Responding to allegations that had been leveled by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Louisiana, Bossier Parish School Board recently said their attorneys found the charges to be baseless. The school board’s decision not to comply with ACLU’s demands was reached during a meeting on October 1.
“We as a community are saying we aren't going to sit around and tell us what we can and can't say,” said Cypress Baptist church pastor John Fream.
A crowd of people gathered before Airline High School to show support for Principal Jason Roland, despite ACLU having accused him of promoting Christianity on school premises.
“We believe it’s okay for our principal to say ‘God bless you’, we believe it’s okay for our students to pray in school,” said Fream.
Last month, Bossier Parish Schools received a warning letter from ACLU, which accused Roland of frequently making references to Christianity and allowing prayer boxes to be placed by students affiliated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). While certain media outlets were told that the prayer boxes were not yet placed when ACLU sent its warning letter to Bossier Parish Schools, the secular group said it had already started to receive complaints from students, who were also tweeting about the development on social media.
Members of FCA confirmed that it was their idea to place the boxes.
“FCA is very open and very loving towards the community, and they want to do what they can outwardly,” said Leah Huber, member of FCA.
While the majority of students seemed unperturbed about FCA’s prayer boxes, ACLU claimed that Roland’s actions still happen to violate the First Amendment of the American Constitution.
“What about our rights, and what about principal's rights to believe in God,” said Fream.
The school board received so much support in Roland’s favor that a prayer rally was organized at Airline High School on October 3.
“It's important that we are here to back up our friend’s family and leaders, because we are going to be the leaders one day,” said student Erin Bullock.
Following the prayer rally, Bossier Parish School Board issued a statement clarifying its stance.
“The Bossier Parish School Board is committed to honoring state and federal law as it relates to the rights of all students, regardless of their religious beliefs. Within the last week, the ACLU has complained about alleged practices at Airline High School relative to prayer, the principal’s monthly messages, prayer boxes and the content of the school’s website. The system has also received Freedom Guard’s open response to the ACLU’s allegations and legal analysis,” read the statement.
After receiving ACLU’s complaint, the school board’s counsel went on to investigate the charges that had been leveled against Roland and Airline High School and eventually concluded that the allegations were factually incorrect and had no legal basis. Hence, the school board decided to reaffirm its policy that ensures the legal rights of every student, including those involved in student-organized religious expression, is respected.
“This statement is being entered into the official minutes of this Board and released to the press. Copies are being sent to the Governor, the State Superintendent of Education, members of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Executive Director of the Louisiana School Board Association as such persons and entities, along with the members of our school communities and parents, are stakeholders in our school system. The Board and its administration welcome meaningful discussion of this and any issue but will base their decisions on the law and facts as they know them to exist. Decisions in the best interest of our students can never result from threats and intimidation,” read the document.
Photo Credits: Believers Stand United