Obvious violations of the first amendment in public schools can include a sign with an obvious religious message, a teacher proselytizing, or a school promoted event sponsored by a religious group that includes a sermon or prayer. There are, however, many smaller violations going on all the time that might be harder to see or stop. It takes all of us, checking into our local schools, to police these minor violations and to educate people about the 1st amendment.
Richmond, Va Mayor Dwight C. Jones
Richmond, Virginia Mayor Dwight C. Jones has a problem. According to news reports, it seems that work done for the church he heads was done by vendors and contractors that also do business for the city and it looks like at least one city employee used city time and e-mail to oversee construction at the church on behalf of the Mayor. The appearance of irregularity is something that needs to be investigated but the Mayor believes the scrutiny is a violation of the separation of church and state. You can’t use the 1st amendment to block an ethics investigation.
Pastor B.J. Van Aman of the Pickerington Baptist Temple, Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, and Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville with head bowed in prayer in the Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday January 26, 2016
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R) cut off the opening prayer, in the Ohio House of Representatives, Tuesday, after it went past 5 minutes in length. In reviewing the rules for a prayer opening the legislature, it’s clear the prayer should have been stopped much sooner for violating court advised guidelines and not just for length.
Michael Newdow has a history of lawsuits to support church and state separation. After addressing the phrase ‘Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, Newdow recently filed a lawsuit, in Ohio, to have the US Motto ‘In God We Trust’ removed from our currency. The difference this time is he plans on using the same argument Hobby Lobby used to get out of the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Newdow’s strategy is very interesting and looks promising.
Justice Antonin Scalia
About once a year or so, Justice Antonin Scalia gets in front of a Catholic school assembly and tells the students that there is no constitutional tradition that says the state must be neutral on religion or free of religion. At least he is consistent. He is consistently wrong about separation of church and state.
FFRF Display that scared Gov. Abbott
It didn’t take long for Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a radical Christian, to subjectively decide what is covered under the 1st amendment and what isn’t. He had a display from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) removed from the capitol building after arbitrarily deciding it didn’t meet the criteria for putting up displays in the building.