Hundreds Attend Rally in Support of Principal Under Fire for Citing Scripture in Newsletter

RallySHREVEPORT, La. — Hundreds attended a prayer rally on Friday in support of a Louisiana elementary and middle school principal who is under fire from the ACLU for quoting a Scripture in a recent newsletter sent to parents and posted on the district website.

Albert Hardison is the principal of Walnut Hill Elementary-Middle School, and has been at the school for many years. Recently, Hardison sent out a newsletter that cited and quoted from Philippians 4:13, asking that prayers be sent up for students to excel on their exams.

“As our students prepare to take the state mandated tests, LEAP, iLEAP and PARCC, please pray that our God will give them the strength and mental fortitude, the patience, the wisdom, and the energy to do their best,” it read. “Please help our children understand the meaning of Philippians 4:13 … I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

But an unidentified resident who does not have a child that attends Walnut Hill complained to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about the matter. The organization in turn wrote an open letter on Tuesday to Caddo Schools Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree, asserting that Hardison’s actions were unconstitutional.

“[Hardison] has engaged in a pattern of religious proselytization by sending messages to parents invoking prayer, and through a lengthy ‘Principal’s Message’ on the school’s website,” ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman wrote. “This unlawful religious coercion is improper from any school employee but it is particularly egregious coming from the school principal, whose job is to teach and uphold, rather than violate, the legal rights of all.”

Caddo Parish Public Schools soon announced that it was conducting an investigation and had removed Hardison’s comments while officials look into the complaint.

“In this instance, questionable materials subsequently have been removed from district webpages while the investigation continues,” a statement from the district explained. “If there is a violation, we will make certain we act swiftly to ensure we do not have any further violations.”

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But parents and teachers soon rose up after hearing about the ACLU’s stance against Hardison. The Facebook page “Support Albert Hardison” was launched on Tuesday and quickly generated thousands of likes. As of press time, five days after its launch, the page has over 7,600 likes.

“Mr. Hardison at Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School is being attacked by someone who has no affiliation with the school!” the page reads. “We as parents must come together.”

Parent Penny Cardino said that it is the students who approach Hardison and request prayer.

“They go up to Mr. Hardison, ‘I’m having a bad day. Would you pray with me, please?'” she explained.

Hardison
Hardison

A rally was also organized for Friday at the Grawood Baptist Church in Keithville, an event which drew hundreds in support of the principal. Some held signs such as “#ourchildrenpray” and “Support Mr. Hardison.”

Jimmy Clark of Sycamore Life Ministries addressed the large crowd.

“Mr. Hardison loved everybody. There’s not a child that he didn’t touch. There’s not a child that he didn’t say ‘I love you.’ There’s not a parent that he didn’t say ‘I love you,'” he said.

Clark warned parents that there is a concerted effort to secularize schools.

“No matter what happens; no matter if anything happens ,” he said, “[T]he Word of God says every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess. There will come a day when those folks will stand in front of Jesus Christ and they will have to answer for everything they say.”

Hardison did not attend the event as he wanted the gathering to focus on Christ and not himself, but his son Kelvin and daughter-in-law Tera were among those who spoke.

“It took me by shock that someone would be so upset by someone praying for their children,” Tera Hardison said, according to the Shreveport Times.

“I am beyond touched,” Kelvin Hardison commented on the outpouring of support for his father. “Hopefully we accomplish something out here today and let everyone know that Jesus is alive and He is real. Thank you for supporting my father and my family.”

According to local television station KPTV, local businesses are also expressing their support for Hardison. Time-It Lube, with two locations in the Shreveport area, posted on both of its signs “Thanks Albert Hardison. May God bless you.” Summer Grove AutoCare also posted “God bless Mr. Hardison!” on its business sign.

Main Photo: Support Albert Hardison Facebook page


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  • bowie1

    It seems citing scripture is the “pornography” of today by the complainant. It is obvious this is all part of an atheist conspiracy to infiltrate all the schools with their own godless philosophies and oust any competing worldview – to implement a secular dictatorship.

    • Bill

      nope, they just want people to follow the Constitution. including separation of church and state

      • bowie1

        The state does not support the spread of secularism either, so that also violates the separation of church and state because it proselytizes its own brand of dogma.

        • Bill

          secularism isn’t a religion it’s the state all societies should aim for.

