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American Family Association: Florida School Crossed Line in Censoring Student’s Free Speech

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 @ 12:00 AM

TUPELO, Miss.—It was a normal school morning in the Nassau County School District, as a high school student was reading the morning announcements. Until he closed with one simple phrase, “God Bless America,” and atheists took aim.

As FOX News’ Todd Starnes reports, instead of contacting the principal with their concerns, the atheist students contacted the American Humanist Association (AHA), which quickly sent a letter to the principal and school district demanding the school stop any such activity under threat of lawsuit. Immediately, the school district responded that it had “warned” the student against any such future statements.

American Family Association (AFA, says the school district violated the student’s constitutionally protected right to free speech and is encouraging Americans across the country to immediately contact the school superintendent, Dr. John L. Ruis, and urge him to take corrective action to uphold the student’s constitutional rights.

“This is yet another desperate attempt by the American Humanist Association to remove all reference to ‘God’ in American discourse,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “As we all know, and as has been upheld time and time—and time—again in our court system, Americans are free to mention God on school property. In fact, Americans are free to mention God anywhere in this nation. Ironically, it’s likely God is mentioned more at AHA headquarters than in most places, as they dedicate so much time and effort to removing him from our nation.”

According to Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys, the student was well within his constitutional rights in saying, “God bless America.” Dys said, “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.”

Wildmon added, “It’s ironic that many politicians frequently end their speeches with ‘God bless America,’ but the school feels the same freedom of speech doesn’t apply to students.”

AFA recently sent an Action Alert, urging friends and supporters to contact Nassau County School District superintendent Dr. John Ruis to urge him to correct this injustice against the student and to ask him to provide ‘remedial training’ to all staff, advising them of the First Amendment rights and freedoms of students under the Constitution.

AFA offered Americans the following ways to take action:

1)      Call Superintendent Dr. John Ruis at 904-491-9900.

2)      Connect with Superintendent Ruis via Facebook or the Nassau County School District’s web site.

3)      Email Superintendent Ruis at


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