When the word "God" becomes inappropriate in public schools, America really has ceased to exist.
Consider the story of a first-grade girl in West Marion, North Carolina, who had the word "God" stripped from a poem she wrote and was going to read at her school's Veterans Day assembly earlier this month.
The poem honored her two grandfathers who served during the Vietnam War.
“He prayed to God for peace," she wrote of one of them. "He prayed to God for strength.”
Unfortunately, a parent found out about this, and complained to the school district.
At a McDowell County Board of Education meeting last week, employee Chris Greene said, "We had one parent concerned with the use of the word God in this program. This parent did not want the word God mentioned anywhere in the program. When the demand from this person was heard, the rights of another stopped. It did so by hushing the voice of a six-year-old girl.”
"I believe that this little girl’s rights were violated," Greene continued, "and that those who worked so hard to prepare this program should receive an apology.”
“We need to keep in mind what was our country founded on,” said McDowell County resident Esther Dollarhyde. “It was founded on God and Jesus Christ, and our veterans went out and fought for us so we would have a free country, but if we aren’t allowed to honor them the way that the children want to then America is getting lost.”
School Board member Lynn Greene told McDowell News, "My understanding on the law is a teacher cannot promote any certain religion, but when it comes to students voicing their opinion or expressing themselves in a poem we pretty much have to give some leeway. To me this whole thing is a violation of that child’s rights. Nobody forced her to write the poem, that was her part of the program. She was asked to write a poem about veterans and she did. My personal opinion is that her rights were violated.”
After fully examining the issue during the BOE meeting, President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Paulson stated the school did in fact have the right to remove the word "God" from the child’s poem.
“Courts have consistently held up the rights for students to express themselves unless their speech is disruptive to the school,” stated Paulson according to McDowell News. “When the little girl wrote the poem and included a reference to God she had every right to do that. The First Amendment protects all Americans. She had every right to mention God, (but) that dynamic changed when they asked her to read it at an assembly.”
Paulson said that because the students were a captive audience - they were at a mandatory assembly with no place else to go if they didn't want to attend - administrators had the right to remove the word "God."
“Courts have found that religious references at school-sponsored events generally run afoul of the First Amendment,” said Paulson. "When a public school knows there’s going to be a reference to religion then there is a problem and they have to address it. The reason for these restrictions is to prevent the government from endorsing a specific faith or religion. So public schools have to steer clear of religious references.”
Fox News contacted the parents of the student in question for comment, but they declined.
Todd Starnes reported Thursday that across the community people are alarmed by what happened and are asking questions.
“I am outraged that a school would deny a six year old child her First Amendment rights — especially during an assembly to honor our nation’s veterans,” Trudy Pascoe told Starnes. “It is unacceptable for schools to continue to deny students rights because of their Christian viewpoint.”
Scott Hagaman, senior pastor of Marion’s First Baptist Church, told Starnes, "I don’t think there’s anywhere in the country where you can hide from these issues — with the culture changing so quickly,”
Sad but true.