Below is the statement of “apology” apparently made by Lebanon High principal Kevin Lowery (and issued by the school district) after the Freedom from Religion Foundation (and other people) complained about Lowery’s intrusive prayers at the school’s graduation:
“I sincerely apologize if any comments made in my speech offended anyone in the audience and our community, especially any of our students, and will strive to not let this happen again. Our district endeavors to fully comply with the laws and Constitution of the United States, and to provide quality education to all of our students. I wish each and everyone of the 332 fine young men and women who graduated that night the best in all of their endeavors.”
-Lebanon High School Principal Kevin Lowery
For additional information Contact:
Director of Communications, Lebanon R-3 School District
I am usually quite charitable about accepting apologies, but this isn’t a genuine apology. Apologies of the sort that say “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” do not show remorse for the conduct, but merely for “offending” people, some of which, of course, Lowery doesn’t think should be offended. Further, he doesn’t say it won’t happen again, but simply that “I will strive not to let this happen again.” Strive? Can’t the principal assure us that it won’t happen again?
Finally, if the district endeavored to fully comply with the laws and Constitution of the U.S., why did Lowery deliberately and knowingly violate those, for in his “prayer speech” he claimed that he knew that what he was saying was “politically incorrect.”
The proselytizing of the school’s officials, teachers, and students goes far deeper than the prayer at graduation, as a student attested yesterday. There are “prayer circles” before exams, no teacher dared host a “diversity club” for nonbelieving and gay students, students proselytize for Christianity in class, and apparently, Principal Lowery wasn’t a stranger to Constitutionally-banned prayer. This is from the student’s letter:
What Mr. Lowery did at the 2014 graduation ceremony is hardly the first time that he danced around the Separation of Church and State for prayer. At the previous graduation ceremony, he said that he is not allowed to say a prayer, but if he could say a prayer, this is what he would say. He added that he would encourage everyone to bow their heads. And if this was not ambiguous enough, he added an “amen” to conclude his statements.
I was surprised. I tried to discuss this with like-minded classmates who informed me that he often prayed before school sponsored sports events. This was of course allowed due to the majority of Lebanon being religious—a population around 15,000 and a church on every corner.
What was “allowed” is, in fact, unconstitutional.
Principal Lowery’s apology is insufficient. What he should have said is that his behavior was wrong, why it was wrong, and that he will assure everyone that the school will, in all its activities, comply with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.
I am not involved in this issue any further, as it’s in the hands of the FFRF’s lawyers. But my own view is that Lowery’s apology is a sham, and that any legal body needs a stronger assurance that there will be no more prayers at public school activities. And, it seems to me—given the depth of religious indoctrination in that school—the FFRF might want to look into things bit more deeply.
For the nonce we’re assured that the Principal will strive not to pray at graduation. That’s not good enough. He needs to stop talking about God and praying in his school. Let him praise God on his own time, and in his own home and church.