Principal, Athletic Director Face Criminal Contempt Charges For Prayer; Defense Fund Established

August 10, 2009

Two Santa Rosa educators are facing criminal charges for praying in violation of a federal court order, and a criminal defense fund has been established to help with with their legal expenses.

franklay2.jpgPace High School Principal Frank Lay asked the school’s athletic director, Robert Freeman, to bless a meal where sports boosters had gathered to celebrate the completion of a new field house.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in federal court almost a year ago against the Santa Rosa School District, Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and then-Santa Rosa Superintendent John Rogers. The suit alleged that Santa Rosa County Schools “persistently and persuasively promote their personal religious beliefs in the public schools and at school events”.

A federal court order earlier this year prohibited, among other things, any prayer in schools, “reading from a sacred text”, “calling upon a deity to offer guidance, assistance or a blessing” and religious services such as baccalaureate services. There are circumstances were student-led prayers are permissible, but school employees are prohibited to participate in the prayer, even prohibited from “a posture or manner that is likely to be perceived as an endorsement of prayer, e.g. bowing their heads, kneeling or folding their hands”.

robertfreeman.jpg Lay and Freeman were ordered to appear before a federal judge on criminal contempt charges for allegedly violating the court order. They are scheduled to appear in federal court on September 17. They could, depending on the judge’s ruling, be forced to pay fines or serve time in jail.

Several supporters, including Milton insurance agent Robert Smith have formed a legal defense fund to help the two men pay their legal expenses. It will, according to the site, take $8,000 for them to pay the retainer for a lawyer to represent them in the September 17 hearing.

The site,, asks supporters to make donations to the Lay and Freeman Defense Fund at any First National Bank of Florida. The site is also selling t-shirts for $10.

The site also details a Sawmill Band concert and hamburger supper that will be held at 5:30 on September 10 at the Farmer’s Opry in Chumuckla to benefit the criminal defense fund.

The criminal defense fund was opened last Tuesday. By Wednesday, the balance was at $3,710. By last Friday, the fund balance had grown to $6454.35.

The lawsuit filed last year names specific events at several Santa  Rosa schools, including Jay. The suit states that Jay High School held an invocation and benediction prayer each year from 2004-2008 led by students from groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  The ACLU also complains in the suit that Jay High School has held baccalaureate services that were religious in nature.

The ACLU  also requested documents from the Escambia County School District that might relate to religion or prayer. Specifically, the ACLU requested records from Escambia Schools about graduations and baccalaureate services. The ACLU public records requests also asked for the notes of all speakers at the event as well as any audio or video recordings of the events.  The ACLU request extended to all schools in Escambia County, including Northview High School.

Read the complete criminal contempt order against Lay and Freeman by clicking here (pdf).


125 Responses to “Principal, Athletic Director Face Criminal Contempt Charges For Prayer; Defense Fund Established”

  1. Beverly on September 10th, 2009 11:29 am

    oh my Word! Prayer in the hall scared the kids?!!! You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s not like they were shooting anyone or the kids were in danger of being saved by witnessing that event. Jesus doesn’t jump on you and make you serve him. If they don’t want to participate, then don’t. We Christians have to stomach a society of abortion, sex selling everything, homosexuality, greed, etc. if you think for one minute that we don’t have a RIGHT of freedom of speech and opinion you are highly mistaken. Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom only if you agree with my opinion. Get over it folks. Christians are not 2nd rate citizens and will NOT take the backseat to rights just because the rest of this country seems to have turned their back on our Christian roots.

  2. Katrina on August 31st, 2009 9:49 am

    If Jesus hadn’t said,
    “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Matthew 28: 19
    then we could separate all religions by state…. Christians have to live in Alabama and Florida; Muslims have to live in Nevada and Iowa, and so on. But He tells us to go and do….not sit around and wait.

    Our freedom of speech has already been taken from us. And our other rights will soon follow. The Bible tells us so. Why is it such a surprise to everyone?

    “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3: 12-13

    “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their OWN desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4: 2-5

    I understand that we shouldn’t teach religion in schools because individual beliefs would be forced on kids. If you were a Christian and a teacher, you would not want to be forced to teach the children a different religion. However, by telling teachers and children that they can not pray at school, even if it doesn’t involve anyone else, that is taking away a person’s right to #1 Freedom of Speech (if the prayer is said aloud) and #2 Freedom of Religion. I urge everyone to take that stand to protect our rights. If you won’t, then don’t expect to have them much longer.

  3. Dennis Egan, Jr. on August 28th, 2009 10:39 pm

    I am amazed at how easy members of mankind fall into the hands of Satan. I sincerely believe that the ACLU is not a work of the God of Israel, the Father of Jesus Christ. Perhaps they are a work of God in the sense that they are simply His instrument to “chastise” the lukewarm church, i.e., the complacency of God’s people has resulted in such anti-Christ organizations gaining power as the ACLU. Consequently, those of us who claim to be Christians need to be careful to obey the Holy Spirit so that we don’t rise up in spiritual pride thinking with an us against them mentality. I love God and my country; however, the need to put God first in our lives has never been more significant or important, I submit. What is going to happen if true Christians keep being silent? Jesus is coming soon and we must be willing to live for Him, especially when it is not convenient. I love objective truth, which is one of two main issues needing attention when it comes to the ACLU. The other issue is the reality of the nature of man.

    Our society needs integrity and sincere redemptive experiences. We need the anointing of Almighty God, through the authority of the risen Messiah, to help us do what is right in this present world. Shalom!

    Your neighbor,

    Mr. Dennis Egan

    P.S. Virtuous living should be a bridge allowing public opinion to cross over from subjectivity to objectivity; hence, when people, historically and presently, do that which is honorable with respect to public service, character and morality, we need to take the worldview and sentiments of such people seriously and allow our attitude toward faith in God and our subsequent role in society to be influenced thereby.

    Consider the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “The true Christian is the true citizen, lofty of purpose, resolute in endeavor, ready for a hero’s deeds, but never looking down on his task because it is cast in the day of small things; scornful of baseness, awake to his own duties as well as to his rights, following the higher law with reverence, and in this world doing all that in his power lies, so that when death comes he may feel that mankind is in some degree better because he lived” (The New Dictionary of Thoughts; Standard Book Co. 1965-USA).

  4. Conservative Grandma on August 25th, 2009 10:31 am

    Unless we who are Christians, Catholics and Protestants, stand up and FIGHT this horrible communistic powergride that has overtaken our land of freedom. All of us who are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be forced to die for Him. Right here on the very ground our forefathers, and our relatives died for, so that we could live in freedom. It’s all about power and money. It’s time for the Church of Jesus Christ to stand up and join God’s army today. Enough is Enough.

  5. David on August 24th, 2009 7:57 am

    The so-called court order (consent agreement actually) was not legally valid because it was unconsciounable and violates the First Amendment. This is Roy Moore number 2. Please read Roy Moore’s book, “So Help Me God” and understand the difference between acknowledging God and promoting an esablishment of religion. Citizens do not lose their Constitutional rights simply because they are elected as Student Body President or are a teacher or principal of a public school. No school should formulate a prayer and force it upon students, but an indvidual teacher or principal should certainly be allowed to acknowledge God in his speech and to pray a thanks to God over a meal or school event. The Constitution is about freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion. The criminal proceedings against Lay and Freeman are an outrage and a violation of Federal law. The U.S. Judge, Casey Rodgers, is way off base here. Her logic and legal theory is askew and somebody needs to correct her or send her to jail for forcing her erroneous concepts upon Lay and Freeman through force. She needs to read and UNDERSTAND James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” written in 1785. James Madison wrote the First Amendment.

  6. Dan Costello on August 20th, 2009 12:25 pm


  7. Victoria Nikolov on August 19th, 2009 8:12 am

    Constitution Charley mentions Separation of Church and State, which is NOT in the Constitution. It was in a letter Thomas Jefferson Wrote to someone.
    In the Constitution it says that Congress cannot establish a religion. We have the right to say a prayer anywhere we want to, yet the ACLU has been able to distort our Constitution and brought about the absence of religion. I am almost certain that our fore-fathers never intended to prevent people from praying anyplace they wish to pray. Imagine a scenario where a school has been hit by an earthquake and children and teachers are buried in the school. If the teachers prayed to comfort the children, praying to be rescued , when they are safe, the ACLU would bring those teachers to court. The Principal and Coach are not guilty of anything. By the ACLU own rules, cannot pray with students, THERE WAS NOT ONE STUDENT AT THAT DINNER. If I had my way, I would forbid Marxism from being allowed in schools. No one is being indoctrinated to pray, yet there is plenty of indoctrination going on to students about the value of Communism. We deserve what we get. Shame on us. I KNOW THIS IS OFF TOPIC. I feel sorry for those of us who know what to expect from Communism and Socialism and ask when was the last time someone escapet TO a Communist country. There will be no place left to go once our health care is taken over by the government. Be careful what you wish for.

