Greenwood High school faces a lawsuit over a prayer that will be delivered in its 2010 graduation ceremony. Although a majority of the high school seniors voted in favor of having the prayer, senior Eric Workman filed a lawsuit against the high school with the help of the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).">
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Stomping on the First Amendment
Perspective on the News
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Rebecca Droeger - Omega Letter Exclusive

On March 12th, a story broke in Indianapolis that local Greenwood High school faces a lawsuit over a prayer that will be delivered in its 2010 graduation ceremony.  Although a majority of the high school seniors voted in favor of having the prayer, senior Eric Workman filed a lawsuit against the high school with the help of the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

As far back as I can remember, every time the First Amendment was referenced, emphasis was always placed on the first portion of the Amendment:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”.  This portion of the First Amendment was always taught in each school I attended, or in reference to placing emphasis on how the Founding Fathers sought to avoid establishing a State Church. 

However, the second portion of the Amendment, which is equally important, is often ignored.  Read all together, it states:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The ACLU often uses the first section of the First Amendment in lawsuits aimed at “protecting” American citizens from having a religion enforced upon them.  Apparently, the US Supreme Court agrees with the ACLU as evidenced by their rulings in 2000 & 2008 that a public school cannot deliver prayers over the public address system or offer prayers at graduation.

The ACLU and lawmakers fail to realize they are trampling over the second part of the same sentence they are ruling upon which states congress shall make no law “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.  In essence, by claiming that the prayers are violating someone’s right in recognition of an established religion, the ACLU and lawmakers are preventing those saying the prayers from exercising their religion freely.

Those in favor of the ACLU and Supreme Court’s decision may argue that their respective rulings were based on affording American citizens equal rights and promoting the image of an all-inclusive America; an America where no religion is promoted above another.  Although, upon closer examination of the First Amendment, by not allowing the Greenwood high school students to pray would infringe on their right to freely exercise their religion.

If Greenwood High School administrators allow the students to conduct the prayer, Eric Workman has the option to not participate in the prayer.  He could sit in silence, pray to whatever deity he believes, put his earphones in, text someone; but he does not have to participate in the prayer.  On the other hand, if the lawsuit prevents the students from praying, then the students, by definition, have been denied the ability to exercise their religion.  It takes away the “freedom” clause altogether.

Most likely, as in the majority of these lawsuits, the school administrators will cave so that they do not have to pay enormous lawyer fees to defend themselves.  With the economy in its current state, Greenwood High School will most likely not have the funds to fight the suit.  If Greenwood is experiencing the same types of budget cuts in their school system as other systems within their county, they will most likely have to close schools as well.  So, Greenwood will probably settle out-of-court and force the students to abstain from the prayer.

It would be so beautiful if the private citizens in the county worked to fund its own lawsuit to fight to have the prayer in the graduation ceremony.  After all, the Greenwood High School seniors voted in support of the inclusion of the prayer; so it is reflective of the wishes of majority.  Sadly, I doubt that the citizens would deem the right to pray as important as securing an actual school to pray in.

The one bright spot in this whole debacle can be reflected in the Greenwood High School seniors’ initial vote to have the prayer.  With a generation associated with a “me-first” attitude, it is refreshing to see that some still consider prayer important enough to be said at a graduation ceremony.

Editor's Note: We are pleased to introduce Rebecca Droeger as the Omega Letter's newest columnist. Her exclusive columns will appear in this spot on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Becky works as an accountant and office manager for DiscipleData, Inc. serving non-profit, faith-based organizations.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, with an Associates in Accounting.  She has also studied Religion and Bible Prophecy for the last 18 years.

Becky was first introduced to Jesus at an early age when her mother would read the Bible to her every night.  Her mother and grandmother were great sources of reinforcement within the Word.

At age 17, Becky’s mother introduced her to “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey.  Before that time, Becky wasn’t much of a reader.  After she read Hal’s book, she became fascinated with Bible Prophecy and read every book by Hal Lindsey she could find.  While Becky always believed in Christ, she became even closer to Him during this time-frame because she grew to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible.

Through Hal Lindsey’s website, Becky became acquainted with the Omega Letter.  She really enjoyed seeing Jacks’ daily briefings and decided she wanted to become a full-time member in 2007.  Being a full-time member of the Omega Letter Fellowship allowed her to meet wonderful Christians with phenomenal insight and a yearning for a personal relationship with God.  As a part of the Omega Letter, Becky became part of a close, Christ-centered family that reaches across the world.

In her spare time, Becky likes to be with her husband and daughter, spend time with her family, play games, watch movies, play volleyball and go for family walks.  She also likes swimming, biking, hiking, praying,  reading the Bible along with Bible prophecy and biographies, and participating in the Omega Letter forums.  Becky’s greatest love is her Savior, Jesus Christ; and she is grateful for all the Blessings He has given to her.

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