I’ve heard from two more students at Lebanon High School in Missouri, one of whom (the first email below) was not afraid to be identified by name. As these emails mount up, perhaps the Lebanon School Board might want to take note of the number of students offended by overt displays of religion by school officials—but who say nothing out of fear. And surely there are others like these who are too afraid to tell anyone.
Apparently the Christian proselytizing by Principal Lowery in school has been going on for some time (I’ve bolded some bits of the emails showing that), but nobody outside of town was aware of it until the video of his graduation
speech prayer was posted. There is a long-standing pattern here and it simply must stop. Again, the bolding below is mine:
My name is Alyssa Ishman and I am going to be a senior at Lebanon High School this coming school year. It does not matter to me if I am kept anonymous or not. I am an active member in the LHS Band, and a big part of being in band is playing at graduation; I have had to play at Lebanon’s graduation for 2 years now. The graduation speech Mr. Lowery gave my Sophomore year (2013) was no where as religious as this years was. I was ready for the normal “The law says I can’t pray at school functions, but if I could this is what I would say.” that he says every graduation, assembly, etc. What he said this year though appalled me. This being said his speech didn’t offend me at first. I have been raised a Catholic for a good majority of my life, and even though I don’t really believe in “God” I still go to church from time to time. It wasn’t until I started thinking about how the visitors that are of a different belief system must of felt did I really start to get upset. I have grown up in a very open-minded household; If I wanted to go to church that was okay, if I didn’t that was okay too. So, I don’t take to having religion thrown at me very well. People are arguing that if I didn’t like what was being said I should of left; For some people this would of worked, but I was getting a grade for being there. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mr. Lowery. He really cares about all of his students, not just the athletes. I’m glad someone finally called him out on this, but I really hope he doesn’t lose his job over it. I don’t think I can think of anybody who is more devoted to LHS than he is.
I hope this helped, feel free to ask any questions or anything of that sort.
I assured Ms. Ishman that nobody is going after the principal’s job (I’m certainly not). The students seem to like him a lot, and we simply want the school to conform to Constitutional law. I hope Ms. Ishman doesn’t experience too much pushback from her classmates or neighbors. When I write the students back to confirm that they want their names used (I always do this twice), I remind them of the opprobrium and hatred faced by Jessica Ahlquist—and she was in Rhode Island!
Here’s the second (anonymous) email, whose authenticity I’ve verified. For you skeptics, these two letters, though both from people raised as Catholics, were not written by the same person using two names.
Hello, I am a [REDACTED]- year old student at LHS. My name is [REDACTED], and I give you permission to post any comments from this email, however I wish to remain anonymous. I’ve attended Lebanon my entire high school career and I love it. I really do. And I love our principle, Mr.Lowery. He’s active in our school, and despite popular belief he pays a lot of attention to our academic teams as well as our sports teams. However, when it comes to religion, he has always made his beliefs clear in a very public manner. I couldn’t begin to tell you on how many occasions he’s pulled the, “Now I can’t pray, but if I could I’d say…” and it really has bothered me. I was raised Catholic and my entire family is fairly religious. However, I’m constantly in arguments about my lack of a religious affiliation. I prefer the co-exist and day-by-day lifestyle. So when my principle is closed minded when it comes to other religions, I get frustrated. I honestly wouldn’t care if he said what he had to say in a more relaxed social setting, but he said it in front of thousands of people, as a representative of LHS. I just wish he would be more open and respectful of other people’s, especially his students and their families, beliefs or lack there of. As I mentioned before, I love having him as a principle and I love attending LHS, but if religion is mentioned it’s a battlefield, and I’m in the minority.
In a subsequent email, the student added this:
Thank you for listening to me and taking an interest in our school, most the time my friends and I cope with the close minded ness by brushing it off with, “it’s Lebanon Missouri!” I’m glad that’s no longer an excuse. 🙂