  8. kuntry bumpkin on August 18th, 2009 1:54 pm

    This is not a matter of whether or not you find it offensive that prayers are or are not allowed in school. The 2 were arrested for violating a court order. If, for example, you had a neighbor under court order preventing him/her from trespassing on your property, and that person did so, wouldn’t you say that he/she violated a court order? Regardless of what you think, a violation is a violation regardless of the nature of its triviality.

  9. OMSF24 on August 17th, 2009 7:27 pm

    One wonders why a national plea for money to be used on legal defense is needed when according to the claims of many, they should put their effort into praying for divine help in the matter. Or can cash override divine will?

  10. David on August 17th, 2009 6:02 pm

    A lot of people are making assumptions after reading the article. You talk about “separation of church and state”, what about “innocent until proven guilty?” Yes, they prayed in a government institution. Maybe they prayed in front of kids. But nothing says they’ve pushed religion on anyone. They’re exercising their rights, and there is nothing in the constitution that says they can’t. Separation of church and state isn’t stated in the Constitution. What are the rest of the facts here? Is it actually as the media is reporting?

  11. D on August 17th, 2009 10:16 am

    “Congress shall not establish a religion. or interfere with your right thereof”. This is a direct quote from the Constitution of the United States of America. Seems to me that persecuting these men for praying is interfering with their right. The ACLU has twisted the intention of our forefathers. God was sought in every aspect of our early government. Separation of church and state IS NOT in our constitution. The state governing religion is the whole point. Don’t be afraid of these bullies. Fear is a perversion of faith. God is bigger than any man or union. If we Christians will band together and pray for our country and for those in leadership, our faithful God will act on our behalf. God Bless America

  12. Dori on August 17th, 2009 6:55 am

    I am an older person and have been in my country THE UNITED STATES all my life. I remember when we were in school we would do the pledge of allegiance and then were given “a moment of silence”. That moment of silence was for prayer, thoughts, or whatever. I never had a teacher PUSH their religion on me. That is ridiculous.
    They are trying to persecute christians. It is very apparent. Instead of all our christian base religions pointing fingers and calling names and putting one another down we should drop our differences, embrace our GOD, and rally for HIM. As a group we would be a formidable force and the government would have to take notice. These petty persecutions have to stop. Arresting people at whim for prayer is ludicrous. When I heard that I got a chill thru my very soul. I am in AMERICA right? Or did someone kidnap all of us during the night and take us to a foreign land? GOD BLESS AMERICA.
    OUr country was made by people that left other countries for severe religious retrictions. They came here for religious freedom. That is based on historical Fact. Our constitution was based on it and also was formed by christian leaders. This is the only country I know of that allows everybody and their buddies to come live here and then TELL US how our country should think, believe, and also to even try to change our language!! It is great to have such diversity but it should not overtake what our country has stood for for centuries. It is not the christian running everyone out –it is all the ones AGAINST them that has the winning hand. But it wouldn’t be that way if all the religious groups banded together as one and spoke with one voice and started voicing the outrage of it all.
    This country is not the AMERICA I remember. When a person gets arrested for PRAYER–are we in the soviet union where bibles had to be hidden under floors to even be read?

  13. Constitution Charlie on August 16th, 2009 9:53 pm

    The question was asked, “Is Separation of church and state found in any of our governing documents?”

    Here are a couple good explanations of this concept:

  14. beereal57 on August 16th, 2009 8:33 pm


  15. Question on August 16th, 2009 7:44 pm

    Is Separation of church and state found in any of our governing documents?

  16. Mike on August 16th, 2009 6:53 pm

    The public schools have enough problems without opening up schools to the strife that will come when ALL religions are invited in, not just christianity. As far as those commenting about biblical values, some set forth include, rape, mass murder (including women and young children), genocide, land grabbing, kiddnapping, forced marriage, slavery, cheating (jacob and Esau) and polygamy, Death is the punishment for blasphemy, swearing and working on the sabbath, among dozens of other transgretions. If this is a christian nation, would Christ, who taught love, support our invasions of Iraq and Afganistan? And finally, it states in the book of Matthew that you should pray in private, not in public like the hypocrites. Perhaps christians should spend more time reading their bible instead of making demands.

  17. Continuum on August 16th, 2009 2:34 pm

    These Christian baptists ignore the faiths of others, be they Catholic, Jew or Moslem. For some reason, they think that their version of faith and their version of the Bible are the only right ones. The rights of everyone else not to have their children indoctrinated into this evangelical branch of Christianity are ignored.

    As soon as the school district sets aside as much time for my Catholic prayers, then maybe I’ll give the principal a pass. Until then, let him pray in his own church and I won’t force his Baptist kids to pray the Rosary in his public school.

  18. Constitution Charlie on August 15th, 2009 9:15 pm

    JAQUEBAUER, “tattle tales”? Are you serious? What are you, in 4th grade? Those people were simply sticking up for THEIR rights as guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution. Ever read it?

    As far as the ACLU goes… if some group discriminates against you because you’re different somehow from them it will be the ACLU who comes to your defense. Will you name call them as communists then too?

  19. JAQUEBAUER on August 15th, 2009 9:01 pm

    The little tattle tales who ran to the foundation known as the Communist ACLU to “rat” on their teachers were not injured, hurt, or compromised in any way. I believe they wanted to create mischief.
    This stinkin ACLU, made up of communist lawyers must be challanged. I believe they are a criminal organization with a motive to destroy the moral foundations of our great country. We must fight them at every turn, at every street, and in every house. No one was hurt, and if the ACLU and the courts get their way, we will all be in grave danger. I wonder if Obama had any influece here ?
    One last note, I saw this case presented on Huckabee ( FOX News) tonight with intense interest that it be followed closely. God Bless.

  20. Constitution Charlie on August 15th, 2009 8:27 pm

    Freedom of speech and freedom to choose religion have NOTHING to do with a school or business. Those rights afforded us by the Constitution are protections provided for us “from the gov’t”. This school repeatedly pushed their religious beliefs on their students without their permission. They do not have that right.

    Many people believe that whatever they personally believe is ok to preach about whenever and wherever they wish. Thank God this judge disagreed with George Bush’s belief that “the Constitution is just a God damn piece of paper”.

    These people were warned and ORDERED by a judge in a court order!

    Wanna pray? Go to a church. Maybe others don’t want to hear you. THEY have rights also. Ever hear of the “Separation of church and state”? There is a reason for this.

    As far as people using their last names, they don’t dare use their real names for fear of any whackos who might disagree with them and try to track them down.

  21. Ronald Register on August 15th, 2009 8:14 pm

    I can see where prayer in school could be a problem, i wouldn’t want certain religions being prayed with my children in presence. But the schools do need the moral values that come with christianity, not that people live up to those values, but at least it is a goal. The bible teaches to not seek revenge, not to slander, to pay your debts in full (dont max out credit), and to just overall be a good person. Again, you see “christians” in the news all the time not holding up to these values, but there are alot of people out there that are good people. They just arent news worthy. The answer is a moment of silence to pray if you choose, that choice includes staff at the school, but to themselves. And Muslims, Catholics, Jehova Witness etc. can do their praying to themselves. I guess atheist can jsut look around:)

  22. F Clark on August 15th, 2009 9:35 am

    As I understand the situation they did NOT break the law they violated a court ruling. The first ammendment protects their right to free speech and freedom from religeous prosecution….their freedoms and rights are the ones being violated. The ACLU would love to destroy anything related to christianity and that is why the are in this issue. If we do not support these men, what other of our rights and freedoms will be the next to go?
    It is also interesting that we put unique prayer ritual locations in public places for the Muslim practice….but not Christianity. Does anyone see the direction this is going?

  23. Linda H on August 15th, 2009 8:05 am

    Let them pray, God Bless America or can i still say that ?

