“G– Bless America.”
After being threatened by an atheist group, a Florida high school has banned students from saying “God bless America” over the intercom, according to an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
A student at Yulee High School said “God bless America, keep us safe” at the end of the school announcements last week. Two offended atheist students reached out to the American Humanist Association, an activist atheist group. AHA sent a lengthy email Monday demanding the school not say “God bless America” again.
That student was called into the principal’s office, and now the phrase is banned in morning announcements.
According to an email provided by AHA, Yulee High School Principal Natasha Drake replied to AHA’s complaint the same day.
“I want to point out that the statement “God Bless America, keep us safe” that was made last week on the morning announcements was not approved by school administration nor was it in the scripted announcements,” she said in the email. “The student on his own accord made the statement. I have called the student in this morning and directed him that at no time is he to add or take away from announcements that have been pre-approved and that if he did it again, he would no longer have the privilege of making the morning announcements.”
David Niose legal director at AHA, said the phrase violated the Constitution because the school was endorsing religion and discriminating against atheist students. He told TheDCNF his group was willing to sue if the school did not comply with their request.
“We certainly have some students who are very concerned about the school taking that kind of position so [suing] was certainly a possibility,” he told TheDCNF. “It’s such an obvious violation that it would have been very surprising if the school was defiant on the issue.”
It turns out Yulee High is a magnet for controversy, which might be why they rolled over so easily when AHA sent the letter. The school fell into trouble in 2009 when the ACLU sued the school on behalf of two students who wanted to start a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus.
School officials did not respond to requests for comment.
AHA has been in multiple battles across the country to keep God out of school. The group just lost a lawsuit in New Jersey where they tried to ban the phrase “Under God” from the pledge of allegiance.
Here’s Drake’s full email, as provided by AHA:
Dear Ms. Miller,
Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I want to point out that the statement “God Bless America, keep us safe” that was made last week on the morning announcements was not approved by school Administration nor was it in the scripted announcements. The student on his own accord made the statement. I have called the student in this morning and directed him that at no time is he to add or take away from announcements that have been pre-approved and that if he did it again, he would no longer have the privilege of making the morning announcements. I am disappointed that the students who filed the complaint did not do so with me first, as I would have addressed it immediately. Once again, thank you for bringing this concern to my attention. It is our desire and intention to respect the beliefs and constitutional freedoms of all our students at Yulee High School.
Yulee High School
85375 Miner Road
Yulee, FL 32097
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