          • KenS

            The Supreme Court of the US, disagrees with you, they ruled that secularism was a religion

          • Bill

            Wrong. Torcaso v. Watkins was about reaffirmed that the United States Constitution prohibits States and the Federal Government from requiring any kind of religious test for public office same with American Humanist Association v. United States

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torcaso_v._Watkins

          • KenS

            read more, especially on the second one, the prisoner wanted secular humanism to be recognized as a religion in order to have meetings held and the court ruled that it was a religion in his favor.

          • Bill

            that’s secular humanism not secularism.

  • nomorepropagandaaboutabuse

    American’s worshiping a foreign potentate….sad

  • Psygn

    “Clark warned parents that there is a concerted effort to secularize schools.”

    Public schools are secular.

    • Oboehner

      Secular Humanism is a religion.

      • Psygn

        Good for you.

        • Oboehner

          Aren’t you whining about religion in government schools?

          • Psygn

            sec·u·lar
            ˈsekyələr/
            adjective
            adjective: secular
            1.
            denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.

          • Rebus Caneebus

            Oboehner is confused by words that look similar.

          • imyerhuckleberry

            The word grouping was Secular humanism

            1. refers to a branch of humanism that is based on exclusively secular
            principles. It is often associated with atheism and agnosticism,
            however, it should be noted that not all atheists and agnostics identify
            as secular humanists.

            Today we have Secular humanist increasingly supports the Islamists’ position in the battle against the Judeo-Christian worldview. Secular humanists currently dominate the government, education, the media, and the legal institutions in the United States.

          • Psygn

            =”Secular humanists currently dominate the government,”=

            So secular humanist are also Christians?

          • imyerhuckleberry

            Do you actually know what the word “Dominate” means?
            It means that group is in control over those institution I listed and the very reason they are failing.
            So stop acting petulant and asking stupid questions.

          • Oboehner

            Secular humanism; especially : humanistic philosophy viewed as a nontheistic RELIGION antagonistic to traditional religion
            — secular humanist noun or adjective

          • Psygn

            You are free to preach your secular humanism after school.
            Just like everybody else.

          • imyerhuckleberry

            Are you really this stupid?

          • Oboehner

            Unfortunately it’s in school.

        • imyerhuckleberry

          It was very relevant, it just goes against your Statist mindset.

      • MisterPine

        Oboehner, you were also caught trying to claim that evolution is a “religion” too.

        • Oboehner

          They work hand in hand.

          • MisterPine

            Of course they do.

    • Eponymous1

      Militantly so. They seem intent on stamping out even passing references from other faiths. Progressive secularism is a jealous god, you shall have no gods before, beside, or beneath it.

      • Psygn

        Where can I get a copy of this secular humanist holy book?

        • Eponymous1

          I only feel threatened by the people who want to impose THEIR “personal philosophies” with lawsuits, firings, harassment, threats, and other efforts at destroying the livelihoods of people like me. Like, say, the guy in the very article we’re commenting on.

          I suppose you support his firing?

          • Psygn

            Why do you believe you and this guy are above the law?
            Why should he get special treatment while I do not?

          • Eponymous1

            Does the First Amendment no longer apply now? Is the law that expressing wrong opinions gets you fired? Because that is the only “law” I see being applied to this gentleman. He wrote a book that contained a few sentences expressing a view that a powerful but vocal minority didn’t want to hear. For that he was fired.

            What law covers that?

          • Psygn

            I don’t know all the specifics, perhaps you should consult a lawyer
            or you could simply continue to complain about it as opposed to educating yourself.

          • Eponymous1

            So… you got nuthin’. You just know what you don’t like.

          • Psygn

            You gave a vague description, not a legal argument.

          • Eponymous1

            Yeah. Cuz, see… we’re not in a court of law here. This is a comment board. But the First Amendment is pretty clear, and so are the facts of this incident. A single quote of scripture is enough to send a hatetheist (with no kids in the school) into paroxysms of intolerance and sic the government on the administrator.

          • Psygn

            Apparently the issue has been dealt with and resolved by the parties involved. I’m sure he has the right to appeal any decision he disagrees with.

  • redeemed357

    Is it possible the ACLU is unaware—as long as there are tests—there WILL BE PRAYER in school. LOL THEY ARE MORONS.

