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State Representatives: Action not words against ACLU lawsuits on local Tennessee school boards over religion

In Government on January 4, 2012 at 6:54 AM

Over the last year I have witnessed school after school fold to the pressures of the ACLU. Soddy Daisy and Rhea County high schools most recently. The usual case is one person is offended by prayer either on the sports field or in the classroom and that is reported to the ACLU! I believe more often than not this person is a plant to divide the schools! In the two schools above it was rumored it was the same person complaining at both schools. It appeared the goal was set and obtained by one person.

I attended a rally in Soddy Daisy in support for school prayer on a football field. I was a little disappointed, thousands showed up and the park was full but it resulted in little more than a church service. No petitions, no long list of supporters signing or opposition that would amount to change. No goals,
No next step! Alot of effort, no result!

I contacted the Rhea County school board and superintendent and I couldnt get them to react! No resistance whatsoever! Nothing!

So here we are, essentially doing whatever the ACLU directs us to do.

Often was the case and it was muttered in a few of the conversations I had with school board leaders was “it will get too expensive for us to fight it. And that was that. The bottom line is the the bottom line!

I say we react back with a “shock and awe” of our own! Let’s overwhelm the ACLU with multiple lawsuits from many school districts. Multiple appeals, lawsuits that will put them in the same hole that we are in, cash strapped! Better yet, let’s call on the Department of Education to protect our kids! Now that is an original thought! Why does the DOE get an easy pass and are not defending local school systems, after all “its for the kids isn’t it! God knows they got enough of our money! Let’s spend it wisely for a change. Send a very strong message back to them, “mess with our kids and you mess with a whole slew of sue happy parents, school boards and blue haired grandmas with a purpose!”

Let’s force our State Legislators to stand up for the kids! When was the last time you heard of any legislator propose or pass legislation to protect our kids from the ACLU! Someone please tell me! I think too often we let our legislators slide and noone holds them accountable when it is warranted! After all are they not the “protector” of the state and our rights! One thing I do know for sure is they definitely have the ability to do more than they are currently doing!

Let’s do more than talk about this. Let’s contact our Representatives today. For the Bradley County area it is Eric Watson (author of the letter below) and Kevin Brooks. Call or email them today and demand something be done!

We have stood back and watched them too long, let’s set forth legislation to stop these attacks on our liberties. We can afford no longer to be politically correct, we must act and act now!

ACLU bringing lawsuits against local school boards over religion
by ERIC WATSON, State Rep.

The American Civil Liberties Union is at it again. The ACLU has brought lawsuits against local school boards in Tennessee, with the intent to limit students and teachers’ rights regarding religion. If you have attended any school-related events lately, you may have noticed in some cases the prayer has been replaced by a “moment of reflection” or a “moment of silence.”

In one school system, which has been under attack by the ACLU, fed-up parents began reciting the Lord’s Prayer prior to a football game and the entire stadium participated!

One of my general rules is local school boards should control education policy. However, it may be time to lay down some restrictions on the ACLU’s ability to dictate school board policy through aggressive lawsuits.

Here is the problem. Local school boards have limited funds. When the ACLU files a lawsuit, it is easy for local school boards to react in panic and begin changing local policy to avoid or settle lawsuits. This area of the law isn’t clearly defined.

In Wallace v. Jaffree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_v._Jaffree,1985), the Supreme Court ruled Alabama’s law permitting one minute for prayer or meditation was unconstitutional. Courts have ruled that school children are in a controlled environment and therefore public institutions must be very guarded in allowing any religious expression. While adjustments and carefully crafted laws have allowed moments of silence, recently things have taken a turn for the worse.

Tennessee teachers have been disciplined for standing near football players while praying before a game and some teachers have been told not to bow their head during the moment of meditation that begins the school day. Believe it or not, in at least one Tennessee school system, a pastor or youth pastor is now prohibited from having lunch at school with a member of his church.

In the coming session, we will be considering legislation to strike a balance between student and teachers’ rights and the need to avoid establishing a state religion. We will hear from Constitution experts, teachers, students and even the ACLU.

Today’s students face many challenges. Teachers are under tremendous pressure to meet test score goals. At the same time, we are limiting the ability of teachers to build meaningful relationships with students.

Our teachers are professionals and are certainly capable of deciding appropriate communication and discussions with students without the heavy hand of the ACLU being involved. At a time when teachers are often a stabilizing force in a child’s life, do we really want teachers to fear sharing words of wisdom and comfort with students? If a child is having a tough time at home, do we really want to prohibit a pastor from dropping by at lunch? These new policies are so outrageous, how long will it be before a youth pastor sues for his right to have lunch with a church member?

This area seems to be a place where a statewide policy is needed. I will keep you posted as we move forward. Let me know what you think, and as always thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

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