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The Snoop 6.12.2014

The Lebanon School District, and specifically High School Principal Kevin Lowery, recently made national headlines over comments made by the principal at the high school graduation on May 23.
After asking for a moment of silence in honor of the graduates, Lowery announced: “…just in case you’re interested, during my moment of silence, I gave thanks to God for these great students, their parents, their teachers and for this community.”
The auditorium erupted in applause, but apparently a couple of people took offense at Lowery’s comments and contacted people they knew would support them, such as Dave Muscato, a spokesman for American Atheists, and Jerry Coyne* of The Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Coyne wrote under the heading of The Freedom From Religion Foundation that he had been inundated with outraged e-mails and phone calls from “goddies and ignoramuses” in Lebanon who were upset “because I criticized their high school principal for preaching about God at the graduation ceremony.” (He didn’t “preach” about God. He only expressed his personal belief in God and reminded everyone that our country was established on godly principles. That’s in the history they used to teach in public schools.)
“In contrast”, Coyne admitted, “I’ve received only two favorable emails, both from people who were at the graduation ceremony and were equally outraged that they were captive to prayers.”
Coyne goes on to say, “Many citizens of Lebanon either don’t understand the First Amendment of the Constitution, the way it’s been interpreted by the courts, or they think that it somehow guarantees their right to pray in public schools.” (Perhaps it is Coyne who doesn’t understand.)
In another paragraph, Coyne comments: “Many citizens of Lebanon are simply rude, writing me unsolicited e-mails, or calling my office, to give me a piece of their mind.”
In reading these comments, I find it interesting that those who take the anti-God stand refer to the “interpretation of the Constitution”, but hesitate to quote the Constitution verbatim. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Look again at Coyne’s comment: “They think that it somehow guarantees their right to pray in public schools.” By my interpretation, it absolutely guarantees their right to pray.
The Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…or the right of the people to peaceably assemble…”
Another who wrote in support of the principal said: “Principal Lowery is protected by (the First) Amendment to the free exercise of religion. He is protected also in that he can present his speech unabridged. That means he can say what he wishes. You might say he represents the government, and therefore it is a violation. That is also incorrect. We are all individuals first, and he is not passing laws to affect your beliefs in any way. I am certain you will agree after reading the Bill of Rights or the first 10 Amendments, that they were established to protect the rights of the individual from government.”
One who responded said it well when he stated, “We support the Lebanon High School principal, and we ask Chicago elitists like yourself to leave us Missouri folks alone. We still believe in God. We’re not intimidated by atheist professors who condemn free speech.”
“Separation of church and state” is quoted often by those who take the anti-God position, and many believe it is in the Constitution. It is not. The Constitution only says the government shall not establish a national religion.
Just for the record, I was among those in attendance at Lebanon’s high school graduation on Friday, May 23. I heard the comments by the principal and I witnessed the approval shown by the crowd. I, too, applauded him. He did not tell anyone to pray, nor did he pray audibly. He only announced that he had exercised his right to pray during the moment of silence. Others also had the opportunity to pray – or not to pray. That is one of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
*I’m not certain these comments should be attributed to Jerry Coyne but he seems to be the spokesman for The Freedom From Religion Foundation, and he is listed as a board member of the organization. The writer on the organization’s website makes bold, opinionated statements but no names are associated directly to those comments.