    • Bill

      and prayer is allowed so long as officials aren’t leading it.

  • LIFE – A Gift Divine

    Jimmy Clark of Sycamore Life Ministries addressed the large crowd.

    “Mr. Hardison loved everybody. There’s not a child that he didn’t
    touch. There’s not a child that he didn’t say ‘I love you.’ There’s not a
    parent that he didn’t say ‘I love you,’” he said.

    It’s time that all people that are believers stand up for the word of God. Not only stand up but to be a resounding voice against people that are spiteful and want to disrupt anything and everything in the name of the “law”. That is why it is paramount that we stand together, elect officials that will stop this kind of blatant propaganda limiting religious freedoms in every walk of life. Mr. Clark demonstrated the character of Mr. Hardison, and there comes a point where love is the most effective way to teach our children, and provide moral ethics without hurting anyone. People are always talking about discrimination, but this to me is clearly discrimination against the freedom of speech. Does our freedom of speech apply to public places? It better or we all are in trouble.

    • Paul Hiett

      “Freedom of speech” does not apply in a public school when preaching religion.

      • LIFE – A Gift Divine

        Why is that? Where do you find information that would stop free speech on any topic? It’s ok to use freedom of speech such as movies that present violence (that could go along way). Freedom of speech should apply in any situation, and I’m not sure why this has not been brought up. Religious freedom and free speech should not be separate situations, just like an atheist has freedom of speech in a public school if they like. What’s the difference?

        • Rebus Caneebus

          Where do you find information that would stop free speech on any topic?

          When they are government employees acting in their official capacity, such as public school officials. In that case, they are restricted by the first amendment’s “no establishment” clause.

          • LIFE – A Gift Divine

            But that simply does not happen. A prime example is senator Rand’s statement. He states there needs to be a revival. He is speaking from a Christian perspective. That is a public example of what I’m speaking about.

          • Paul Hiett

            Simply put, a school administrator may not use the school as a launching pad for his evangelizing. He may not use the PA system to preach his religion…or any religion.

            Free speech does not apply in this case.

          • LIFE – A Gift Divine

            And yet it is happening. It also happened when I was a kid. They prayed in public schools over the intercom before classes began every day. You’re too young to remember that, but it’s the truth. So why would that be changed? We never felt it was a launching pad for preaching. It was usually in the form of a prayer from a student before announcements. Nobody complained about it then, because frankly it was beneficial. Some of us believe that God needs to be a part of our schools again, based on the difference in the health of public schools today having to battle against minor issues every time they do something. I remember a young man that at graduation was valedictorian who was warned not to say anything about religion and he stood up and started a prayer. All of the students and parents stood up with applause, while the administration set there looking uncomfortable. That is what I’m talking about. Our children standing up for what is RIGHT.

          • Paul Hiett

            I’m 44, and attending elementary school in both Texas and Oklahoma. I assure you, I remember it well. That doesn’t make it right though.

            Keep in mind, also, that what you think is “right” is only your opinion, and others in this country…US Citizens…have their beliefs as well. You don’t get to prop up your beliefs as law in this country; nor does anyone else for that matter.

            This is why we have separation of church and state. We are not a theocracy.

          • LIFE – A Gift Divine

            It isn’t a theocracy to state what Paul Rand stated. It’s an inevitable truth. Listen to what he said.

          • Paul Hiett

            But your religion is not mine. My choice is not yours, or theirs…their choice is not yours, and your choice is not theirs. Who gets to decide?

            The answer…no one. This is why religion has no place in our public schools and government.

            I would assume you wouldn’t tolerate sharia law in this country, so why should your choice of a religion be ok?

          • LIFE – A Gift Divine

            I would like very much for you to read the statements of early candidates. Who knows who is going to win, but look at the comments about their religious beliefs. I’ve been stating it will be a big issue come election time. Some don’t accept that, but when you read what they are saying, there is circumstantial evidence to suggest Religion will be a big consideration in the next election. Rand Paul, Cruz, Huckabee, the black neurosurgeon, (can’t remember his name) have already started talking about those things. I’ll be monitoring all the candidates as they progress and will update you on comments they are making. As for your question, the voters will decide.

          • Paul Hiett

            You do understand that one’s religion is merely a geographical accident?