  24. Amy Dolby on August 14th, 2009 4:05 pm

    This nation was founded on Christian faith and morals, which is why for so long it has prospered. God blesses those that seek Him. However, as we continue to let immorality and the worship of other gods take over our country we will see it’s demise. Who do we blame? Parents? The church? the goverment? We can always find someone to blame other than ourselves but each one of us has the responsibilty to stand up for truth. We are all to blame! Until we accept this responsibilty we are without help. Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve….but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

  25. Collin Anderson on August 13th, 2009 9:27 pm

    Well said, Josh! I agree 100%. These men did indeed break the law, but it is a law that has no business even being created. If people would stop focusing on who else they can get in trouble and what other group of people they can take a stab at, our lives would be much better. If they don’t want to hear it, then just don’t listen! If you want to spend eternity being tortured and burned, it saddens me to say this, but there’s nothing I can do about it! Its your choice. Choose wisely, because you are never guaranteed tomorrow. Each breath that you take is a gift from God, and if you don’t use it, that’s your own fault, but I’m telling you, you’ll regret it. It won’t be us “bible bangers” that cause your regrets, it’ll be the eternity you spend in Hell.

    This particular arrest is the world’s stupid and immature way of saying that we’re right. Christians are targeted to prevent us from getting the word out. One question: Why aren’t Hindus and Muslims being arrested? Also, that court order should not even exist because it violates two parts of the bill of rights. In America, we are allowed to believe whatever we want, and nobody can do anything about it. We’re also allowed to say whatever we want, whenever we want. If we want to pray to the God we believe in, then we’re going to do it, no matter what Obama or any court order says. Nobody can stop us from praying to our God. If these government control freaks want to stop us from praying and kill our citizens, I’m going somewhere else. This is America, and we are supposed to stand for freedom!

    Another thing, why are courts wasting there time arresting and charging people for clasping their hands and bowing their heads? Those empty jail cells should be used for murders and rapists, not school principals who are devoted to God.

    Yet another thing, read the health care legislation. What you see in it will suprise you. Something else interesting: The health care legislation is a series of amendments. However, the amendments are not shown in their full context. I went to almost seventy sites, and they were all missing parts of the legislations that were being amended. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    To all you evolutionists – sorry to burst your bubble, but God created the universe and everything in it. You can convince yourself evolution is true all you want, but its not. Athiests, sorry, but God is real. You choose to believe it or not believe it, but choose wisely; you only get one shot at life.

  26. William Wendt on August 13th, 2009 1:35 pm

    If I count right, approximately 88 out of 100 posts on this subject alone HIDE behind a screen name. I am asking myself why that is? Do we not believe in our postion enough? Do we fear recourse for our beliefs? Is it that we are not convinced that we are right? Is it that our position’s may be weak? Maybe our responses are thought out in anger. What ever the case or arguement is, it managed to get a lot of attention on the subject.
    Does anyone know what the two kids named in the original lawsuit bought with their dollar? Please correct me if I am wrong, but they didn’t have names either……

  27. If only............. on August 13th, 2009 12:01 pm

    If only there was some place beside school where god loving, jesus worshipping, satan hating people of like minds could get together and discuss their beliefs……………………….Oh wait, isn’t that what church is for? NOT PUBLIC SCHOOL.

    If you want your chidren to go to school and receive religious training, then send them to a private religious school of your choice. If you say I can’t afford to do that, I say get your school choice voucher, stop giving the church your weekly 20% tide and get a 2nd job if it is that important to you. I don’t want you or anyone else deciding what religion if any my child should learn, unless you recognize and teach all religious beliefs including Agnosticism and Atheism.

  28. Wild Bill on August 13th, 2009 11:19 am

    A lot of people are “explaining” what our founding fathers and framers of the constitution thought about religion and seperation of church and state. To get a more rounded view about their actual thoughts and ideas,please visit

  29. Thinker #2 on August 13th, 2009 9:02 am

    Like ‘Thinker’, I too am a non-believer. But the difference between us is this: Thinker is an idiot and I’m not. Furthermore, and the ACLU is worthless.

  30. Joshua Kent on August 12th, 2009 10:54 pm

    First of all to the girl that said if we allow any religion in school then she would have other views that she did not agree in pressed upon her….hello what about Evolution which by the way denies the Creation of the world by God….which is a religion in its self.
    Second of all the bible states that in the latter times man will call what is good bad and what is bad good and that there will be a falling away from the faith because man will be willing to be ignorant. The bible talks about this and my Christian friends it will only get worse. For those who have read their scripture they will know this and God’s word does not lie. When Jesus said that they will hate us because of him and they hated him first…..HELLO it is happening.

    All we can do is pray for these two individuals and have faith that God will deliver them from the courts.

    Just know that one day the non believing types will have to account for their sins and woe to them that teach the little one’s to believe a false doctrine.

    Finally it is not the parent’s fault….it is the Church’s fault because when the truth comes out I believe that the Church ( generations back ) have failed us when man started to contradict the bible with this Evolution, calling Earth millions of years old they allowed this lie just as when Satan told Eve that she would “NOT” die when eating of the forbidden fruit. Man denied the word and the church placed the Science of the bible in the hands of the very people who were not believers which caused our kids to say well the bible does not say that earth is millions of years old what else is it wrong about…….NOTHING….that is what it is wrong about NOTHING> So We can thank the old churches for not standing in their faith and now we have generations later of these people removing prayer from school and all other ungodly acts.

    FACT. The government is supposed to be restricted from public education….yet who owns the schools? Who sanctions the evolution and the other crap in schools…..not teaching our kids to have sex instead of telling them to do it safely….what can you expect.

    Next election read your bible instead of going to the voting booth. Let the idiots of America shoot themselves in the foot with their own words and statements and policies and you believers in America…..hold to what is truth, and put away that which is not godly…….


  31. John on August 12th, 2009 10:20 pm

    Barrineau Park dad, Mark Twain was a twit. AND All you athesists on here “Mr thinker”, I love you brother! May the Lord forgive you for that you don’t believe in. I hope he convicts your heart and even send me to meet you.

    May I invite you to church this Sunday at Ray’s Chapel Baptist Church on Bogia Rd, McDavid, FL.

    I love the Lord, i always will! These men broke the law, but for all the right reasons. I can’t wait for the dimise of the ACLU! May they all meet up with someone who can witness to each and everyone one of them and I hope and “PRAY” that they will ALL come to know the Lord and his everloving grace!

    See ya’ll this Sunday!

  32. Susan on August 12th, 2009 3:28 pm

    And your point is???????

  33. Becky King on August 12th, 2009 2:46 pm

    I cannot believe that this country is really coming to this point. The idiot from the ACLU stated this… “…Religious freedom is eroded when the government endorses any particular religious viewpoint.” ~Benjamin Stevenson, ACLU, FL’s NW Region. Religious freedom is not eroded when the govt endorses a religious viewpoint, it is actually supported, since they’ll be promoting religious freedom! Not criminalizing it!
    There weren’t even any students when these 2 guys “blessed the food”! How is that wrong!??? The adults who had a problem should’ve acted like adults and stepped out of the room or just let these guys say a prayer! They act like these 2 were shooting nails in someone’s head! It’s downright wrong! Thank goodness that God is on these 2 guys’ sides!

  34. Thinker on August 12th, 2009 2:28 pm

    It’s always amazing to me how followers of Jesus (who was inclusive and compassionate of others in his gospel – whether historical or fictional) tend to divide, spew hatred, create tension and say things like have been said in many of these posts. I think maybe we do need a “school for fanatics”, Susan…a reform school. That’s why, at about 25 years of age, I completely rejected the Christian church, and its bible, with the exception of the “Sermon on The Mount”. Quiet meditation and following the Buddhist dharma is so much more efficient.

    People here talk about freedom of religion, yet VERY FEW Americans are given that freedom personally. Most are indoctrinated (even brain washed) into their parents’ religions. If a young person ever grows to a point where they are ABLE to chose their religion (and own it) freely, it comes only after painful experiences and gut-wrenching tearful self examination and with the danger of alienation from family and friends.

  35. Toni on August 12th, 2009 2:21 pm

    We have the right to practice our beliefs anywhere. If you do not like it look the other way. We as christians have to do same with all the same sex marriages, abortions, ect. We need to stand as Christians and stand up for our Lord. He is the Alpha and the Omega. You cannot and will not wash out his name.

    May the Lord give us the strength and guidance, Amen.

  36. an observer on August 12th, 2009 1:56 pm

    susan, isn’t this post about prayer in school or at school functions…did i read it wrong or what? I t all has to do with prayer…in school or around school or at school functions

  37. Jamison on August 12th, 2009 1:55 pm


    Your first statement is just wrong. What about Buddhism and Taoism. Many Muslims would tell you that same message is EXACTLY what Islam teaches, though I think the Koran and Bible can go toe to toe on violence and sadism, the point is that Christianity is not the only faith to teach pacifism.

