A New Jersey school has decided to stop its tradition of saying “God bless America” after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the practice unconstitutional.
According to Todd Starnes of Fox News, Glenview Elementary School in Haddon Heights, New Jersey began a tradition of gathering students on the playground to recite the Pledge of Allegiance after the September 11 terrorist attacks. At the end of the recitation, the teachers led the students in saying, “God bless America.”
Glenview principal Sam Sassano said the recitation was completely voluntary, and if a student chose not to participate, he or she was allowed to stand by quietly.
However, this was not enough for the ACLU, according to Starnes.
The organization claims that encouraging students to say “God bless America” violates the Establishment Clause.
“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from not only favoring one religion over another, but also from promoting religion over non-religion,” wrote ACLU-NJ director Ed Barocas in a letter to the school district’s attorney. “The greatest care must be taken to avoid the appearance of governmental endorsement in schools, especially elementary schools, given the impressionable age of the children under the school’s care and authority.”
Sassano regrets that the students will no longer be able to keep their patriotic tradition, but says the school made the decision in order to avoid a costly lawsuit.
Parents of students who attend Glenview are upset.
Debi Krezel whose sixth-grade daughter attends the school stated, ““I don’t think it’s fair to us or our children. What are they going to take from us next? We are slowly chipping away the values and beliefs and traditions that (the nation) was created upon.”
Photo courtesy: pixabay.com
Publication date: January 6, 2016