Loading
Florida high school officials going to court for praying
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- In what critics are characterizing as the “criminalization of prayer,” a principal and an athletic director at a Florida high school are facing criminal contempt charges for violating a federal order prohibiting prayer at school events.

Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman at Pace High School in the Florida panhandle county of Santa Rosa could face fines, jail time and loss of their retirement benefits.

During a luncheon to honor those who contributed toward the public school's athletic Field House, Principal Lay reportedly asked Freeman to offer a blessing for the meal. Students were not present at the time of the blessing.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) charged that the action constituted a violation of a previous court order and accused Lay and Freeman of contempt of court.

Last year the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County School District, charging that some of the teachers and administration endorsed religion. The school district did not fight the suit but consented to an order fashioned by the ACLU.

“School officials shall neither offer nor participate in a prayer during or in conjunction with a school event,” part of the order read.

“School officials shall not authorize students, student groups, a student body… or third parties to include prayer, whether or not it is noted in a printed program, during or in conjunction with a school event,” the order continued. It barred “non-student third-parties” from offering a prayer, invocation, benediction or other religious remarks during or in conjunction with a school event.

U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-V), a co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, criticized the trial of the two school officials in a Wednesday speech on the House floor.

“Under the order issued by this judge in this court,” he claimed, “this principal would not have been able to ask the president of the United States to speak at the school if the president concluded his speech, as he often does, with the phrase ‘God bless America.’”

He charged that the precedent set by this case would eventually result in the Speaker of the House and the House chaplain being threatened with jail for asking for and delivering a prayer, respectively.

Rep. Forbes invoked the Founding Fathers who were dedicated to a set of rights “given to us by the very Creator, the mention of whom by this principal or this athletic director could now lead them to a jail term.”

“It’s time for Americans to simply say ‘enough is enough,'” Forbes stated.

Rep. Forbes and a bipartisan group of 60 Members of Congress have signed a letter of support to Lay and Freeman.

“The tradition of offering prayer in America has become so interwoven into our nation’s spiritual heritage that to charge someone criminally for engaging in such an innocent practice would astonish the men who founded this country on religious liberty,” their letter said.

The letter noted that Rev. William Linn, the Chaplain of the House in the first session of Congress, began the tradition of beginning each legislative day with prayer.

Lay and Freeman will be put on trial on Thursday, September 17.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Nov
26

Liturgical Calendar

November 26, 2014

Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 21:5-11

Gospel
Date
11/25/14
11/24/14
11/23/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Rev 15: 1-4
Gospel:: Lk 21: 12-19

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
11/25/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 21:5-11

Homily
Date
11/25/14
11/24/14
11/21/14