          • StarkStealthArmor

            Certainly the location of where people live has an influence on people and their beliefs. I don’t consider it an accident. For instance, were you raised as an atheist? When you look at scientist’s as an example, you will see the percentage of scientists that believe in God, based on their location, age, marriage, and position. Some 40% of scientists believe in God in some form and/or spirituality. I don’t see how that is relevant to God’s existence. Within the same geology such as Egypt, you have Christian faith and Islamic faith. They live together in the same locations. There are many other examples but that one stands out.

          • KenS

            Ben Carson is the neurosurgeon you are thinking of.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            Thank you I appreciate your comment.

          • Eponymous1

            Your answer is not pluralism. When you say “religion has no place in our public schools and government,” you mean that no private citizen can allude to or act on their faith in any public venue — i.e. check your beliefs at the door. That’s not the first amendment, that’s compulsory secularism. Pluralism would allow you your say, and me mine, not stamp out one view for the sake of another.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            That is an amazing response. I agree with you completely.

          • Eponymous1

            Thanks, sir or madam!

          • StarkStealthArmor

            I’m a sir, a Christian. I’m 58 years old and think you’re very intelligent. I have a feeling you’re a young man that does his homework. That is a great trait!! Keep up the good work

          • Eponymous1

            Thanks. It’s not so much that I’m smart as that I’ve seen all these arguments before — repeated endlessly. It’s no accident when they’re all singing from the same song sheet.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            I’ve seen the same.!!!

          • StarkStealthArmor

            Welcome to CNS. I think your comments are something that needs to be heard. I appreciate what your saying. God bless you!

          • Paul

            It is most definitely an abridgement of free speech and free association as well if done by an agent of the government or enforced by law. Since Public school has become an entirely private enterprise of government, it could be argued that the policies controlling his speech and the authority to fire him were a result of Congress making a law where they are limited to making NO Law.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            I also appreciate very much your comments Paul. Your astute as well.

          • Paul

            Thank you. Its always nice to get a hat-tip. Back atcha.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            Thank you sir, for being kind in your approach to people, and yet firm in your beliefs and opinion. You too are a refreshing welcome to CNS.

          • Paul

            Well, I wouldn’t want to fly a false flag. I am not particularly religious, I respond to civilization and the Constitution when it is challenged. This issue means I stand with you in this instance. I don’t see how a person with integrity could do any less.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            That is fine, I appreciate your views.

          • LIFE – A Gift Divine

            Here is the opinion of Paul, and I stand by him:

            WASHINGTON – During a private prayer breakfast for pastors on Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told those gathered that the Constitution never meant that God must be removed from government, but that the government was not to interfere with the practice of religion.

            “The First Amendment says keep government out of religion. It doesn’t say keep religion out of government,” Paul told the approximately 50 persons gathered at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington D.C.. “So, you do have a role and a place here.”

            “I open the Senate each Wednesday morning, and we open it every day with a prayer,” he noted. “You have prayer in government. Religion is part of our daily life and a part of our government; it always has been.”

            According to CBN News, which recorded Paul’s comments during the breakfast, the event had been organized to present his views on faith, religious freedom and the role the Church plays in the government.

            During his talk, the Kentucky Senator told pastors not to look to Washington to solve all of the nation’s problems, but that change needs to happen from a grassroots gospel effort.

            “The moral crisis we have in our country—there is a role in trying to figure out things like marriage,” Paul said. “There’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage. So really there’s a role outside and inside government.”

            “I think the exhortation to change people’s thoughts has to come from the countryside—from everywhere outside of Washington,” he continued. “We’re the most disconnected city on the planet from the people, so don’t have a lot of faith in what’s going on up here.”
            Paul then reiterated statements he has made in the past, remarking that a spiritual awakening is needed in America.

            “I’ve said this before: We need a revival in the country,” Paul added Thursday. “We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, ‘Reform, or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.’”

            As previously reported, throughout America’s early history, a number of the Founding Fathers issued proclamations calling inhabitants to prayer, including in 1798, when President John Adams proclaimed a national day of humiliation, prayer and fasting.

            “As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him,” he wrote, “…this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty and of danger, when existing or threatening calamities—the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity—are a loud call to repentance and reformation.”

