Yesterday I posted a video of Kevin Lowery, the principal of Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Missouri, offering a prayer and a defense of our country’s religious foundations at his school’s graduation. That was clearly open defiance of our government’s ban on public schools endorsing religion. I also posted a list of publicly available email addresses for principal Lowery, the school board members for Lebanon, and the school superintendent, as well as an email I wrote all of them protesting the intrusion of religious beliefs into the public-school ceremony.
One of these members, Mr. Kim Light, has responded, and with an unusual level of defiance and snark. I reproduce his email here along with his email address, since that was also listed on the Lebanon page of school-board members cited in my earlier post. Notice that Light’s response was copied to the other members of the school board, the school superintendent, and the principal—the same people who received my email. I’ve put the text of his email in bold below:
From: Kim Light email@example.com
CC: “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com, “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com
My question is whether or not this is funded and/or supported by the University of Chicago and is this YouTube viewing conducted using university resources and conducted during time that could be used for instructional or research time.
Sent from my iPhone
I have emailed a response to Mr. Light, copying it to all concerned:
Dear Mr. Light:
Thank you for your response—or rather, your non-response—to my complaint and inquiry about Principal Lowery’s remarks at the Lebanon High School graduation.
I see that you are not only avoiding the issue, but being sarcastic: raising the possibility that I am using the resources of the University of Chicago (which is, by the way, a private school, unlike Lebanon High), as well as the time I am supposed to devote to my job, to complain about the intrusion of religion into the Lebanon School District. Let me assure you that my website post, the YouTube video, and the posting on my website about the school’s behavior, were all done on my private time and on my private website on Saturday morning. None of my university’s resources, nor the time I devote to my job here, were diverted to what I wrote, nor, of course, does anything I said reflect the official positions of the University of Chicago.
Now that I’ve answered your question, perhaps you can answer mine: was the principal’s speech vetted and approved by the Lebanon School Board? And what is being done to prevent further Constitutional violations in the future?
I have posted my complaint, as well as the YouTube video, on my website, which gets between 20,000 and 30,000 views per day. My original post is here: http://whyevolutionistrue.com/2014/05/31/public-high-school-principal-prays-at-graduation/. I will also post your email response so readers can see the kind of insouciance and disdain you bring to this serious issue.
Please note that I am not the only one upset at Principal Lowery’s decision to drag religion into the graduation ceremony. If you look at the comments on my post, you’ll see that Mr. Lowery’s oration also offended a graduating senior of your school as well as her parent, who has complained to both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom from Religion Foundation about Lowery’s remarks. As a person with legal standing, the parent of course can be party to a legal complaint against the principal, the superintendent, and your school board. Here is what the parent wrote on my site:
“I was an audience member at this event, and my graduating daughter was very offended and upset by this. I’ve already contacted the ACLU about this. Thank you for your blog post.
. . . I was pretty enraged about the whole event. The strong audience cheers are only going to further ostracize the students who don’t share his belief. It is inappropriate and rude to shame students at their own graduation ceremony for being different–intentional or not.”
I don’t think you’re aware of the serious issues involved here. Instead of writing a snarky email in response to my complaint, you should be pondering how to prevent future violations of the Constitution in your school district. You should also be aware that, given the complaints to the FFRF and ACLU, it is likely that legal proceedings are in the offing, and that your dismissive behavior will not help matters.
I sincerely hope that other members of the school board, the Superintendent of Schools, and Principal Lowery do not see my email in the same dismissive light that you did. Such recalcitrant behavior will, in the long run, only harm your school district.
I am sending your response (and this response from me) to the other members of the Board, and to the superintendent and principal; and will post them both on my website. It is instructive to see this kind of behavior from a member of a public school board, someone supposedly responsible for making sure that students are properly educated for the responsibilities of citizenship.
I wondered who Mr. Light was, and found that he is President and Senior Credit Officer of Heritage Bank of the Ozarks. Here is his photo from that page (I always like to see what opponents look like):
The announcement of his appointment at the bank , and a bit about his background, can be seen in the August, 25, 2011 issue of the Lebanon Daily Record.