  38. Bully on August 12th, 2009 1:19 pm

    Christianity is the ONLY religion in the entire world that requires its members to love their enemies and to turn the other cheek. Yet, Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword to set one against another, even their own family members. This paradox is one that all Christians should seek to better understand.

  39. Susan on August 12th, 2009 11:33 am

    your comments are the best argument for why religion should not be in schools.
    Imagine if you were a teacher and some students didn’t share your views of your God and beliefs.

    Also, you can always open your own school and call it SCHOOL FOR FANATICS.

  40. an observer on August 12th, 2009 10:55 am

    why don’t the people who DON’T want prayer in schools, open their own school for the kids who don’t want to do it…they could call it SCHOOL FOR THE ATHIEST, then at least we woul’d know who these people were and we wouldn’t have to associate with them! THIS IS RIDICIOULOUS!!!!!!!! Well, those who don’t want to or don’t want thir kids to pray, we ALL know where they WON’T be when WE go to heaven! At least we will be rid of them one day…..FOR GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. Elizabeth on August 12th, 2009 8:18 am

    Did you catch the interview with Mr. Lay and Mr. Freeman on Fox and Friends this morning?

  42. John F. Cruz on August 12th, 2009 7:19 am

    Good Luck Mr. Lay. I am in Wi. praying for you.
    I lived on your schools property for a year as the on site security. I prayed at sometime on every part of your campus. Let them come get me.
    John Cruz

  43. Susan on August 12th, 2009 5:45 am

    NHS, you sound like a very intelligent, level-headed, think-for-yourself, person. I’m sure your parents are proud of you.

  44. Diane on August 12th, 2009 5:13 am

    If you want ALL religion out of school, I suggest they stop teaching my child evolution. Why have we all become so offended by someone bowing their heads to pray? When 9-11 happened or when the Pope got shot there was a whole lot of prayer going on. If children YOUR children don’t want to bow their heads then they won’t. Ya’ll are funny. FORCED prayer. What did they do? Bind them up and glue their hands together and hold a gun to their heads? Get real people. While you are sitting behind your little computers spouting off, there is a crisis in our government and things being changed that we don’t like and you wanna complain about some prayer a school official prayed? Grow up or shut up!

  45. NHS student on August 12th, 2009 12:03 am

    when school starts back up I won’t be able to stay up late and do this. It has been kinda like school reading all of this and seeing how different everyone is and how different the way they believe. I am glad north escambia is here to let people read and comment on other peoples views. this is a good forum and I think I might be a little smarter now from spending so much time on here. thanks North Escambia news people.

  46. NHS student on August 11th, 2009 11:57 pm

    I guess I am confused about this? some people who have faith are opposed to prayer in school, and some are for it. no one will ever agree. I can’t say non belivers because people who use that term really mean others who don’t belive what I do. I thought the issue was prayer in school that is lead by a school official? as students we can pray and worship in school, we can’t interfear with others and should be respectful, but we should not have school lead prayer. I thought that was the issue, school lead prayer, meaning the person leading the prayer works for the school in some way like a teacher, janitor, administrator or whatever. students can still worship, we have a big prayer session at the flagpole several times during the year at NHS. it is student lead and it is good! what is the problem with keeping teachers and school employees out of student lead prayer? I don’t think anyone said they can’t pray, my understanding is they just can not lead prayer? why does this have to be so messy? when I said there should not be prayer in school earlier it is more accurate what I am saying now as I left out the school lead portion before.

  47. Anne on August 11th, 2009 10:50 pm

    There are 5 historical steps to religious persecution by a government.

    1. Identifying – Fingerpointing
    2. Marginalizing – Smear campaign
    3. Vilifying – Slander and abuse
    4. Criminalizing – Arrests
    5. Terrorizing – Coercion by threats or violence

    We are at stage # 4 . . . Add the ‘Hate-Crime’ legislation and we are well on our way to government imposed religious persecution. Silence breeds consent.

  48. Cindy Huckabee on August 11th, 2009 10:19 pm

    Praise God we have a God that loves us and listens to us!
    Do you know about “Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel” ?

  49. J. P. on August 11th, 2009 9:54 pm

    To All Non-believers.
    The absolute fact is people of faith have everything to gain and nothing to lose
    by having faith and exercising it. Consider we are correct in our faith. We will be
    blessed with a perfect eternity with God forever. Non-believers, on the other hand
    have absolutely nothing to gain in their non-belief and everything to lose. At least
    as Christians if we are wrong, God forgive me, we will be no worse off than non-
    believers. BUT, what if WE ARE RiGHT?

    I truly think our youth should at least be exposed to some kind of “supreme
    being” so they will be able to make up their own mind as to what is true.

    An open prayer in school has never harmed anyone. If it made someone feel un-
    comfortable it is simply because they allowed these feelings. You have to give
    your permission for anything to make you feel out of place.

  50. NHS student on August 11th, 2009 9:31 pm

    susan, I agree, open for religion means any religion, not only my religion. none in school is the best policy i think. otherwise we are going to end up learning and being forced to participate in junk I don’t belive in and right now do not have to be exposed to. I do not worship the devil, nor do I go to a satin church or whatever it is called, I have that choice now. if religion is allowed in school that choice not to expose myself to stuff i do not believe in is taken from me. I am going to be exposed to all of it. I would rather choose to go to my church on sunday then be forced to learn or be exposed to other religions monday thru friday. this is just my thoughts, im only 18 so what do I know….

  51. BarrineauParkDad on August 11th, 2009 8:36 pm

    Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven….The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.
    - Mark Twain from “The Lowest Animal”

    In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
    - Autobiography of Mark Twain

  52. Susan on August 11th, 2009 6:38 pm

    I do understand your argument. And your’re wrong.

    If you must profess your relationship with your “God”, do it on your own time. Not while you are being paid with tax dollars to teach school, not religion.

    This should have been stopped sooner.

  53. J. P. on August 11th, 2009 5:38 pm

    Please understand the argument. There isn’t anyone advocating teaching
    any form of religion in school. One must further understand, when a person
    has a true relationship with his God, he MUST profess it before man and

    If the lawyers in the aclu and the judges in the Federal courts had any faith in
    any form of “supreme being” at all, there would be no issue with anyone
    uttering a humble prayer anywhere anytime.

    Why should they fear that?

  54. Susan on August 11th, 2009 4:41 pm

    Do you realize that when you open up the schools to teach religion, it will be any religion, not YOUR religion.
    There are 2 Wiccan followers (elementry teachers) just waiting to infulence your children’s young, impressionable minds.
    This little trial in Santa Rosa County could open up a big can of worms. Better to keep ALL RELIGION out of public school.

  55. Bully on August 11th, 2009 4:19 pm

    Are the bounds of human thought limitless? No we nave limits. But if this were true, then we all would be gods. Human reason was given by the limitless Creator in order to make sense of who He is and order our lives according the standard given. Anything otherwise is chaos.

  56. xpeecee on August 11th, 2009 4:18 pm

    “Mr. Thinker.” When all else fails you pull out your poor, black, ignorant card. That is pretty sad. This has nothing to do with race, status, or education, sir. Me thinks you not a thinker at all, Mr. Thinker…

  57. Bully on August 11th, 2009 4:08 pm

    “The fool says to himself, there is no God”.

  58. xpeecee on August 11th, 2009 4:01 pm

    “Mr. Thinker” . You DID say that we are forced by law to attend public schools. I quote: “We are forced by law to attend public schools.” Please admit that you said that.

  59. Thinker on August 11th, 2009 3:22 pm

    In response to xpeecee: The government DOES force people to go to public school if they cannot afford to go to private school (or are not admitted because they are black). It’s the law. Ever hear to truancy laws?

    In reponse to AC: I’ll take that blow on the chin. I do get a little arrogant sometimes. But regarding that we all think for ourselves…no way…or maybe I should say to a greater and lesser degree. Then there’s the problem that about 50% of the people in North Escambia, FL and Escambia County, Alabama never graduated from high school. This is a fact…look it up. The ignorant will cause us to lose our freedoms, not the ACLU. The ignorant tend to want to participate in these battles but tend to follow “righteous” sounding leaders.
    I agree that a teacher should be allowed to say grace alone and bow his head if he wishes…BUT…on his own time, NOT during class time OR after obtaining an audience of students. I think this part of the issue will be ironed out in court in favor of Christian staff members. It’s these organized events in public schools that cause the backlash, were a prayer is said by leaders, etc. Contempt of Court is a judgment call. It may be determined to be unfounded here. We’ll see.