            “[L]et us not forget the religious character of our origin,” American statesman Daniel Webster also declared during his famous “Plymouth Oration” in 1820, less than 50 years after the nation’s founding. “Our fathers were brought hither for their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political or literary.”

          • Rebus Caneebus

            But that simply does not happen.

            That’s happening in this case.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            Could you please explain what you mean. Thank you.

          • Rebus Caneebus

            Your statement “But that simply does not happen” appears to be in reply to my statement, “When they are government employees acting in their official capacity, such as public school officials”, which was an answer to your question “Where do you find information that would stop free speech on any topic?”

            Government officials, when acting in their official capacity, are restricted by the first amendment’s “no establishment” clause. This is why public school teachers, for example, can’t teach their pupils that Christianity is true (or Islam, or Judaism, or atheism, etc) — doing that would be in violation of the no establishment clause, even though the teacher has the right to free speech.

            This principal’s situation is similar — he can’t use the school’s website to promote his religion, because in that particular case, he is restrained by the no establishment clause. If he has his own private webpage, he can promote his religion on that — it doesn’t have the legal limitations that a public school website has.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            Ok now I understand what your saying. Now the question is, when the Freedom of Religion Restoration Act happened, and groups are now formed in Public schools for the purpose of bringing students together in a forum to study together, is that a restraint? Or if a student says something about God when designing the school paper (activities etc.) is that against the law? Another example and question: The Texas public school board passed a referendum to include “Intelligent design” principles into their text books. The class is an elective, and is taught as an either/and/or to evolution classes. Does that fall under any clause that is against the law that you would know of?

          • Rebus Caneebus

            Now the question is, when the Freedom of Religion Restoration Act happened, and groups are now formed in Public schools for the purpose of bringing students together in a forum to study together, is that a restraint?

            Students can form groups in schools (assuming the school allows that; they can, if they want, not allow any student groups).

            Or if a student says something about God when designing the school paper (activities etc.) is that against the law?

            I don’t know what you’re asking here. Are they literally saying something (out loud)? Are they publishing an opinion? Do all students get the same access?

            Another example and question: The Texas public school board passed a referendum to include “Intelligent design” principles into their text books. The class is an elective, and is taught as an either/and/or to evolution classes. Does that fall under any clause that is against the law that you would know of?

            Yes, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), which held that intelligent design was just religion in disguise. Teaching “intelligent design” is not teaching science, nor would it be an acceptable substitute for teaching evolution.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            “I don’t know what you’re asking here. Are they literally saying something (out loud)? Are they publishing an opinion? Do all students get the same access?”
            __________________________________________________
            What I was asking is, when students put together, say a newsletter, or even their yearbooks, (because I’ve seen this) and mention either God, or a prayer, or a quote from the Bible, do you personally see that as being wrong? I do not, so I’m asking for your opinion on such.

            ___________________________________________________
            That particular decision held in 2005 has changed considerably as the district was trying to mandate Intelligent Design in public schools. Since that time, the Texas is an example of making it an elective. The student can choose. Since much more scientific evidence has pointed toward the ID evidence, more schools such as South Carolina, has instituted guidelines to tell teachers that Evolution should be emphasized as a Theory. That is primarily because there are now challenges to the original model that Darwin proposed even by recognized biologists. The winds of change are certainly happening.

            Yes, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), which held that intelligent design was just religion in disguise. Teaching “intelligent design” is not teaching science, nor would it be an acceptable substitute for teaching evolution.

          • Rebus Caneebus

            What I was asking is, when students put together, say a newsletter, or even their yearbooks, (because I’ve seen this) and mention either God, or a prayer, or a quote from the Bible, do you personally see that as being wrong?

            No.

            That particular decision held in 2005 has changed considerably as the district was trying to mandate Intelligent Design in public schools.

            Kitzmiller found that teaching ID is teaching religion. That hasn’t changed.

            Since much more scientific evidence has pointed toward the ID evidence

            The National Academy of Sciences disagrees with you.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            The National Academy of Sciences disagrees with you.

            There are those that don’t. All equally qualified to present themselves. An example:

            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUMhP2x7_7psVO-H4MJFpAQ

          • Rebus Caneebus

            There are cranks in every field.

