Family Research Council

March 31, 2014 - Monday

School Cafeteria: No Prayer for You!

At Carillon Elementary School, teachers on cafeteria duty weren't monitoring lunch, they were out to lunch on students' rights. When the daughter of Marcos Perez bowed her head to pray, a teacher interrupted her and said, "You're not allowed to do that." The five-year-old looked surprised and responded, "But it's good to pray." No, said the teacher, "It's not good." Fox News's Todd Starnes reports that the little girl tried to pray again but was stopped.

When she got home and explained what happened, Marcos and his wife were furious. "My five-year old should not feel conflicted about prayer with respect to trying to follow rules or authority. We remain speechless that our daughter had to experience [that] from an individual with an agenda." They contacted the school, demanding to know why his five-year-old would be accosted for exercising her religious rights. The principal promised to investigate, but when she asked around, no teacher remembered the incident. Either way, she assured the Perezes that she took the matter seriously. "Please know that students are permitted to pray during school. I will remind all staff members of this." A spokesman at Florida's Seminole County Public Schools echoed the policy, which allows prayer as long as it isn't disruptive.

For the Perezes, who were already frustrated over the liberal indoctrination taking place in classrooms around the country, this was the last straw. They pulled their daughter out of public education and have decided to homeschool her. "This definitely pushed us over," Marcos said. "We've long had concerns about Common Core and issues and agendas we see in the culture war."

Unfortunately, liberals have worked long and hard to convince teachers that students have the right to exercise their religion -- just not on school property. But that's not true. In fact, the Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court both say that educators should protect the rights of religious students, so long as they aren't coercive or disruptive. And that includes praying over lunch. For the longest time, the Left pushed for religious neutrality in schools. But over time, that neutrality has turned into outright hostility -- and children are the victims. Of all the ways kids can misbehave these days, scolding them for praying is about as ridiculous as it gets. Judging by the state of our culture (and our schools), they could use more time with God -- not less!

Turning the Tables on Military Religious Freedom

A 200-sqaure foot billboard is tough to miss -- and thank goodness, the Air Force Academy didn't. It seems FRC's message to cadets wasn't lost on Academy officials, who made a point of reaching out to our office Friday morning about the sign. Together with the other members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition, FRC put up a billboard in Colorado Springs with a picture of the faces of Mount Rushmore and the words -- "Air Force Cadets: Are you free to say 'So help me God?' They did."

In the aftermath of another anti-Christian crackdown at the Academy, we wanted -- not just our military men and women -- but those teaching them to understand their rights to express their faith. Apparently, this message didn't fly over the heads of Academy leaders, because a member of the Academy's public affairs office contacted us by email and phone to reassure us that they were trying to strike the right balance of religious liberty on campus. "I am writing," the Academy's Chief of Media Relations said, "regarding your billboard in Colorado Springs asking, 'Air Force Cadets: Are you free to say, So Help Me God?' The answer is 'Yes.'"

Later, that same officer followed up with a personal phone call to our communications office, insisting that the Academy was doing everything it could to abide by the Air Force's policy on religion -- even going to far as to read directly from it. We appreciate the Academy's responsiveness and hope this is a sign (pun intended) of positive changes to come. Thanks to all of you who continue to enlist in FRC's efforts to support our troops and their freedom!

Meanwhile, the officials at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida could stand to have someone read them the policy on religious exercise, because officials certainly aren't enforcing it. Inside the base's dining room, the Missing Man table went missing itself. Why? Because commanders thought the presence of a Bible on the table was too controversial. So, they struck the display -- meant to honor America's Prisoners of War (POW) and those missing in action -- altogether.

After several airmen complained, base officials released a statement, saying, "The 45th Space Wing deeply desires to honor America's POWs and Missing in Action personnel. Unfortunately, the Bible... on the table at the Riverside Dining Facility ignited controversy and division, distracting from the table's primary purpose of honoring POWs/MIAs. Consequently, we temporarily replaced the table with the POW/MIA flag in an effort to show our continued support of these heroes while seeking an acceptable solution to the controversy. After consultation with several relevant organizations, we now intend to re-introduce the POW/MIA table in a manner inclusive of all POWs/MIAs as well as Americans everywhere."

For now, no one is quite certain what the tables, which are fully set with chairs for the missing, will include. As FRC's Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin told Fox News, "I'm still looking for somebody in a leadership position in the Air Force with an ounce of courage. They buckle to an extreme minority group every time and constitutionally they are simply wrong." One of the many people who fired off letters of protest to base commanders was Vietnam War vet Michael Tater, who says he's glad to know the table will be back -- and as for the Bible? "I'll be looking for it," he told local reporters. So will we.

SPLC at an All Times Low

When the FBI dumped SPLC as a website resource, the media was as surprised as the rest of us. For years, they'd documented the tight relationship between the two entities, which in the FBI's case, resulted in a long-term alliance on things like "hate crimes." As word spreads of how radioactive Southern Poverty Law Center has become, the Washington Times's editors are the latest to chime in with a scathing op-ed about the nature of SPLC's "business."

"Something called the Southern Poverty Law Center sounds like a harmless do-good organization of idealistic young lawyers out to make a better life for poor folks in the South, most of them likely black. Who wouldn't want to make life better for poor folk? But looks can be deceiving. The poverty law center, known by its initials SPLC, is actually a money-making scheme -- some have called it a 'scam' -- of an Alabama lawyer who set out years ago to get rich on the backs of the poor and the duped."

Find out what the SPLC is hiding in Times explosive column and why every government agency should follow the FBI's lead in distancing themselves from an organization like SPLC that inspires the hatred it says it polices.

** A big thanks to the tens of thousands of you who made #HobbyLobbyDay such a huge success! The outpouring of support was certainly enough to make the media sit up and take notice! Check out these write-ups from Forbes and Charisma News.

*** "What is U.S. money actually funding at the U.N. and Overseas?" Find out in Arina Grossu's new piece for Townhall.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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