Having been born and raised in Georgia, I can attest to the fact that folks in this part of the country take their religion very seriously. Too seriously at times, in my opinion. And this story is the perfect example of that.
A lawsuit was recently settled in which teachers at Swainsboro Primary School basically coaxed, cajoled, and finally bullied a first grader until the child agreed to participate in daily school prayer.
Keep in mind this child came from a family that was non-religious, and isn’t prayer in public schools supposed to be illegal as per numerous Supreme Court rulings?
Two students, one in kindergarten and the other a first-grader, were identified in the suit as Jamie and Jesse Doe. They brought the forced prayers to the attention of the parents, identified as John and Jane Doe, in August 2014. John Doe notified the school that teacher-led prayers were a violation of the constitutional rights of his family.
But rather than stopping the prayers, the Doe children were told to sit in the hallway during class prayer time. Jesse, who was in first grade, told John and Jane Doe what happened, saying the teacher used “her mean voice” when she told the child to leave her classroom so she could lead the other students in prayer.
The Doe parents took their youngest child out of school when the child repeatedly talked about feeling uncomfortable as a result of the daily classroom prayers. Jesse Doe continued to attend first grade at the school.
The parents also contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The organization sent a letter to school officials, making it clear that the teachers’ actions were violating the rights of the Doe family. According to the lawsuit, an attorney for the school sent a response letter, asserting that the school superintendent had “talked with the principal of the primary school and taken steps to stop the conduct.”
“Talk to Jesse about her personal conception of the Christian god. She spent almost the entire recess period explaining her personal views on Christianity’s god: that God loves Jesse and that God made the world.”
That same teacher also told the first grader that he should not listen to his mother because:
“(She) is a bad person for not believing in God.”
Shortly after the case was settled, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued this statement:
“We’re pleased that the Emanuel County Schools has taken action to correct the egregious constitutional violations that were taking place in its classrooms. No devotions and religious practices should take place in public schools, and no small child should ever be pressured to take part in such illegal practices. More than 50 years of clear Supreme Court precedent bar such coercive conduct, because religion in schools is divisive and builds walls between children.”
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.