    In responses to QUEENTIPP: You might have something there, regarding a chapel in public schools as in a prison. You also seem to know more than I about the Muslim issue in public schools. That certainly is a problem for them, having to pray several times a day in their special way. Then there’s the uniform issue, head scarfs on women, etc. I’m so glad I’m just a good’ol’boy human with only a huge respect for Buddhism and some experience with its practice. Religion separates us from each other. I say, have you noticed?

  60. J. P. on August 11th, 2009 2:55 pm

    While I do not believe there should be a spacific faith or religion(Christian, Muslem, Jewish, atheist, etc.) .endorsed by the government, I do
    believe in the free RIGHT to express those beliefs. So long as it is done properly
    and in a respectful manner. This includes everyone including teachers and all
    government employees for that matter. To suppress that right to anyone would
    be discrimination. A qualified employee should not fear for his(her) job because
    of their beliefs simply because they practice their faith in public.

    I fear the time will soon come when the aclu will remove faith of any kind from OUR schools and courthouses. They will go futher by having the courts re-
    move that right from any government employee. This would include postal
    workers, military personel, law enforcement officers, prison guards, welfare
    workers, as well as welfare recipients, and of coarse people on social security.
    Then, if anyone is left, they will go after the tax payers.

    As our fearless leader, Barak Obama, says “we are not a Christian nation”.

  61. QUEENTIPP on August 11th, 2009 2:08 pm


  62. xpeecee on August 11th, 2009 12:14 pm

    Get your facts right, “Thinker”. The government does not force anyone to attend a public school. And why do you want to change something that has worked for a couple of hundred years? I used to call myself a thinker. If all thinkers think like you do, then I am no thinker. You must be an obama supporter. He “thinks” this is the best country in the world and wants to change it. Go figure… Ha!

  63. AC on August 11th, 2009 11:42 am

    To thinker:
    I agree with you that forced prayer should not be allowed anywhere. My point is the part of the article where it says “…but school employees are prohibited to participate in the prayer, even prohibited from ‘a posture or manner that is likely to be perceived as an endorsement of prayer, e.g. bowing their heads, kneeling or folding their hands’”. Are not these school officials US citizens? Do not they have the same individual rights and freedoms set forth in the Constitution as everyone else? Is not our courts violating the first amendment clause “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” when they threaten to arrest them for exercising their religion? Even if you are not Christian, even if you are athiest, or a Satanist; you should not stand idly by while ANY constitutional right is being trampled, whether you agree with it or not. Because when the Constitution becomes watered down, even a little, whether it is the 1st, 2nd, 4th, or whatever amendment, the whole document becomes watered down and ineffective. I am all for the rights of the athiestic students who are “forced” to go to public schools. But I am equally for the rights of the Christian faculty. Religion is not confined to the inner sactuary of a church, it follows a person in every aspect of his/her life. As far as the snake-handling and goat sacrificing comments; those things violate other laws because they put people or animals in danger. In this country everyone should have the right to do whatever they want as long as that action does not violate someone else’s rights, put others in danger of life or limb, or create public alarm. How does a teacher bowing their head do this (whatever their “intent”)? And by the way, I did not hear my minister say this and repeat it, I do have a mind of my own and can form my own opinions. I just don’t see that ability as something to be arrogant about as we all share that ability.

  64. AC on August 11th, 2009 11:12 am

    The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary:

    My confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to. In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’ In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said OK.Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’ Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace…
    My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully, Ben Stein

    In response to NHS student who compared this to DUI and said “… anyone dumb enough to help fund the defense of these two criminals should start a fund and donate to help defend drunk drivers…” The priciple difference between someone praying in school and driving drunk is obviously the risk. No one is getting hurt when someone prays, but drunk drivers kill and injure millions of people and put many more at risk. Has anyone ever FORCED you to pray? Didn’t think so. Has your life ever been in jeopardy because someone was praying? Didn’t think so. One day, when you grow up, you will realize that you must take a stand on things you believe in, even if some say it is wrong.

  65. T.R. on August 11th, 2009 11:11 am

    they need to to leave him alone there are real criminals out there that need to go to prison .Not some one who prays.

  66. Thinker on August 11th, 2009 10:59 am

    Intent…intent is a major issue in whether a law is broken. Bowing your head to say grace by yourself is surely your right. Praying silently or even out loud in a way that is not disruptive is your right. But once you organize then there certainly is intent possibly to disrupt, certainly to influence, etc. Public schools are owned by all citizens so let’s just make it a free-for-all…that’s what you’re demanding.
    We are forced by law to attend public schools. The “force” issue must be considered here. If I am forced to go where people exercise their religious beliefs in mass, then that makes the government (the forcer) subject be being liable to Constitutional violations. Take away the mandatory element and there’s no problem, except the problem of ignorance in the community.
    Also, where would you draw the line? What if I want to dance with snakes in school as some religious people do? What if I want to sacrifice a goat in school…get your Christian heads out of the sand, think for yourselves and wake up. School is for fact learning. Get along with others Christians, it’s supposed to be what your religion teaches you to do well. Being self-centered and paranoid is anti-social to say the least and that is what I see being exhibited by Christian pro-prayer supporters. A little moderation and common sense please. Don’t parrot and repeat, mindlessly, what your ministers tell you. Think.

  67. Prayer on August 11th, 2009 8:58 am

    And again, this time to the NHS student, before you cheer the ACLU on too much, and before you make that phone call, the ACLU is out to destroy more than just your religious freedoms, and when they finally get around to trying to take some other “freedom” away from YOU that you count as important, you will be screaming OUCH the loudest. Check into some of the cases they get involved in sometime…

  68. Prayin' Mama on August 11th, 2009 7:12 am

    NHS student, this is the respect issue I was refering to… why does it bother you so much that people want to practice their beliefs when they aren’t forcing you or any other student to participate? You would call th ACLU? That’s the “drama” I was refering to.

  69. EMD on August 11th, 2009 1:54 am

    Bravo, ■RW on August 10th, 2009 10:57 am

  70. EMD on August 11th, 2009 1:29 am

    As I read such thing, one thought goes through my mind over and over like a recording: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

  71. John on August 11th, 2009 12:59 am

    NHS student – “Ultra-religious”, huh? Well God Bless you! See you at church this Sunday.

  72. First Amendment on August 11th, 2009 12:35 am

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
    or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
    or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
    or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
    and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  73. tgtfgtftg on August 11th, 2009 12:17 am

    This is ridiculous charging people as if they had did a crime if they pray out loud. I pray with my family when we go out to eat AND AM VERY PROUD OF IT.
    I am proud of my faith, and those who choose not to pray at a meal don’t do it But leave us People who pray for our food alone cause we are just following a command from OUR God. I’m proud to serve.

  74. NHS student on August 10th, 2009 11:38 pm

    one last thought, anyone dumb enough to help fund the defense of these two criminals should start a fund and donate to help defend drunk drivers. that is against the law too but most people respect the law and follow it. this religious stuff is the same way. follow the law, and if you still want to give money to the fund there is a former top escambia school district employee who could have benifited from a dui defense fund. educators…

  75. NHS student on August 10th, 2009 11:24 pm

    these dumb fools. they try to teach students to follow rules but have trouble doing so themselves. typical of the self rightous ultra religious types in this area. they are always above the law and those rules don’t apply to them. get a grip on reality and follow the rules. I hope there is a serious punishment as this should be a lesson to all. if it goes on again this year at northview I will be the first one to call the ACLU as I am sick of it!

  76. Kristie Denny on August 10th, 2009 10:38 pm

    Culture of Islam…learning to be a Muslim, is being taught in California and Oregon government schools. I couldn’t find the official documentation online but have seen it in the past. Here’s a link to an interesting article on it.

  77. please clarify.... on August 10th, 2009 9:39 pm

    BarineauPark Dad said,

    “My wife keeps our little ones churched up and will until when and if they decide to no longer believe.”

    Thanks Mom! When they are old, they wont depart.

    Way to go Dad!!!!!

  78. John on August 10th, 2009 9:31 pm

    I support Frank Lay, all the way!!!!! AND Mr. Freeman! Good job men. Way to stand up for what is right, even if it did break the law. You WILL be rewarded by our father who art in heaven. Onward Christian soldiers! Don’t let the persecution bring you down! At least someone still has integrity, ethics, and morals around here!

