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ACLU Wants Teachers Jailed For Classroom Prayers

Reported by Donna - June 9, 2005

Today on Studio a special segment on the separation of Church and State came into play.

Under the banner of 'ACLU Wants Teachers Jailed For Classroom Prayer', Shepard Smith described a battle over the separation of church and state over prayers in a Louisiana classroom. He stated that the ACLU wanted to send to jail, teachers and school administrators who lead students in prayer.

But, he added, the school board, with the support of much of the community, takes it's case to defend it on the national stage.

Smith went to Phil Keating in Dallas, who submitted the following report. The following is my transcription, paraphrased, but pretty much verbatim of the report.

Phil Keating: War over prayer, religion and one public school district has been raging for eleven years. On one side, the Louisiana State ACLU, on the other, the school board with the backing of a bunch of the community.

Three times now, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the school board, winning every single time and now it has filed a fourth.

Cut to video of people, standing in a circle, praying and you can hear the words, 'We ask you God, to intervene now in Jesus' name.'

Keating: This is the Christian prayer meeting that takes place now every night that there is a school board meeting in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.

But the prayers are not only going on, they're only going on outside the building.

Cut to video of a sign that says: Enough is Enough. Let's Stand for Jesus.

Keating: That's because a Federal Judge ruled that the school board could no longer open every meeting with a prayer as it had done for a hundred years. The school board is now appealing the ACLU's victory to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Cut to a video of Mike Johnson with the banner of Alliance Defense Fund.

Mike Johnson: This is just their latest example of their sort of nationwide mission to go after religious expression and they've targeted, unfortunately, this school board, over and over.

Keating: This war is multi-faceted. Cynthia Thompson, who you see right here (cut to video of woman pushing a child on a swing), she is the plaintive in the ACLU's fourth lawsuit against the school district. She claims she was dismissed from her student teacher job at an elementary school and thus did not get her teaching degree, all because she objected to the teacher leading class prayers, which, if true, would be a violation of a consent decree.

Cut to Cynthia Thompson.

Cynthia Thompson: The Wednesday before being asked to withdraw (from her job) she (the teacher) asked me to stop teaching a subject to have a student stand and pray for someone, an acquaintence of hers who had passed away.

Keating: That teacher she is referring to is one of the people that the ACLU wants a judge to at least, at minimum, send to jail if not just suspend from school. (I'm not sure if he wanted to say this the other way around)

The ACLU argues that despite all of these court rulings the school board and the teachers inside the classroom continue to do whatever they want about putting Christianity into the classrooms, outside, of course, the community has been rallying, as you saw in that video, and they are hoping and praying they will prevail in court.

Comment: Awwww, hoping and praying that they will prevail in court. This is a public school, people. The whole time the story ran (except for the videos) Fox kept the banner up that said 'ACLU Wants Teachers Jailed for Classroom Prayers'.

They also made sure they used the prayer video and the words 'We ask you God, to intervene now in Jesus' name' and made sure the sign 'Enough is Enough, Let's Stand Up for Jesus' was visible.

Don't they realize that they incite people, not only Christians, but people of other religions or no religion when they show this? I repeat, this is a public school district. Maybe Smith and Keating both said it right when they said 'much of the community supports this'. 'Much' isn't the whole community, we are a diverse community and this is a public school system, separation of church and state must prevail.

But their message got across loud and clear - the ACLU wants to jail teachers because of classroom prayer.

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