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Real pushback: School district immediately cancels ban on prayer when threatened with lawsuit

The First Amendment, becoming accepted once again
The First Amendment, becoming accepted once again

Bring a gun to a knife fight: When the officials at West Shore School District in Pennsylvania sent out a letter to the presidents of the various booster clubs at its schools ordering them to “halt prayers at future banquets, and at any other school-sponsored activity” and claiming falsely that “student-initiated prayers at school events are illegal,” two non-profit free speech legal firms, First Liberty and the Independence Law Center teamed up to immediately send a letter to the district challenging that order:

First Liberty and our friends at the Independence Law Center quickly sent a letter to district officials asking them to immediately rescind that threatening letter. Our legal team offered to help draft a new letter and policies to ensure the district would not illegally discriminate against students and staff.

We explained in our letter that the First Amendment prohibits a school district from acting in a hostile manner toward religious belief.

To my readers this story is familiar. What has normally happened next in the past few years — since censorship and blacklisting has become all the rage by those in power — is that the government officials either ignore the letter or publicly defy it. Sometimes they double down and actually fire someone for exercising their First Amendment rights. What follows next is of course a lawsuit, which almost routinely ends in a crushing defeat for the school that costs it significantly in damages.

This story however ended quite differently:

In less than 24 hours, the school district responded favorably. Officials said they would revise their communications to make sure they’re compliant with federal law and in accordance with the Constitution.

It appears that these education officials simply needed some basic education about the Bill of Rights, that no law exists anywhere that makes “”student-initiated prayers at school events illegal,” and in fact all American jurisprudence since the nation’s founding does exactly the opposite, forbiding government officials from interfering in any way with the prayer of anyone.

Though these school officials should have clearly known better, we must at least credit them with quickly recognizing their error, and fixing the problem.

That this story reached such a happy ending so quickly has caused it get almost no coverage by the press. I report it today because I think it signals what might be the emergence of a new very positive trend. A similar thing happened earlier this week in Colorado at the Vanguard School. School officials quickly backed down when their attempt at censoring a 12-year-old’s proud display of a symbol of the American Revolution became public knowledge. They had realized that their actions not only violated the Bill of Rights and was illegal, it was also was producing a lot of bad publicity.

In both cases the officials in charge quickly moved to end the controversy. In the case of the Vanguard School, their initial reluctance to correct their error allowed the story to go viral, to the school’s detriment. Too bad for them. They deserve the bad press for that hesitation.

In the case of West Shore School District, when first notified they were in error, school officials immediately acted to correct their mistake, thus preventing the story from going viral at all. Kudos to them. While they should have known such basic American law from the beginning — especially because they are supposed to teach it — we must credit them for admitting error without hesitation and moving forward positively.

Both stories suggest that if in the future people resist these efforts at blacklisting and censorship, they will gain quicker and quicker victories. Or to put it more bluntly, don’t be a sheep, be a tiger. Fight back immediately, with all the resources you can muster. The odds are increasing you will win, and possibly win fast.

Independence Law Center logo

I also want to note this story because it introduces the name of another non-profit legal firm in this fight that I had been unaware of, the Independence Law Center. As it notes on its webpage:

We defend human life at all stages and defend the rights of the people to freely exercise their religion, as well as all the other First Amendment freedoms that depend on that first freedom. We protect and advance these and other self-evident truths through advocacy in courts of law and courts of public opinion, and through legislative, local, and educational policy development.

I have now added this firm to my list of non-profit legal firms that have all replaced the bankrupt ACLU in fighting battle for liberty and free speech. While the ACLU is fighting to allow hospitals and parents to castrate and mutilate little children, these firms have stepped up to defend the Bill of Rights and the basic value of freedom and the rule of law that made this country the light of liberty to the world.

If you find yourself being blacklisted or censored, you might want to quickly contact one of the firms listed at my essay: Where to get legal help if you have been illegally blacklisted. You may have a viable case for victory, and in fact, you may find victory occurring faster than you expect.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • wayne

    Serendipitously, Dave Smith hammers on this topic in his latest podcast.

    “Public School Propaganda”
    Part Of The Problem Number 1030
    Dave Smith (8-31-23)

  • James Street

    Leftists have good reason to fear prayer.

  • Jess

    Glad to hear this.
    But I remain dumbfounded that parents keep sending their children into the “public fool system”. In my view any parent who does this is guilty of child abuse.

  • Joe


    Unfortunately many people cannot afford to send their kids to private school or take the time to home school. In fact most parents would be worse at teaching than the public teachers. The school system needs help. My solutions, however, will win me no favors from either side of the fence.

  • DJ

    Charter schools operate independently and do not cost the student (parents). The tax base follows them. In all cases that I am aware of, the school district keeps a percent of the tax dollars. Here is the thing. A charter school, unlike public schools, absolutely needs the students. If a student leaves, there goes the tax dollars. If enough leave, there goes the charter school. My point is there is significant incentive to meet parents expectation for the child’s education. Public school system has “soft landings” for the public schools. If memory serves, they “lose” one third of the tax revenue for the first year, one third the second year, and the last in the third year. The charter school loses it all if the enrollment is not there. There are very good charter schools. Caring parent search them out. Once in a while there will be someone that want to turn a charter school into major profit center. Those do less well. The good ones can compare to private schools.

  • Crotte

    We have lost our Republic!!!!!! Time to take it back!!!!!!!!! Clean out the WOKE Biden/DEI /DNC Government and bring the USA back from the SWAMP!!!!!


    “Niki Haley, presidential primary candidate: “Suggests mental competency test for ALL of Congress after Mitch McConnell’s latest freeze as a follow up to her proposal for 75-year age limit for presidential candidates.”

    “Now I think everyone on both sides of the political divide in America today can agree on one thing, Kamala Harris is NOT going to be running for president if and when Joe is forced to drop out for health reasons or to spend more “quality time” with his “6” grandchildren.”

    On Labor Day I work twice as hard :)

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