  79. John on August 10th, 2009 9:26 pm

    Sounds like Barrineau Park dad needs the Lord. “Churched up”, huh? That’s what the problem is with our community and our nation. No believes in Jesus. No one is afraid because there isn’t a physical being standing in front of them. They think they can do whatever they want, say whatever they want. They use our constitution as a crutch. Let me tell you something folks, there WILL be a day that “EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue WILL confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!!” We need to get over ourselves, there IS a bigger being than us.

  80. BarrineauParkDad on August 10th, 2009 9:08 pm

    The law prohibits religious activities at school functions, which this apparently was. Therefore it should be clear that these men, knowingly or not, broke the law. Any school official should know the boundaries of their position and respect them, whether or not they like them. If in my job, I should decide I don’t like the boundaries (safety rules or environmental regulations) and ignore them, I would soon be unemployed.

    Like it or not, not everyone is a christian or even religious. Our Republic was designed to protect the minority from the mob rule of the majority.

    If you want your children to be religious, get up on Sunday and take them to church. You may also purchase them a bible and let them read it for themselves. Some of you may want to edit out all the sex, violence and bloodshed, as much of it is rated “R” at best. If you just have to have someone else tell them what to believe send them to the religious school of your choice.

    My wife keeps our little ones churched up and will until when and if they decide to no longer believe. When that day comes it will be of their own free will, until then no one has the right to preach their views to them unsolicited.

  81. Bryan Bethea on August 10th, 2009 9:02 pm

    Why do Christians feel that they must hold prayer services with sanction and participation from school staff? Does the inclusion of staff somehow make the prayer more valid? Will G-d not listen unless a principal, teacher, or football coach leads the prayer?

    I can recall attending Ernest Ward High School in the mid 1990s and every morning we had a ‘moment of silence’. That moment could be used for any type of reflection or prayer that a student personally chose to initiate. I am Jewish, not Christian. During those moments of silence I never felt pressured into believing in Jesus nor did I feel uncomfortable to see my classmates praying.

    The idea that prayer is not allowed in school is absurd. A student can pray any time he or she chooses to do so. There is no law and can be no law to prevent that. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that. What is wrong, however, is to require a student to participate in a religious exercise or to have people in positions of authority conducting religious services in a school setting. Doing so sends the message that the school and the school district endorse a particular religion.

    I read in some earlier comments that not having prayer in school is what is wrong with teenagers today. I disagree. The problem with teenagers today is a lack of parental guidance. Parents today use television, the Internet, and video games as a babysitter. When parents wake up and become involved in their childrens’ lives we will see a remarkable change in the way our teenagers behave and in the choices they make.

  82. mike on August 10th, 2009 8:24 pm

    “One nation, under god.” It does not specify which god. It does not discriminate, as does the ACLU. Simply, you have the choice to participate or Not! Let these men of honorable reputations and service to the community stand for what they believe in. It’s American…or have you forgotten?

    Where does the ACLU get off in dictating legislation? What happened to our rights as Christians? What has happened to our rights in general?

    Would you be interested in standing up for these men, the core of life in the middle of our century? Will you sign to petition on their behalf?

    Pray or not. It is your decision. Your inalieable right! But we cannot hang men for what they believe in… Absolutely not!

    I defer to the Constitution of these United States.

  83. Sherry (S.L.B) on August 10th, 2009 7:41 pm

    Unfortunately, I fear that situations such as this one will most likely get worse and not any better, as it’s just a matter of time before our right to be a christian will also be challanged, whereas one day being a christian will be ruled as a crime!

    As christians, we need to stay stong and steadfast in the Lord and hold onto our faith and beliefs that he will be by our sides in all of our upcoming battles.

    Mr.Lay and Mr. Freeman, know that all of the firm believing christians are here supporting your stand in honoring our Lord in prayer… meal or no meal!

    Man may forsake you, but the Lord never will!

  84. T.R. on August 10th, 2009 7:22 pm

    This is a total outrage Let them alone they did not commit any crimes.

  85. Suzanne Landry on August 10th, 2009 7:09 pm

    Principal Lay, I respect you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s a breath of fresh air to know there are still Christians out there who will stand up for God. Unfortunately, we cater to the minorities now. People don’t want to hurt other’s feelings, make them feel uncomfortable, etc. This is so ridiculous. Just know that you’re not alone. God is on your side–what else could you ask for?

  86. Tammie Dortch on August 10th, 2009 2:29 pm

    Ok William! My name is Tammie Dortch and I believe in God!

  87. xpeecee on August 10th, 2009 2:26 pm

    If you think we are “Sceered” now, Mr Wendt, wait a few years. If this country – and obamaites (ACLU, ACORN, etc.) – have their way, we would pay a heavy price for speaking against them or the things they stand for…

  88. RW on August 10th, 2009 2:20 pm

    I must respectfully disagree with your opinion that most of our founding fathers would disagree with the majority of views expressed here. While there is notable examples that some founding fathers were “Diests”, which has broad interpretations of the meaning thereof, the overwhelming majority were fundamentalist and devout Christians.

    Most would probably agree that mandatory prayer in school would be unconstitutional, but that is not the issue at hand. Nowhere is it mandatory that students pray to a certain diety in a certain way. That’s my whole point, no one is being forced into any religion, but some are being prohibited from worship, which IS a direct violation of the US Constitution’s 1st amendment. If the schools were forcing student’s to participate in religious practices under threat of penalty, then I would be the first to say that it was wrong. But that is not what is happening. Let me give another example:

    If I, as a police officer, go into a restaurant on my lunch break and bow my head in silent prayer, should I be arrested? I am a government representative. What if I go in there with some of my Christian cop buddies and we all bow our heads and pray over our food? Should we all be arrested. Isn’t that a violation of MY 1st amendment rights? Why shouldn’t I be able to worship the same way as everyone else? I am an American citizen, the same as these school officials. Now if I arrested you because you did not bow your head, then I would be violating your rights, but again, that isn’t the issue at hand.

    Also the reason that the “…majority would consider themselves the weak and down trodden in this debate when they are the majority…” is because our democracy is being taken away from us. No longer does the majority rule. We, as a nation, are so afraid that we are going to “offend” someone, that the minority now rules the majority in most cases.

  89. concerned on August 10th, 2009 2:10 pm

    It is amazing how a teacher, student or school employee can use profanity, or break any other rule and they are most of the time slapped on the wrist and it seems to be no big deal. When a person prays over a meal or anytime, he or she is not forcing anyone to pray they are praying themselves, why is it such a big deal????

  90. William Wendt on August 10th, 2009 2:09 pm

    The Santa Rosa School System is considered by most leaders in the state as a “model” school system for other counties to follow. Northwest Florida has the best schools in the state and I dare say the country. Each person should ask themselves why that is. Is this just fate? Did we just get lucky? I dare say that it is because of teachers with conviction that actually stood for something and became teachers not for a paycheck but for the chance to mentor and guide students to be all that they can be and let nothing stop or hinder their dreams. Books do not educate children. People educate and mentor other people. This doesn’t just end at the teacher’s doors. We are all teachers! What did you teach someone today???
    .As a product of the SRC School system, we were taught integrity, ethics, and right and wrong. That also included a great education to take with us to make our lives better and to help each other along the way. Thanks Mr. Lay!

    I’ve read all the posts. I have seen all the opinions. A great debate is healthy. I was taught that if anything was worth saying, put your name behind it. We all should start posting who we really are and not hide behind a screen name. I dare say there wouldn’t be as many posts!

    If you Sceered, say you sceered!!! The rest of the readers want to know who you are……

  91. Jack Sheffield on August 10th, 2009 1:34 pm

    I just want to say I think it’s time that all of this country’s God fearing & Loving people stand up for our beleifs and rights. This country was founded on the rights of Religion and Freedom from Taxation. We are even worse off in this country today than the countries that our founders were escaping from when this contry began. I do not wish to step on everyone else’s Religion but I don’t want them imposing their way of life on me either. I am entitled to worship my God as I want to or else you are discriminating against my rights and that is just as evil.

    I love my God and he is mightier than anything this world can throw at me. I will not be swayed by those out there trying to take my rights away from me, Especially my God. He is all mighty ! And he will be the one that they answer to when judgement day comes. The following is for you Non Beleivers.

    First God, I want to say Thank You for being in my Life. God I love you and ask you to reach into the hearts of these poor lost souls and help them to see the light of thy love before it’s too late. You are all powerful ! In the name of your son Jesus, AMEN !