          • StarkStealthArmor

            LOL, I suppose so. However some cranks are intelligently designed cranks, (a joke)

          • StarkStealthArmor

            By the way I want to thank you for you’re civil responses. We may not agree, but you certainly are intelligent, and I can appreciate that.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    The freedom of the Western Civilization thus of the entire world was won for the access to the Holy Bible. The secular West must not undo it this century from its inclination to sinful immorality.

    • Paul Hiett

      I’m sure the native Americans here were all joyous when we brought the good book to them.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Yes, they were. Every Earthling including the Europeans was made civilized by Christianity. If you are truly sorry for the native Americans, move out of America and never return so that they can have the land back. Hypocrites.

        • Psygn

          As a Native American, why would you want me to leave?

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Sorry I didn’t know you were Native American. Are you a pure breed? Remember countless many white colonists were killed, too, not just your people. Every human is a sinner. Stop listening to the lying liberals and read the Holy Bible and get saved. Kesus loves you and died for you so that your sins can be forgiven by having faith in Him. I’m Asian woman and I’m happy the whites gave us the life-saving Holy Bible and Christianity and educated my barbaric fellow countrymen to behave towards women. We had been treated like cattle by local men for centuries.

          • Psygn

            I’m part Native American and I’m sorry you hate liberals but I’m glad you appreciate the value of education.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Then you are an assimilated person. The entire Earthlings fight over the land all the time everywhere. Let’s just study and work hard. The white Christians made nations which are best to live for any Earthling. The liberals are mere parasites; if they don’t like the historic colonists, they should leave the USA.

          • Psygn

            Maybe you should just have us killed off.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Please stop having the victim mentality and stop killing the unborn babies. Every race had hardships on Earth. Christianity provides you truth, hope, and life. Get a life by repentance. You need to repent to get saved. Jesus loves us all sinners. Please don’t give up. Get a copy of the Holy Bible, start reading the Gospels( the first 4 books in the New Testament Bible), and visit a near-by Christian church and get help.

          • Psygn

            I’m not interested in joining your hate group, but thanks anyway.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You are the one who should stop hating the Christians. You need to believe in Jesus to be saved.

          • http://www.peterblaise.com/ peterblaise

            .
            “… ARE YOU PURE BRED? …”?!?

            How does such a question even get into someone’s head?

            Is there no racist white supramacist bigot fiter on the Internet yet?

            Aaaaaaaa — save us all from such hateful nonsense!
            .

  • thoughtsfromflorida

    Hundreds? Oh my. Well at a population of over 200,000, there’s no denying such a huge level of support as that.

    • Paul Hiett

      Too bad they didn’t interview any of the non-Christians that attend that school and ask their opinion.

  • Doug Indeap

    Those rallying to support Principal Hardison largely miss the point. It’s not really about him.

    It is important to distinguish between “individual” and “government” speech about religion since the First Amendment protects the former and constrains the latter. As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school principals instructing students and their parents about school programs), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment’s constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government in any particular circumstance may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

    Here, it is an easy call. The principal, acting as an agent of the public (i.e., government) school, published a school newsletter quoting religious tracts and calling for religious support of school activities. Plainly over the line.

    Curious that some direct their ire at those who seek to uphold the Constitution, rather than those flouting it. Better that they hold a rally to use Principal Hardison’s misstep as a teachable moment.

    • RaymondNicholas

      Since the 1960s secular humanists have used the Constitution as their excuse for removing traditional values of God, Family, and Country from the public schools. No longer is it freedom of religion, but freedom from religion. That is very wrong. The principal was not teaching s specific religion, he was giving a message of hope and good luck based on his personal religious beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. Repression of free thought in the public schools is a kind of tyranny, imposing the will of some on the will of others. The result is a track record of decline in US public schools over the past 50 years, a well documented ranking at or near the bottom of most international indicators. Secular humanism always leads to dystopia, the opposite of what was intended.

      • Doug Indeap

        You speak of the principal acting merely as an individual, rather than an agent of the government. Failing to distinguish individual and government speech about religion only makes a hash of the Constitution’s religion clauses.

        • RaymondNicholas

          The principal was not forcing, establishing, or promoting a religion on anyone, just expressing his personal beliefs. Employment should not matter. When government denies freedom of speech it is called tyranny. Besides, you cannot give the slightest proof that a single person was harmed with his encouraging words. We have seen government in action recently and over many years denying religious points of view for absolutely no reason, other than to prevent harm against nonexistent, hypothetical events. If harm was caused, there would be reason to be cautious. It just does not exist.

