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The Liberty Loft
The Liberty Loft
18 Nov 2023
Bob Unruh

NextImg:Legal team steps in to defend teacher punished for praying in public

It’s widely recognized that students do not shed their constitutional rights at the school door.

Repeatedly, the Supreme Court has affirmed that some restrictions, things like time and place, are allowed, in very limited circumstances.

Now the American Center for Law and Justice is battling for the same thing for teachers.

While teachers unions, and some school districts, have gone off the rails with leftist, DEI, CRT and Marxist ideologies, many haven’t.

But they were told they could not pray if they could be seen doing that.

The legal team explained, “Our client, a teacher in Texas, had gathered with two friends and fellow teachers to pray at the school flagpole before school began as part of ‘See You at the Pole,’ a national event where millions of people around the country gather at flagpoles to pray. The school principal called these teachers into his office. He told them that they could not pray at the pole or in the presence of students, because if they did so, students may see and join in. He told them that it was against the law for them to pray publicly where students could see them.”

But, the legal team explained, “This is not the law. On the contrary, the Constitution protects the rights of religious employees to exercise their faith, even publicly, so long as they are not doing so in a coercive way. Recently, in Kennedy v. Bremerton, the Supreme Court made clear that teachers and coaches do not lose their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse door. We filed an amicus brief in the case and fought for this victory for religious freedom, defending the rights of teachers to engage in appropriate acts of public religious expression.”

The organization, previously, took action to “protect the rights of participants in the public school system to express their faith.”

The ACLJ said, “The policy of the school in Kennedy was similar to the policy we addressed here; it ordered Coach Kennedy not to engage in any ‘demonstrative’ religious activity in front of his students in order to avoid any possibility that students might participate. The school attempted to justify this policy on the basis of the Establishment Clause. The court wholeheartedly rejected this policy as a violation of the First Amendment, repudiating its purported basis in the Establishment Clause.”

The aggravating circumstance in this situation, the ACLJ reported, is that school officials said they “must” prohibit teachers from “demonstrative religious activity,” because of the Constitution.

“In the name of protecting religious liberty, the district would have us suppress it. Rather than respect the First Amendment’s double protection for religious expression, it would have us [prefer] secular activity. Not only could schools fire teachers for praying quietly over their lunch, for wearing a yarmulke to school, or for offering a midday prayer during a break before practice. Under the district’s rule, a school would be to do so.”

In fact, the lawyers explained, “The Constitution protects the rights of public school employees to engage in religious speech, even before others, when that speech is not in their official capacity.”

What schools cannot do, it explained, is “prevent school employees who are off the clock from expressing their religious faith.”

The legal team said it sent a demand letter to the as-yet-unidentified district, demanding a halt to the First Amendment violations.

“If the school system refuses to protect her First Amendment rights, then we will . . . in court,” the ACLJ said.

This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

This post originally appeared on WND News Center.