  92. Darryl on August 10th, 2009 1:10 pm

    Unfortunately, not all of the founding fathers would agree with the majority view now being expressed about religion and the government. Some of them actually had some harsh things to say, but as to the separation of church and state, the exact wording isn’t in the Constitution but the first amendment, as posted, does say government will not establish a religion, and thus the issue of a public institution doing a religious act that is not seen equally by all. Also, it is odd that majority would consider themselves the weak and down trodden in this debate when they are the majority, and those that post a different view are the minority and based on the same constitution, have the same rights…or suppose to.

    Something to consider:
    Keep in mind, some states, prior to the nation’s constitution, had in their constitution specific references to Jesus, Christianity, etc. but when it came time to ratify the nation’s all those references were not included. It is also interesting to note that the Baptist of the time, being a minority religion in one state supported this secular nature of the country’s document, for to do otherwise who have been to their detriment.

  93. nwe reader on August 10th, 2009 1:03 pm

    Yeah!! RW, that is exactly what I was trying to say!!! And I agree with Judy about Obama. I can’t believe we are allowing someone of the very religion that caused such pain and destruction in our country to even run for President, much less win!! I hasn’t been that long since 9/11 happened.

  94. xpeecee on August 10th, 2009 12:51 pm

    Well stated, RW.

  95. mousewife on August 10th, 2009 12:36 pm

    Our forefathers came to America so we all could have the freedom to pray and worship. All people do not pray or worship the same God. To those that pray offends them then they need to go back from wherever they came from. I go to town and the way people dresses might offend me but I don’t sit and complain about it and all other things should be the same. If something offends you stay away from it. Prayer has never harmed anyone but I can assure you if you have had trouble or distress it has only helped.

  96. NN on August 10th, 2009 12:10 pm

    Well said, RW. I agree. There is so much in this world about which to be concerned. I can’t believe there are groups of people whose sole purpose
    in life is to lie in wait and pounce on someone who bows his/her head and prays. What will we denounce next–the way someone dresses as a result
    of his/her religious beliefs? Wouldn’t that also influence our “free-thinking
    students” as well, Thinker?

  97. judy on August 10th, 2009 12:09 pm

    RW…compelling and insightful comments along w/ various substantial examples of how religious tolerance should be viewed…its not rocket science…

  98. judy on August 10th, 2009 11:50 am

    ive NEVER liked the ACLU…AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION… be interested in finding out just HOW this organization is funded…im not positive, but i believe that our president is somehow associated w/them, in some form or fashion…pres obama is a lawyer, ACLU is, in great part, made up of alot of yuppy lawyers…and, pres obama holds some of the same liberal ideas as the ACLU…i just hope that not ONE red cent of MY tax dollars (from the stimulus monies) was directed to that highly annoying organization……i just wish that theyd go find a tiny island in the south pacific AND STAY THERE!…S.L.B comments were right on!!

  99. nwe reader on August 10th, 2009 11:24 am

    I’m confused. Doesn’t every religion have its on way of praying? What happened to FREEDOM OF RELIGION? Now I’m not going to sit here and try to use fancy words or qoute scripture or pretend that I know anything about politics. I am just an ordinary person, that believes in GOD and prayer. What’s wrong with it? How many people could there actually be out there that do not believe in prayer? I’m just saying, when I was in school I can remember there was a kid who was a Jahovahs Witness… when we had Christmas plays and things like that, he was excused from participating. He was cool with it. He had really nice parents and they respected the way things were and we respected them for their beliefs.

  100. RW on August 10th, 2009 10:57 am

    The first amendment of the US Constitution states:
    “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ”
    Nowhere in the Constitution does the phrase “separation of church and state” appear. This phrase was later coined by the courts in an interpretation of the first amendment.
    I fail to see how prayer in schools is in any way construed as Congress establishing a religion. Or, as AC pointed out, how a school official bowing his/her head in even a silent prayer is violating anyone’s first amendment rights.
    Also, one should not confuse “freedom of religion” with “freedom from religion”. Just because you may not like the way I worship, does not mean that I must not worship in public just because it may offend you, the same way that your worship may “offend” me. I may not agree with the Muslim faith, for example, but I am not offended when they bow toward Mecca at a certain time because that’s what their religion dictates. As long as I’m not forced to do it, as I would be in some countries, and I am free to choose how, or if, I worship; then no one’s rights have been violated. I am not offended when I see Jews praying or participating in a Jewish rite. I am not offended when Scientologists (like Tom Cruise, Kirsta Alley, etc.) get on TV talk shows and promote their religion. Because we live in America where I am not forced to partcipate. Why are you offended when I bow my head in prayer? You are not forced to participate. You will not go to jail if you do not worship a certain diety in a certain way. But now you WILL go to jail if you do worship a certain Diety in public!?! It doesn’t make sense. This is not freedom of religion when I do not have the freedom to worship my God, just because a small faction of people do not agree with my religion.

  101. Jason Wade Cox on August 10th, 2009 10:41 am

    If you people don’t get off your butts ( and your wallets) and vote against the leaders that endorse this more will be taken from us. Our country was started by pilgrims that wanted to worship in peace. Now this has been taken from our children.
    Don’t give me the whole ” I don’t get involved in politics” your actually saying, here take my money , my freedom, and my life. Make a choice, will Jesus have your soul or have you given it to the ruling class ?

  102. Elizabeth on August 10th, 2009 10:14 am

    As a former Pace High student…

    I hate to see this happen to these men. Mr. Lay is such a caring and compassionate man. He always treated every student, even problem students, with respect. I firmly believe that Pace is the excellent school that it is today because of Mr. Lay’s leadership.

    Mr. Freeman was the person who gave me my driver’s test. He almost failed me! :-0 I remember when he got married to his wife! Ah, memories.

    You said:
    “I can ‘almost’ understand that they are not allowed to pray out loud because it might offend someone, but now the ACLU is prohibiting them from their own freedom of religion.”

    Doesn’t it remind you of when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to stand up against Nebuchadnezzar? Let’s pray that God delivers these men like he’s delivered Godly men of old.

  103. Prayer on August 10th, 2009 10:04 am

    To thinker….Before you cheer the ACLU on too much, it’s not just religious freedoms that are being threathened by them, it’s a lot of your other freedoms, too. And it just might be some that you don’t want to let go of, what then?
    And Darryl, I have to question where you got your information about out founding fathers.

  104. Prayin' Mama on August 10th, 2009 9:44 am

    I personally think this is the most exciting thing that’s happened in our school system in a long time. I hope the people who contribute to this cause will also be willing to stand up (as these men have) and let the ACLU know that we don’t want to be pushed around anymore. It’s going to take alot to make a difference but there are still enough people around to do it, we just need to get off the couch and move.

    I think God will bless our schools just for the effort and with God all things are possible.

    Just another thought; I teach my two children to respect others and not to condem anyone for their choices, if you don’t agree or feel comfortable just step aside, get away, find something else to do, whatever you need but you don’t have to start running your mouth and (as the kids say) “causin’ drama” and we do understand that RESPECT is what we need here. Try it sometime and maybe we can get the government out of our business.

  105. AC on August 10th, 2009 9:40 am

    What disturbs me the most about this whole thing is that school officials are prohibited from “a posture or manner that is likely to be perceived as an endorsement of prayer, e.g. bowing their heads, kneeling or folding their hands”. I can “almost” understand that they are not allowed to pray out loud because it might offend someone, but now the ACLU is prohibiting them from their own freedom of religion. I have been taught, like most Christians, to say grace over my food before I eat. But these people can be arrested for bowing their head and saying a silent prayer over their food!?! This is a blatant assault on THEIR 1st amendment rights. This is in no way “Congress making a law establishing a religion” but it is “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”!

  106. justsaying on August 10th, 2009 9:25 am

    It seems that Pace High wants to make up it’s own rules. If the courts say stop and they don’t agree with the ruling they say “let’s fight it”. This is not something that can be won. They are not going to be able to take their case to the Supreme Court and win. They can try, and yes they will make a point but it will not change their current situation. If Pace is so concerned about their right to pray and the whole community is behind it, why not build their own private school and petition the government to pay for it since they wouldn’t be paying for the students who would be in public school. Then they could worship as they please which is their right. It is also the right of Jews, Muslims, Hindu, agnostics, atheists to not have to be surrounded by a Christian culture at taxpayers expense. Why can’t all of these groups have the same opportunity for their prayers too? Because it is illegal in PUBLIC schools..

    Build your own school, practice your own religion, and follow the constitution,, unless you don’t like it of course.

  107. xpeecee on August 10th, 2009 9:25 am

    Whether you want to admit it or not, this country was founded on the belief that God would keep it together. That is a fact. Remove Christianity – destroy the country … simple.

