By: Bill Bosher
A Roanoke principal is in the hot seat because he posted a social media site for Christian educators. A Richmond City Council member is under fire for having prayer on school property…on Saturday…with a license.
While some legal experts are saying that there is no place for religion in the public sector, it seems that the First Amendment protects multiple rights…and one is speech.
While public schools should always avoid teaching a dogma or faith, they are places that protect speech. The 1995 Virginia Department of Education Guidelines for Religious Activities in Public Schools indicated that students may wear religious symbols, draw religious art, carry religious texts, and meet as religious groups.
While prayer at graduation is limited to spontaneous expressions during student remarks, there is nothing that prohibits students from praying in schools.
I am not an attorney; however, the mere presence of religion in schools should not be offensive. It is also ironic that a presentation by a Buddhist monk is likely to be called enculturation but a speech by a Baptist minister is called insensitive.
When will the principal or the city council member no longer be able to attend church or teach a Sunday school class because it's feared that a public official might endorse a faith.
In the Virginia Bill of Religious Freedom, Mr. Jefferson wrote what is called the precursor of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, "but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."