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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reclaiming Our Freedoms One Brick at a Time

Via Montana News and STOPtheACLU

A federal judge has ordered an upstate New York school district to return bricks inscribed with Christian messages to a high school walkway, and a pro-family civil liberties attorney is praising the outcome as a victory against viewpoint discrimination.

The dispute arose after the Mexico Academy High School class of 1999 in Mexico, New York (Oswego County), sold bricks that could be inscribed with personal messages and included in a walkway as a fundraiser. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) complained that certain bricks, particularly those inscribed with the messages “Jesus Saves/John 3:16″ and “Jesus Christ, the only way,” constituted public school endorsement of Christianity.

The ACLU maintained that the bricks violated the so-called “separation of church and state,” and the group’s complaints prompted school officials to remove the contested bricks in 2000. Other bricks purchased by private individuals bore messages that referred to God or to local churches but were allowed to remain in place; only the bricks mentioning Jesus were taken out of the walkway.

Leave it to the ACLU to complain that upholding the first amendment actually violates it. How much more twisted can logic be and still be called logical. Seriously, according to ACLU logic the first amendment violates the first amendment!! The school encouraged people to express themselves individually, and because they did not act to censor Christian expressions, the ACLU concludes they have endorsed it. And then through legal threats the school caved in and censored them! Insanity!

Two community residents who had purchased the extracted bricks filed a lawsuit challenging the school district’s censorship of their messages. In that case, Judge Norman Mordue of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York has now ruled that removal of the bricks bearing the Christian messages was a violation of the free-speech rights of those individuals who paid for them.

Although the District Court initially refused to grant a preliminary injunction to have the bricks reinstalled, it was forced to reconsider the issue when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case for reconsideration. The court’s ultimate ruling orders school officials to restore the bricks inscribed with religious messages to the school walkway.

Pro-family attorney John Whitehead is president of The Rutherford Institute, the civil liberties and human rights defense organization that represented the Christian plaintiffs in the lawsuit, arguing that the school’s censorship violated rights guaranteed to citizens by the First and Fourteenth Amendments as well as by the New York Constitution. He is pleased with the court’s ruling and says it is consistent with the outcomes of many similar suits in which his legal group has been involved.

“We’ve won several of these cases in this area,” Whitehead notes. ” It’s called viewpoint discrimination. You can’t discriminate against the religious viewpoint, and the judge said that’s what happened here. It violates the First Amendment.”

The attorney asserts that officials with the high school, in initiating the walkway fundraiser, created a public forum that allowed for private speech, and apparently the bricks with the Christian messages were initially welcomed. “But when the ACLU threatened a lawsuit,” he says, “they actually removed the bricks, and the judge said that’s viewpoint discrimination. That violates the First Amendment when you have different messages on a sidewalk or in [another public] forum.”

That’s the ACLU for you in all its shining glory; America’s number one religious censor! It is quite shameful that an organization that prides itself as the protector of religious liberty to use legally threaten people to actually violate people’s rights. But that is what the ACLU are best at.

Alan Sears describes the ACLU well in this WND column.

This dramatic erosion of religious liberty is the result of the ACLU’s deliberate, incremental strategy. The group often starts its attacks against cash-strapped organizations or legally unsophisticated governmental agencies. Many times, a forceful letter from a big-firm ACLU lawyer is enough to cause an administrator to restrict the public expression of religion.

Even if the embattled organization is sympathetic to a believer’s plight, officials often determine it isn’t worth the hassle or considerable expense to fight the ACLU in a protracted battle. When people do stand their constitutionally protected ground, the ACLU often finds judges and courts likely to support their leftist legal interpretations. And every successful case serves as a precedent for the next.

The ACLU’s destructive assault on the religious heritage of this nation must be challenged – and vigorously. We as a people must stand our ground to protect our constitutionally guaranteed right to freely practice our religion in public and private.

Support The Rutherford Institute and
The Alliance Defense Fund

Crossposted from STOPtheACLU

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