  108. Thinker on August 10th, 2009 9:10 am

    I think the question and the issue, that is so often ignored (or tactically played down) by pro-prayer-in-schools people is: Why is it so important that the prayer be organized, spoken aloud and led by some school or church official? That clearly makes it an ostracizing event to young, impressionable students of other, or no religious faith.
    Certainly God can hear your prayers when said in silence in your mind, or he can certainly wait until Sunday to hear them in your churches. It isn’t God you’re praying to, it’s free-thinking students you’re trying to influence.
    What is obvious is that this is a movement to grab power, not save souls. That’s what scares and angers non-Christians and many Christians alike.
    I direct this comment directly to any teenager that tries to think for themselves. School is for schooling – Church is for “God”. Three cheers for the ACLU !!!

  109. S.L.B on August 10th, 2009 9:02 am

    Instigator….I do not know who you are, but to say you are Jewish (who I have always been taught were the chosen people) and then say the things that you have said about this subject is just flabbergasting to me.

    I have always thought to myself, that it would have been the most awesome thing in the world to have walked with Jesus back in his day and to have had that connection that the Jewish people shared with him. What a blessing that would have been. But since I didn’t, a relationship with him through the way I live my life and through prayer is as close as I can get, for now.

    I just don’t understand how you can condem prayer itself to take place anywhere at anytime and say that you are Jewish. I don’t care if you are saying a prayer in a holy temple or while your getting a shower. Prayer is our connection to our heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ and they listen to us at anytime and anywhere we should need them. They are not predjudiced!

    Without prayer, I wouldn’t make it through all the trials and tribulations sent my way on a almost daily basis. And believe me, their are getting to be more and more with each waking day to deal with!

    As a Jewish follower, I would think you should be lifting people up as Jesus would, not bringing them down to the ACLU’s level!

  110. God help us! on August 10th, 2009 8:58 am

    Thank God we’re able to homeschool our children. The public school situation is becoming very frightening to me!
    I’m really sorry for all of the teachers & students whose constitutional rights are being taken away to accomodate a few people. Our family is praying for these men & their families—-yes, I said PRAYING & I’m not ashamed of that!
    Through these two men, we see that there ARE some “Daniels” left in the world & we’re behind them 100%!

  111. CurtisC on August 10th, 2009 8:53 am

    It’s sad to see this type of discrimination and disrespect leveled at our children’s educators. No matter what religious faith a person holds, or doesn’t, it shouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable to have someone pray for them, around them or even within ear shot of them, unless there is a reason for them to feel guilty or upset. The right to pray in public is a right given in the Constitution as it is a form of speech, and if hearing a prayer makes one uncomfortable maybe they would be best served by finding out what makes them react that way, call it a conscience, inner voice, imbued spirit, whatever, the reason that a prayer offends is not that it is harmful or defamatory to a person but that it points out that each one of us needs a relationship with a higher power, I personally converse with God through the Holy Spirit that was received when I accepted Christ in my heart . Atheists, agnostics and persons deeply rooted in faiths other than Christianity shouldn’t have a reason to be offended by any prayer unless that were true, because as far as most in the ACLU are concerned, God is nothing more than a fairy tale, but I can’t remember the last time I got upset listening to Snow White or Cinderella. Tolerance is a two way street and anyone opposed to prayers in, at, or around school should realize that no one is out to harm them when they pray.

  112. Thinker on August 10th, 2009 8:46 am

    The Christian pro-prayer in schools movement does not, nor do they wish to understand The Constitution Of The United States Of America. They, along with their leaders and other anti-American powers could very well lead to the distruction of this country…

  113. Darryl on August 10th, 2009 8:44 am

    Regarding religion, I know many of us have either in the past or currently, hold very strong opinions about what we should believe. Anyone who can stand to have their opinion challenged a little should read “Jesus Interrupted” by Bart Ehrman. Ehrman teaches theology at UNC.

    Amazon link to book:

  114. L>G> on August 10th, 2009 8:43 am

    I PRAY for Frank Lay and Robert Freeman in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that God’s blessing will flow from haven above to these two men……………and our nation!

  115. Darryl on August 10th, 2009 8:41 am

    In response to: “You call yourself Jewish and you have a problem with prayer in schools? Jesus was a Jew, how do you think he would respond?”

    Wow. I’m afraid not as many of us in the US would like to think. This issue regarding the government not establishing any religion is based on the premise that all people have the right to their own faith and beliefs, and the founding fathers understood all too well what happens when a government establishes one religion within its frame work. The battle between Catholics and Protestants in Great Britain, the Inquisition in Italy, France and Spain, which was mostly aimed at Christians who did not worship as the Catholic Church deemed appropriate. This was especially cruel and immoral act of the Church, since less than 10% of the population could read and depending on the church to teach them.

    As to the founding fathers, some were Deist, which was a belief that refused to accept Jesus as divine and any written document as being from God. Those who held these beliefs were Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Adams, and Paine. No light weights in the this group. So it is an emotional issue, but the bottom line is our government is suppose to be set up so that even the minority is treated equally in the eyes of the law.

  116. S.L.B on August 10th, 2009 8:37 am

    It’s a sad day when now you cannot even bless a meal in a prayer at a school related event. What’s next ACLU, you going to take offense at those publically blessing a meal in restaraunts too?

    I think the ACLU orginization is made up of athiest myself, because if they were God fearing people as Christians are, they wouldnt be making such a stink over this and other related issues that show respect to our maker, meal or no meal.

    No matter what you think non-believers, you will never win the victory, because in the end, our Lord is an awesome God and his power is the most powerful of all!

  117. Tara on August 10th, 2009 8:33 am

    Read the other story of the two teachers that had sex with their students. That should tell you that EXTREME prayer of ANY and ALL type needs to be in schools!!!

  118. Laura Taylor on August 10th, 2009 8:08 am

    I offer my support and prayers to all who support prayer in schools and wherever prayer is needed! If people don’t believe, don’t pray! Keep your mouths shut and let the rest of us pray if we want to.

  119. Prayer on August 10th, 2009 7:46 am

    When it all comes right down to it, “Prayer” is the only thing any of us, including the ACLU, is going to have when it’s all said and done.

  120. Concerned About What Is Happening on August 10th, 2009 7:28 am


    The main point that seems to be lost in the debate on “separation of church and state” is that while it is correct to insure that prayer and references to God are not made mandatory or that students are not forced to participate, it is just as important (or more so) to insure that the right to pray or exhibit religious beliefs is not taken away from those who wish to do so. That was the intent of the original plan. One of the key issues that led to the establishment of this country as a “Free Nation” was the need to believe and worship as one saw fit.

    By your own words, your children were not forced to participate in the prayer and were not forced to stay in the room; they left the area and returned to you. If you or your children had started a Jewish prayer (or however the Jewish show their religion, I am sorry I am not familiar with the Jewish faith) I expect the other children would have the freedom to not participate and I would hope that they would have been taught the common courtesy to not disrupt your activity. While I do not share your beliefs, I do defend your right to believe and to worship as you see fit or in the case of Atheists, to not worship as they see fit.

    It is time for our government (Legislature and Courts) and our citizens to realize that forcing the removal of prayer and the reference to God from schools is against the fundamental basis of separation of church and state. As long as it is optional, it should be allowed and the right to have prayer or show ones religious beliefs should be defended as is the right of free speech that we hold so dearly. Many patriots have fought and died and are still fighting and dying to protect these rights.

  121. concerned on August 10th, 2009 7:25 am

    You call yourself Jewish and you have a problem with prayer in schools? Jesus was a Jew, how do you think he would respond?

  122. tim on August 10th, 2009 7:18 am

    to the jewish writer i thank God for jewish people they God people but we need prayer back in the school that what wong now we the teens they dont no how to pray. it maybe lighting a candles bowing their heads or however they pray. we all have that right to pray

  123. xpeecee on August 10th, 2009 6:42 am

    The ACLU does not, nor do they wish to understand The Constitution Of The United States Of America. They, along with Obama and other anti-American powers could very well lead to the distruction of this country…

  124. INSTIGATOR on August 10th, 2009 6:33 am

    a school official was actually included in the group

  125. INSTIGATOR on August 10th, 2009 6:32 am

    prayer does not belong in school settings it makes people of differing faiths uncomfortable. being jewish i was at back to school open house. a church group went together to open house and were lighting candles in the hahh of the school and asking jesus for whatever. my children went out of their class where they were meeting their teacher to see their friends who were with the group and came running back into the classroom where i was still talking to the teacher and they were upset . they said “theyre praying out in the hall” they didnt want to go back in the hall

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