Just last week, we posted a message titled, “It’s Time to Say, “Enough!” Now, we have yet another troubling example of the anti-faith voices in this Country attempting to force their value system into a local community where there was no public outcry seeking it in the first place. This particular instance involves the Louisiana ACLU office sounding off on what amounts to an often used false alarm—the broken record of tired and inaccurately applied arguments about the supposed “wall of separation” between church and state.
Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School principal, Albert Hardison, recently came under direct fire because he shared a Scripture and asked parents—in a letter and on the school’s website—to pray for God to give students strength, mental fortitude, patience and wisdom as they prepared for state mandated testing. Walnut Hill is part of the Caddo Parish School District in Keithville, Louisiana, and Hardison is a longtime and deeply respected educator and administrator. The community is taking a bold stand by organizing rallies to support Hardison.
The ACLU is up in arms after saying Hardison made religious references and accused him of, “engaging in a pattern of religious proselytization.” Executive Director of the Louisiana ACLU, Marjorie Esman, said, “No school employee may tell a student what religion to practice or even to practice religion at all.” Any reasonable discussion of this case would conclude that no one’s constitutional rights were violated. Furthermore, the school, through Hardison’s actions, did not in fact, “establish” a specific religion for Walnut Hill, nor were students compelled to adhere to only one faith practice. Neither was there a “requirement” regarding religious practice in any sense of the word.
The ACLU argument is hollow and parents are rallying in strong numbers to show their avid support for Hardison and religious liberty. We must not allow the ongoing misapplication of the historical narrative when it comes to matters such as this. A principal suggesting students and their families may find prayer helpful during a time of challenge is not turning a school into faith-based institution—no more so than the President of the United States, quoting a Scripture and calling for prayer at a time of national disaster, is suggesting the nation adhere to one and only one faith. What this is called, is the exercise of free speech! Denying that opportunity is the true violation of our guaranteed constitutional rights.
We want to encourage all of us to both prayer and action. We need to strengthen one another and let our collective voices be heard within the marketplace. If the only messages filling the vacuum in the national conversation are those that seek to restrict our religious liberties, intimidate the opposition into silence through public scorn and distort our heritage with a deceptive rhetoric, then we must be prepared to accept the consequences. Certainly, these actions all require time, effort and initiative, but unless we are ready to stand united with fellow citizens who also care about religious freedom, we may find the next attack crossing the threshold of our own community, school, church, business organization or neighborhood.
Will we rally to the cause? Will we lift this before God’s throne? Will we support Principal Hardison, contact the Caddo Parish School District or local newspapers? Will we spread the word through our own social media outlets? I write today because I already know the answers to these questions—they are a resounding, “YES!”