          • Doug Indeap

            The principal may express his “personal” beliefs when he is acting as an individual on his own time. When acting as an agent of the government in the course of performing his official duties, he speaks for the government, not for himself. So, the quotation of scripture and such in the school newsletter was by the government, not by some guy named Hardison.

            As for whether anyone was “harmed,” it shouldn’t matter. We’re not talking about the freedom of individuals to say or do something others find offensive; each of us has that freedom, and none of us has a right not to be offended. We’re talking about the government weighing in to promote religion. Under our Constitution, our government has no business doing that–REGARDLESS of whether anyone is offended or harmed. While this is primarily a constitutional point, it is one that conservatives–small government conservatives–should appreciate from a political standpoint as well.

            While the First Amendment thus constrains government from promoting (or opposing) religion without regard to whether anyone is offended, a court may address the issue only in a suit by someone with “standing” (sufficient personal stake in a matter) to bring suit; in order to show such standing, a litigant may allege he is offended or otherwise harmed by the government’s failure to follow the law; the question whether someone has standing to sue is different than the question whether the government has violated the Constitution.

          • RaymondNicholas

            A teacher is not simply an agent of the government simply because he or she works in a government facility, just as a doctor is not an agent if he or she works is a VA facility. Their primary goal is it to teach or take care of sick people, not to advance a government ideology. It is not the same as acting as an agent in a private enterprise. As evidenced by the hundreds in the rally, they also side with me. There is no absolute “right” of government to dictate freedom of speech because they cut the paycheck, even if it is legal. In addition, “harm” is a fundamental moral factor in law, medicine, and society. Where no harm is created, a claim or suit will likely fail; a cause will likely fail. Thus, it is an essential component in advancing any position, legal or otherwise. Why should it not be the same in education? The laws of this country at one time were based on morality and rational intellect, not the forced demands of one group imposing their will on another group. Perhaps it is time for full freedom of choice in education, just as the left wants their full freedom to dismember and kill the preborn up to partial birth?

          • Doug Indeap

            Wake Forest University has published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere. It covers the distinction between individual and government speech about religion. I commend it to you. http://divinity.wfu.edu/uploads/2011/09/divinity-law-statement.pdf

          • RaymondNicholas

            And to you I recommend that you read, among other things, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Lincoln’s GA, the Declaration of Independence, and also watch “Inherit the Wind.” You may learn something about the underpinnings of morality and virtue in Christianity, that is, how Christianity shaped this country for the better; whereas the secular humanists of the late 19th century and 20th century have made vice a virtue, divided this country into hate groups of all kinds, and turned Christians of all stripes into weaklings and cowards, afraid to stand up for their beliefs in the public arena. Maybe also read “Brave New World;” seems you have no problem where this country is heading.

          • RaymondNicholas
          • Doug Indeap

            I’ve read all that you recommend–except “Inherit the Wind,” never heard of it. And I have not the slightest interest in engaging in a debate with you about the relative strengths and weaknesses of Christianity vs. secular humanism–or Buddhism or Islam or pastafarianism, etc. The constitutional separation of church and state does not rest–not in the least–on some assertion about the virtue of this versus that religion. I have no doubt that you hold your own religion in the highest regard. Happy as I am for you, in this context that matters not one wit to me–which is no more, apparently, than the high regard I have for my own religion matters to you.

            Rather, my interest is in defending the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. I think the Constitution, including particularly the First Amendment, embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the Constitution serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion. Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how these principles should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked. Efforts to undercut our secular government by somehow merging or infusing it with religion should be resisted by every patriot.

          • RaymondNicholas

            Inherit the Wind is a principled film on what would be taught in schools regarding evolution vs. creationism. The point of listing all those things is a common denominator: those persons and writings in times past were based on Christian beliefs and done so in the public. Nowadays, due to the immense amount of hatred toward Christians, it is no longer about co-existence/accommodation with different POVs; it’s about silencing discourse in the public arena and using coercion to make it so. Arguments for separation of church and state are a smokescreen to hide this real agenda; in the modern era we have no need to worry about outmoded European theocracies. It’s an insult to intelligence today to think that persons expressing their Christian beliefs in public are like boogeymen who will scare all the innocents into conforming or force their beliefs into law, like those done in the ME.

