Friday, December 14, 2007

Report on ACLU Vs Wilson County


I went downtown to the Federal Building yesterday and today where we hold some of our protests to hear the case of ACLU vs Wilson County. On day one of the lawsuit today I was only able to stay for the first few minutes, but I think the turnout was good. There were about six of us and about ten of them in the courtroom. The lawsuit itself was represented by a couple who is suing Wilson county schools and the ACLU with Hedy Weinberg and the ACLU lawyers, so they are getting really good representation.

I spoke with Bruce Barry who is the ACLU president in Nashville and he told me that Wilson County Public Schools had actually made a lot of changes after the concerns of the parents were brought to them, but he said that the defendants in the lawsuit are being represented by a rightwing national group that is pushing for the lawsuit.

So he was basically saying that the Wilson County Public School System had actually made proposed changes but that a national group that works for issues like a national day of prayer and prayer in the schoo ls is really the agency behind this lawsuit, along with a few extremely motivated christians who want to bring the suit to trial.

This is why the lawsuit wasn't settled when the ACLU met with the Wilson County Schools last night. Anyways, the press was there including all the print media and several news cameras and I think they were looking pretty realistically at the situation and doing a good job of reporting the issues.

So then I went to the second and final day of the ACLU vs Wilson County suit and ran into a couple of atheist friends. There weren't as many Americans United people in attendance today and there were a lot more of the "praying parents" there today. The testimony today consisted mostly of interviews with members of the "praying parents" and not a lot of cross examination by the ACLU. Basically the Praying Parents is a group that is a local chapter of the "National Day of Prayer" and they are also a local chapter of "Prayer at the Pole" also known as "See You at the Pole."

What the "Praying Parents" do is they gather once a month at the school and they pray for the school and for the government and for President Bush in the morning before school starts. They meet on the school grounds in the cafeteria and they pray. Then they take flyers and put them in all of the teachers boxes. The flyers talk about the Praying Parents and also encourages the teachers to pass the word to other parents about the "Praying Parents."

They also put up posters around the school about the "Praying Parents" and they put up posters about the "National Day of Prayer" and "Pray Around the Pole" once a year respectively. They also come into the school about ten times a month as "teachers helpers."

In addition they list their organization in the PTO monthly newsletter which is sent out once a month.

They claim that they are being discriminated against and that they are basically the same as the cub scouts and that the ACLU and these activist parents are discriminating against them and preventing them from exercising their rights. The principal agrees with them.

Additionally they believe that the Thanksgiving pageant should mention God and why Thanksgiving is about God and that the Christmas pageant should be about the baby Jesus because it is historical and part of our culture.

The ACLU is seeking an injunction from the "Praying Parents" actively distributing flyers and posters on campus and using the school grounds to host their "Praying Parents" meetings. The judge closed the trial and issued notice that he would release his ruling sometime after January 7th.

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