During her 30-second message Erica spoke about her faith in Jesus Christ. Afterwards, she was escorted to see the assistant principal, who said she would not receive her diploma because of the speech she had given. Principal Brewer later indicated that her comments were "immature." He said that she could only receive her diploma if she apologized to the school community. Erica prepared a statement saying the message was her own and was not endorsed by the principal. Brewer insisted that she include the words: "I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did." Erica complied because she feared the school would withhold her diploma. She was also afraid that the school would put disciplinary notes in her file and would generate negative publicity, which could prevent her from becoming a school teacher. Principal Brewer sent out Erica's message in an e-mail to the entire high school community. Soon after, Erica received her diploma.
Liberty Counsel sent a letter on behalf of Erica to the Lewis Palmer School District Board of Education, explaining that her First Amendment rights had been violated, and requested that the district apologize for the e-mail that Erica was forced to write and institute a written policy to ensure that no future constitutional violations occur. The school board has thus far taken no remedial steps. Meanwhile, Erica continues to be the subject of public criticism from school officials.
I've never understood the objection to letting students speak about their faith publicly. To do otherwise is censorship and infringes upon freedom of speech. I mean, there is no freedom to remain unoffended in the Constitution, and if you get offended over a 30-second speech about Jesus, then you need to get yourself some thicker skin.
While schools reacting to students' public displays of Christianity like this regularly, they almost never react negatively if it is a non-Christian. Christianity alone is under attack. And with Erica's case, they took it a step too far, in not only witholding her diploma, but actually threatening to disciplinary notes in her file and publicly criticize her, therefore threatening her future as a teacher.
Now, Liberty Counsel does not usually file suit. After a letter, the school apparently will respond. But Lewis-Palmer High School didn't, and has taken no steps in apologizing for their behavior, and Erica continues to be the subject of public criticism by school officials. They had no choice but to move forward, a decision that was fully warranted.
When does this assault on Christianity stop? When will Christians decide they're tired of being bullied and stand up for themselves?
Hat Tip: Stop the ACLU