School board reinstates student suspended for saying "God bless"
The top story in St. Louis today is that James Lord has been reinstated as the closed-circuit television reader of the daily bulletin at Dupo High School in nearby Dupo, Illinois. Lord's crime? Signing off his December 17 broadcast with "Have a safe and happy holiday, and God bless."
"The purpose of the [morning broadcast] is to read the daily bulletin," Principal Jonathan Heerboth had explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We can't allow one person to use school time to express any personal religious beliefs … we're not going to turn loose our school forum."
School superintendent Michael Koebel agreed, saying Lord had no right to utter such a statement. "If you go off school grounds you're certainly welcome to use your First Amendment rights and stand on a box and say anything you'd like," he told television station KSDK (which has video of the initial broadcast and last night's board meeting).
After his suspension, which was set to end Sunday, Lord issued a news release, distributed more than 400 flyers asking community members to attend a school board meeting, and hired lawyers with the American Center for Law and Justice to plead his case. The case attracted national media attention.
ACLJ lawyer Francis Manion says the case wasn't really a matter of religious freedom. Saying "God bless" is "simply like saying Gesundheit," he said. "I mean it is not necessarily a religious statement."
Last night, the school board reinstated Lord to the "Tiger's Eye News."
"School Board President Brian Thompson said Lord has agreed to not make 'God bless' a staple of the show, but that the School Board doesn't have a problem with an occasional 'God bless' over the air," reports ...1
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