Below is a copy of the letter that the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent yesterday to the Superintendent of the Lebanon, Missouri School District, as well as to all members of the Lebanon School Board. The author, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott, lays out on pages 2 and 3 the legal case (and the precedents) for Principal Lowery’s speech constituting a violation of the First Amendment.
Oh, and I’m delighted to be cited in a footnote with reference to Kim Light’s misguided accusation that I wrote my post using the resources and time that should be devoted to my day job. I bet Mr. Light is having second thoughts about that.
I am not a legal expert (I just report possible legal violations to those who are experts), but my guess is that the Lebanon School Board will cave on this issue, and perhaps even apologize for Principal Lowery’s speech. If they don’t, and given the presence of someone with standing (the “local complainant”) as a possible plaintiff, they’ll face expensive litigation, which they’ll lose, and then have to pay substantial court costs. They should really consult their lawyers.
Oh, and all those people who wrote me about what the Constitution really says on the Principal’s speech: read the letter above and then lick your wounds.
I must add here that Hemant “The Friendly Atheist” Mehta now owes me drinks, unless he wants to contest the case law cited by Elliott.
Finally, I’d urge people who approve of interventions like the above to join the Freedom From Religion Foundation (full disclosure: I am on the honorary board), which is, to my mind, the most activist and effective secular organization in the U.S. You can join here, and it’s only a paltry $40 a year. For that you get—besides the satisfaction of knowing that your money actually works for secularism instead of enabling a bunch of keyboard warriors—an awesome and meaty monthly newspaper that details the organization’s activities, cases, and also gives a lot of amusing quotes from religious people, as well as a selection of the FFRFs own hate mail, which is far nastier than mine.