School officials face possible jail terms for praying against court orders

“[T]here will come a day when the speaker [of the United States House of Representatives] will be hauled into federal court and threatened with jail because she dares to stand at that podium .. and ask the chaplain to start our day with the prayer.”

Not soon enough, I’m afraid.

These words were uttered by Virginia Rep J. Randy Forbes in reference to a trial going on now in Florida in which two sdhool official are facing charges for violation of the Constitution of the United States of America. Which part of The Constitution? The part that Republicans, Right Wingers, Libertarians and other conservatives chose selectively to ignore.

The two educators are being tried in federal district court in Pensacola for breaching the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU sued Santa Rosa County School District a year ago on behalf of two students who claimed that some teachers and administrators were allowing prayers at school events, orchestrating separate religiously themed graduation services and proselytizing students during class and after school.

In January, the school district settled out of court with the ACLU, agreeing to several conditions, including the barring of all school employees from promoting or sponsoring prayers during school-sponsored events.

Good for the ACLU.

Two of the teaches arranged group praywer at a lunch held by the school and an associated booster club. There were no students at the lunch, but it was a school event US District Court Judge Margaret Rodgers issued a contempt order for the two men.

So to be clear: The crime for which they currently stand trial is not praying. It is contempt of a federal court.

There have been other instances of pushing prayer into various school events, but for now they have been overlooked.

For more information on this, visit the Texas Freedom Network. The above quote is from The Washington Times of Thursday, Sep 17th 2009. The WT site is very badly behaved so I can’t link to it.

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0 thoughts on “School officials face possible jail terms for praying against court orders

  1. Mike H, you just solved the budget crisis! Use a variation of the “cuss bucket” idea, but it’s a “prayer fine”. They can pray if they’d like, but they have to pay a couple million bucks directly to the schools. Everybody wins!

  2. I’m not sure “everybody wins” – in most cases, the money comes from the District, and the kids are the ones who end up paying.

  3. Badger: In the long run, that actually works quite well. Dover paid through the nose. Bad for them, and the populous would have the right to rise up and drive the school board and administrators into the swamp, and even sue them for the fines (wich I believe did happen). But, now, every single school district in the country with access to brain neurons is very interested not having a repeat of that.

    So the fines do work, but jail would be more fun.

  4. I’m fairly curios why you add libertarians to the list of people who want prayer in public schools–the hard core libertarians don’t even want public schools, let alone official prayer in them.

    You may be thinking of the Constitution party-Kind of semi-libertarian but with lots of New Testament.

    I wonder when (or if) the Kentucky school I went to for a year quit having missionaries tell Bible stories once a week. Odd place–my teacher got tenure before a college degree was required to teach.

  5. Mike Haubrich, don’t worry about anyone confusing you for THAT “Mike H,” your writing styles vary too much and you appear to have functioning neurons.

  6. I was disturbed by your lumping Libertarians in with Republicans as well. Republicans think we’re liberals and liberals don’t know what we stand for, apparently.

  7. Chas,I was not lumping, but rather, observing. People who call themselves libertarians are pretty diverse, but there are plenty of prayer-pushing libertarians. Libertarians are often very similar to Republicans in that they have a political philosophy that requires that other people share their political philosophy, to a greater degree than most political philosophies do.

  8. The libertarian philosophy I am familiar with is pretty much “Don’t boss me, don’t touch my stuff, I’ll do the same for you”. I can’t see any reasonable way that this could be considered requiring others to share philosophy, especially compared to liberal “We require everyone to chip in and help the less fortunate”. Or the conservative “our Christian values should be law, it’s one nation under God” for that matter.

  9. Sevesteen #12:

    The libertarian philosophy I am familiar with is pretty much “Don’t boss me, don’t touch my stuff, I’ll do the same for you”.

    I think the more common attitude of libertarians is “Don’t boss me, don’t touch my stuff, leave me be to do whatever I want and I’ll let you do whatever I want too.”

  10. Ha! Libertarians would extend civil rights to all sorts of people. This discussion mirrors my arguments with right wingers. When I tell them that drug abusers shouldn’t be jailed for harming themselves they assume that I am a drug abuser and only want this because of my own fears of being imprisoned. Libertarians attempt to be principled and rational in their thoughts of governance.

  11. Libertarians would extend civil rights to all sorts of people. This discussion mirrors my arguments with right wingers.

    You’re using the traditional definition of “libertarian”. Unfortunately, the term has been appropriated by the right wing. Most people who call themselves “libertarian” now are either moderate Republicans who are embarrassed to admit to it, or are hard cases who think the Republicans have gone soft.

  12. The label “Libertarian” is at least in the U.S. not specific enough. It is used to identify a broad swath of people who are basically ‘anti-government’ and people self identify as libertarian who are all over the political spectrum.

    There’s the classic liberatarian and want absolute minimal government interference in everything (which Chas appears to be.

    There’s the states-rights libertarian who is in favor of small federal government but doesn’t seem to mind invasive government as long as it’s the local government doing it (most often them operate with the view that they will have significant influence over what local government does and so it’s invasions will be to their favor).

    There’s the liberal libertarians who favor maximum civil rights for individuals but fairly strict regulation of business and focusing federal revenues on social programs.

    There’s the big business libertarians who favor no regulation of business at all but want a strong police state to ensure a safe operating environment for their business.

    And then there’s the most vocal* subset of libertarians who believe in small government except when they want the government to force everyone to hew to their personal beliefs, most often some form of Dominionist Christianity.

    I’m sure I’ve left out at least a half dozen or more, including the ‘single issue/narrow spectrum’ libertarians who are largely apolitical except in the are of their specific interest(read: legalizing pot).

    *not the largest group, just the loudest

  13. Don’t the teabaggers call ’emselves Libertarians?

    The guys who are in trouble with the law should welcome a jail term; it will give them a chance to save themselves by preaching in jail. Since they are not part of the penal system, they won’t be running foul of the constitution while preaching to the prison population. Of course being invited to preach by any prison official would mean that someone’s breaking the law again.

  14. The Tea Party protests are based on agreement between conservatives and libertarians on a particular issue. Lots of libertarians, but certainly not exclusive, and I doubt majority.

    We split with the conservatives on most of their desire to get government to enforce their “family values” or to enforce American values on other countries.

    In fact, if you want to enforce something on individuals, we are probably on the other side.

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