Victory! Florida School Rescinds ‘God Bless America’ Ban
TUPELO, Miss.—A Florida high school is back in the news, but this time for reversing a previous decision to ban students from uttering the phrase “God bless America” while delivering morning announcements.
Earlier this month, a student at Yulee High School, part of the Nassau County School District, said “God bless America, keep us safe” at the end of the school announcements. After two atheist students contacted the American Humanist Association, a battle of religious freedoms began.
But last week, the Nassau County School Board voted to approve the phrase after talking with lawyers and deciding that students who use the phrase are not violating the constitutional rights of others.
American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net), which had sent an Action Alert about the matter to its one million-plus friends and supporters urging them to contact the school, says the decision is a smart one that sends the right message to students.
“This is a wonderful lesson for the students at Yulee High School and the Nassau County School District of how a wrong can be made right,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “American Family Association applauds the swift action of the school board, as well as the decision to rescind the ban on this phrase that has permeated our history for hundreds of years.”
The Florida Times-Union/Jacksonville.com shared a statement from the school with its readers: “Upon consultation with legal counsel and review of legal advisories, the Nassau County School District has taken the position that a student’s use of the phrase ‘God Bless America’ during the morning announcements at Yulee High School does not violate the Constitution of the United States. We feel that the complaint filed on behalf of another student through the American Humanist Association should not supersede the right of other students to use the phrase, as it does not promote any religious denomination and is commonly used as an expression of patriotism.”
When AFA first issued the alert, it quoted a report from Fox News’ Todd Starnes. Starnes cited Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys, who stated that the student was well within his constitutional rights in using “God bless America,” adding, “Whether a student is being patriotic or engaging in religious speech, there is no law in this country forbidding a student from telling his or her classmates, ‘God bless America,’ and it is illegal for a school to censor a student for doing so.”