can’t substantiate.
You can see the second letter below, which will give you an idea of how the FFRF tries to resolve matters before they file a formal lawsuit. Nobody wants a lawsuit, for it’s expensive, time-consuming, and onerous. But believe me, if the FFRF doesn’t get a response, and the conditions above are satisfied, a lawsuit will be filed.
And when it is, Lebanon will be well advised to settle promptly. Actually, they should settle now, providing the written affirmation that the FFRF requests. Based on existing case law, Lebanon will lose that lawsuit on First Amendment grounds, and in the process will bankrupt their school district. For if they lose, they’ll have to pay court costs and the prosecuting attorney’s fees. In the Dover case, that was around one million dollars.
Really, Lebanon, are you so wedded to your “right” to pray in public that you will risk your children’s education, and the funding of their schools, for that? That’s a bad decision. You can always pray to yourself in schools, and anywhere else where you’re not a representative of the government. What is it about you that you insist on foisting your prayers on everyone, whether they want them or not, and in public schools? Do you not respect people who don’t share your beliefs? I wouldn’t foist atheism on public-school students, and you shouldn’t foist Christianity on them. That’s the way a secular society is supposed to work.
If a lawsuit goes forward, the Lebanon school board, school superintendent, and Principal Lowery will get what they deserve: a trouncing.