  • Guzzman

    The principal gets a failing grade in Civics 101. Public schools are government entities and are therefore subject to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibiting government promotion of religion. A school official using a school newsletter to disseminte religious messages to students is a blatant violation of the Constitution.

    The Supreme Court has already ruled on this very issue in Santa Fe v. Doe (2001): “School sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are non-adherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.”

  • Andy

    As a devout Christian, it is not easy, of
    course, but one must look at this objectively. So, to be objective and to be
    fair: as a “government official,” it seems correct to say that the
    principal should not have written and sent out an official letter, speaking
    from his “official capacity as a principal of a public school.”

    However, what I find really interesting is that the complaint
    did not originate from a parent of a student who attends the school, but it
    originated from an “unidentified
    resident who does not have a child that attends Walnut Hill complained to the
    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).” This fact cannot be ignored because
    if he doesn’t have a child who attends the school, then this letter, these
    words, should not apply to this resident, as it is obvious that the principal
    is addressing the parents of the students attending the schools.

    Let’s be clear: is the principal really
    propagating religion? Is he just asking for prayer from any religion, albeit he
    mentions Scripture. Perhaps ALL the students in the public school share the
    same religion (Christian). Facts are important here. A thorough investigation
    is necessary. I’m sure his intentions are not at all what the secular,
    atheistic people make it out to be.

    Also, let us not exaggerate such situations so far as to call
    a simple invitation to prayer a “coercion,” “invoking
    prayer,” and the like. Choice of words are critical, and in this
    case, quite interesting. Nobody is forcing anyone to pray, and no one is
    invoking prayer. Let’s be rational, let’s also be fair to Christians.

    It is unfortunate that this is what is happening. Atheists
    are fighting for their rights, but it is costing Christians their rights.
    An atheist can desecrate at the cost of a Christian, but the Christian is
    supposed to bear this? The Christian is supposed to be tolerant of this? But
    all hell breaks loose when a Christian utters those powerful words from
    Scripture. This just proves how afraid Satin is of The Word of God (Holy
    Scripture). The Word of God is stronger. The Word of God will ultimately win in
    the end.

  • BarkingDawg

    You would think that someone who has been a principal for a number of years would at least have an inkling of what the laws are on this topic.

  • RaymondNicholas

    It’s vitally important that we emasculate principled black male role models. They just might bring back God, Family, and Country into the schools, then where would the schools be?

  • Andy

    As a devout Christian, it is not easy, of
    course, but one must look at this objectively. So, to be objective and to be
    fair: as a “government official,” it seems correct to say that the
    principal should not have written and sent out an official letter, speaking
    from his “official capacity as a principal of a public school.”

    However, what I find really interesting is that the complaint
    did not originate from a parent of a student who attends the school, but it
    originated from an “unidentified
    resident who does not have a child that attends Walnut Hill complained to the
    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).” This fact cannot be ignored because
    if he doesn’t have a child who attends the school, then this letter, these
    words, should not apply to this resident, as it is obvious that the principal
    is addressing the parents of the students attending the schools.

    Let’s be clear: is the principal really
    propagating religion? Is he just asking for prayer from any religion, albeit he
    mentions Scripture. Perhaps ALL the students in the public school share the
    same religion (Christian). Facts are important here. A thorough investigation
    is necessary. I’m sure his intentions are not at all what the secular,
    atheistic people make it out to be.

    Also, let us not exaggerate such situations so far as to call
    a simple invitation to prayer a “coercion,” “invoking
    prayer,” and the like. Choice of words are critical, and in this
    case, quite interesting. Nobody is forcing anyone to pray, and no one is
    invoking prayer. Let’s be rational, let’s also be fair to Christians.

    It is unfortunate that this is what is happening. Atheists
    are fighting for their rights, but it is costing Christians their rights.
    An atheist can desecrate at the cost of a Christian, but the Christian is
    supposed to bear this? The Christian is supposed to be tolerant of this? But
    all hell breaks loose when a Christian utters those powerful words from
    Scripture. This just proves how afraid Satin is of The Word of God (Holy
    Scripture). The Word of God is stronger. The Word of God will ultimately win in
    the end.