Licking Valley School District (Yes, the name is very strange I confess) in Ohio took a stand against the anti-theist group Freedom from Religion Foundation. The FFRF asked the district to cancel a school assembly that was put on by a Christian organization called Jubilee Gang, which the district invited as part of their education program to build character. The district refused to comply with the request and Alliance Defending Freedom decided to highlight their efforts in a recent letter.
“We write in support of the District’s decision not to prohibit school assemblies that contribute to its educational program based on the personal religious beliefs of the presenters,” the ADF letter read. “By advocating for the exclusion of people of faith from public life and—in particular—any participation in public schools, FFRF demonstrates that its demands are not based on law but on a blatant hostility to religion that directly conflicts with the First Amendment’s protection of religious free exercise.”
According to the letter, the Jubilee Gang presents a “secular program promoting character development and good citizenship to kick off Licking Valley Intermediate School’s Renaissance program, which rewards certain behavioral and academic goals.”
ADF said that the program was “consistent with the school’s curriculum” and “taught students to set goals, be a good example, make good choices, and persevere when you fail.”
Isn’t it interesting the things that the anti-theists stand against? I think it’s actually quite telling, don’t you?
However, ADF rightly pointed out the lawless nature of the Freedom from Religion Foundation as they boldly declared, “Canceling the Jubilee Gang Assembly Would Have Violated the Free Exercise Clause.”
“The Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from ‘regulat[ingj or prohibit[ing] conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons.'” The letter continued, citing Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 532 (1993). “But that is exactly what FFRF demands that the District do by prohibiting Jubilee Gang assemblies based on the presenters’ religious motivations. It has been abundantly clear for decades that ‘government . . . cannot in a selective manner impose burdens only on conduct motivated by religious belief,’ such as presenting at public schools, without running afoul ‘of the rights guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause.'”
“Public schools should be commended when they decline to give in to unfounded threats by those who misunderstand the First Amendment,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Licking Valley School District was right to reject Freedom From Religion Foundation’s false view that neutrality toward religion requires schools to reject beneficial programs simply because they are presented by Christians. That is not neutrality but targeted religious discrimination that the First Amendment forbids.”
“Attacking educational programs that provide children with non-religious character-building lessons just because the presenters happen to be Christian is shameful,” ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray added. “We hope other school districts follow Licking Valley’s example and stand up to the illegitimate demands of anti-religious groups that distort the meaning of the First Amendment.”
Ultimately, the legal counsel of ADF commended the school district for their courageous and lawful stand against the anti-theist Freedom from Religion Foundation.
“Your District was right to reject FFRF’s unjustified demands and to provide students with the important information communicated at the Jubilee Gang assembly,” the group of ADF attorney wrote to the school.
Licking Valley is doing what others have done in the face of the bullying tactics of the anti-theists. They are simply following in the footsteps of cheerleaders who will not allow their prayers to be silenced, Georgia schools who want to honor God in prayer and with monuments of His faithfulness.
Once again, those who stand up for righteousness and truth find their reward in victory against those who are opposed to God and law. Well done Licking Valley School District, well done!