I’m not sure that the citizens of Lebanon, Missouri realize that they’ve got a Constitution problem on their hands. Not only are they vociferously defending principal Lowery’s prayer to God at the Lebanon High School graduation, but they’ve started a Facebook page in his defense.
Now it’s fine for a community to support its beloved principal, but it’s not all right—with me, at least—to both openly praise his violation of the law, and do so defiantly. And, in the process, they continue to document that Lowery’s graduation speech was not a one-off thing, but part of a pattern of long-term religious proselytizing in that school. In so doing, they’re just providing potential ammunition for a lawsuit.
But take a look first at the “Standing strong with Kevin Lowery” Facebook page. Here’s the banner, complete with crosses and a sentence from Lowery’s graduation prayer (after his “moment of silence,” he proceeded to tell the students that he used his moment to pray to God).
The latest picture from the page:
And some new comments, selected pretty much at random. The first one’s a doozy:
They aren’t allowed to be openly Christian? Of course they are! They just can’t foist their beliefs on a captive audience while acting as an agent of the government. Somehow the distinction escapes them. . .
But wait! There’s more!:
Uh oh. . . look here:
Do these people realize what they’re doing? Are they too thick to see that they’re documenting an illegal pattern of behavior? Or don’t they care?
From another public Facebook page, “Lebanon underground breaking news”, sent by a resident who omitted last names. People are furious at the school board for supposedly making Lowery apologize, although he said he apologized on his own:
“Sad day for Lebanon I for one think this community would have stood behind our school and our principle. Just another case of caving …it’s no wonder we as Christians have no voice. As soon as pressure is put on we deny our God and our Freedoms. I already sent an email to R3 letting them know how I felt I encourage you to do the same. Matthew 10: 33”
“An APOLOGY?! SCREW THAT! I understand their reasoning I guess, but in no way will i EVER apologize for my faith! What a bunch of petty ridiculousness this is!”
“So sad that we live in such a “politically correct” world that we would feel it necessary to publicly apologize for the mention of God in our schools. And we wonder why the world is the way it is……………….”
“I was there as well & in no way should anyone be offended by what he said. Shame on R3 for not backing him up.”
“Shame on the administration and whoever else made this decision”
“Wow….shame on you R3. Everyone can have a religious opinion except a Christian is that it??!”
“The school board must be against God then”
“Shame on the district for not standing behind him.
He didn’t force anyone else to pray or thank GOD.
So sick and tired of people getting up tight when GOD is mentioned.”
“I knew a bunch of losers ran the Lebanon school district–I feel sorry for these people that are complaining when they have to stand before GOD when they leave this earth.”
“Whoever on the R3 board that decided for this apology?? I would like OFF THE school board. I support the schools by paying taxes every year, I have two kids in school myself… And this speech was making a community proud of its schools. I am tired of Christians being discriminated upon, having no voice and expected to adhere to everyone else’s nasty and immoral ways so we don’t discriminate on them.
So whoever made this decision…. You’re not needed in this community on the school board… You’re hypocritical and unnecessary for our children’s needs”
“Unreal… The R3 district should be ashamed of themselves for even considering an apology… They need to apologize to the community for the lack of services offered to our children, and the way they treat their staff…. NOT apologize for a staff memeber that was in his right to speak on behalf of himself, the graduating students and families. Someone needs to start a petition for a complete NEW SCHOOL BOARD in this town. I will be the first to sign. We can’t complain unless we are willing to make a stand!!!”
I should add that there are one or two voices of sanity on that page, but they’re quickly overwhelmed by the goddies.
Finally, Principal Lowery has his own publicly-accessible Facebook page, and here’s the banner:
And a picture shared by the principal:
I thought the following comments came from Lowery’s own Facebook page (I don’t have a record of where I got the screenshot), but they could be from one of the other two pages. (I believe Lowery has either removed comments from his page since yesterday or made them private, but I may be wrong). At any rate, they document both the community religiosity as well as the pattern of religiosity in the school. None of these came from “friends” of Lowery who have access to private comments, as I don’t post such things.
Notice the first comment:
It appears that these folks are so blinded by their affection for Mr. Lowery, or by their faith, that they’re shoveling coal into the boiler of The One-Way Train to Lawsuitville. But the damage is already done. There have been many comments and emails noting that Lowery repeatedly prayed not just at graduations, but at school assemblies. Any decent lawyer could document a pattern of illegal and unconstitutional behavior.
Unfortunately, Champion Jesus can’t save Lebanon from the law.