Pulling of “Prayer” Posters in Classroom Results in 1st Amendment Lawsuit



A public high school in Virginia is being sued for removing prayer-themed posters from a Christian teacher's classroom wall while he was out sick for several days last fall.

A poster promoting the National Day of Prayer and depicting George Washington praying at Valley Forge, and a picture of President George W. Bush praying were among the items school officials confiscated from Spanish teacher William Lee's classroom at Tabb High School in Yorktown. Even a small cross in a display about a former student was cut out with scissors and thrown away by the school while Lee was out.

Lee's attorney, John Whitehead with the Rutherford Institute, says York County school officials wrongly claim the prayer posters violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

“The problem with most school officials is they forget that there are other rights that are in the Bill of Rights that counterbalance the so-called separation of church and state,” the attorney says, “and that's our rights to free speech, freedom of religion, [and] to be treated equally under the law.”

Lee had also put up posters of the Peruvian Inca sun god festival and Mayan creature gods — things often discussed in his Spanish class. However, those religious items were not removed.

“Anything that was related to Christianity was removed, [but] with the other religions, they were kept up on the wall. So we felt this was just a clear act of discrimination by school authorities,” Whitehead explains.

He adds that trying to negotiate with the school brought no results. “We tried to talk with the school [and ask them] to please put the posters back up; they refused to do it,” the attorney says. “So we filed our lawsuit, alleging the key rights of freedom of speech and equal protection under the law for the teacher here. We just think they went too far here.”

Whitehead has filed the lawsuit in the eastern district of Virginia on behalf of Lee, who is the faculty advisor to “First Priority,” an approved Christian extracurricular club on campus.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press.)

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