Martyring Themselves on the First Amendment

Please, God, let me pray in school

Fund-raising, Constitution-lowering T-shirt

(I’m still putting in too many hours at work, so I’ll just have to dump this stuff here without too much comment.)

You might have heard about the incident at a Florida high school, where the principal has been interjecting religion for many years. Americans United has the story:

Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and his athletic director, Robert Freeman, have been charged with criminal contempt for violating a federal court order that banned Santa Rosa County school officials from leading students in prayer during school events.

For years, Lay and his staff reportedly entangled their religious beliefs with school events. According to the Pensacola News Journal, under Lay’s leadership, Pace High School became known as “the Baptist Academy.” Teachers and staff delivered prayers and invited students or outside leaders to lead prayers during school activities. Teachers read from the Bible and discussed church attendance with students. Students were encouraged to attend religious clubs and incorporate religion into their schoolwork.

Earlier this year, the ACLU stepped in, suing the school district, the superintendent and Lay. The school district admitted its church-state transgressions, and a court order to keep religion promotion outside the classroom was issued on Jan. 19 by U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. The school signed a permanent agreement to this effect on May 6.

But less than two weeks after the court injunction, Lay asked Freeman to offer an invocational prayer at a luncheon for school personnel and booster club members. A board member present at the event reported the violation.

Now, Lay and Freeman could face fines or jail time for violating the court order. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19.

Instead [of] reprimanding the pair as bad role models for breaking the law, some are trying to turn these two men into Religious Right martyrs.

OneNeuronNow, of course, has picked up the story:

Matt Staver is founder of Liberty Counsel, which will argue the court order prohibiting prayer at school-related events violated Lay’s and Freeman’s constitutional rights.

Staver adds it is outrageous to punish a school official with potential jail time for simply praying.

Somehow the principal’s constitutional rights are important, but the rights of hundreds of high school students aren’t.

In a separate article, ONN also tells us about a legal defense fund set up for these two. The image at the top of this post is the T-shirt they’re selling to raise funds.

That last website also has a link to a fawning Fox News piece about how wonderful these guys are and how evil the ACLU is. Rather than embed that, I found this rebuttal to it:

13 Responses to “Martyring Themselves on the First Amendment”

  1. cousinavi Says:

    I’m from Truro, Nova Scotia (check a map…the pointy end of the Bay of Fundy points pretty much at my house).

    Just wanted to drop by and compliment you on your blog title.

  2. Thomas Says:

    I want one of those T-shirts and, if it didn’t involve giving money to scumbags, I’d go ahead and buy one. It’s just ironic enough to wear to a goth club.

  3. Ron Britton Says:


    A lot of Canadians like the pun. I suspect they’re the only ones who get it.

  4. cousinavi Says:

    @ Ron

    Highest tides in the world, toughest mean ass lobsters on the planet, and sweet juicy scallops.

    We supplied Joe Kenedy with all the rum, gin and whiskey Capone could sell, and we still crank put the meanest fiddle this side of whoever’s playing with Bela Fleck this week.

    Have you ever been?
    When you want the absolute BEST vacation you ever had or ever will, drop me a note. I’ll set you up with a proper kitchen party.
    Nothing prettier, and the best folks on earth. Nova Scotia, me old trout…don’t die without finding out.

  5. Ron Britton Says:


    I haven’t been there. It’s on my long list of places to see before I die.

  6. cousinavi Says:

    No joke, brother.
    Make NS your next vacation destination. Drop me a note.
    We’ll make Bluenoser out of you, eh.

    “I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier, the last of Barrett’s Privateers…”

    You can take my word for this: You’ll never go anywhere better or have a finer time.

  7. Allen Says:

    Found these reviews of of Pace H.S. on Google Maps (of all places)

    “… I love the fact that it gives off a christian persona….and I hope it always stays this way! For those of you who do not agree with this and the way the administration believe….there are other schools to choose from…go …‎”

    “…the administration acts as if it’s a private christian school…

    “…there is a huge religious undertone that tends to be a bit over the line.”

    I think that prety my says it all.

  8. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Somehow the principal’s constitutional rights are important, but the rights of hundreds of high school students aren’t.

    It’s always about their rights. This country was founded by God for their benefit, after all.

  9. SamHouston Says:

    If prayer “works” why do they need to sell T-shirts to raise money for a legal defense? They should represent themselves before the judge and speak the words that god “supplies” them at the critical moments.

    Hope they don’t read this and “smarten up” (as my Nova Scotian wife says). Poor kids. Nothing really fails as badly as a child’s prayer. But, it could be the first big xian lie that opens their minds to reason.

    Speaking of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Go there in July, the only 4 weeks of warm weather in NS. (OK — the first and last weeks of July are very cool.) Take the time to hike to Cape Split. Take a wide-angle lens camera for some great shots.

  10. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Ah, but Sam. They would just say “praying is not a vending machine” and then you’ll be left pondering the great George Carlin sketch about praying to Joe Pesci.

  11. O1d Ord3r Says:

    I went to pace high school(class of 09) and this is absolutely right, try to have a discussion with people there about the bible being wrong and the whole class turns against you its fucking insane. Its more the principal then the teachers though, people like Mr.Smith and Mrs. Trew hear both sides and mediate debates that i started in class. Fun times.

  12. denise Says:

    as much as i think he should not be allowed to bring prayer and stuff into schools, i think aver reacting with jail time, is just as bad.

    look this guy can’t separate his beliefs from the school, and that needs to change, but jail?that is a little to extreme and it does kinda make us(atheists) look like the bad guy.

    we should always look for a common ground, if christians feel threatened all they will do is fight back, there must be must compromise.

    and anyway,there were always prayers said at my high school functions, but no one was forced to participate and i never felt like my rights were violated.

  13. Ron Britton Says:


    i think aver reacting with jail time, is just as bad.

    The jail time isn’t being imposed by atheists or the ACLU. Once a court order is involved, any violation is considered contempt of court. He’s not being thrown in jail for praying. He’s being thrown in jail for violating a judge’s orders.

    there were always prayers said at my high school functions, but no one was forced to participate and i never felt like my rights were violated.

    A long history of infringing your rights does not justify the continuation of that infringement. And just because you weren’t bothered by it doesn’t mean others weren’t.