The badly misnamed Liberty Counsel is sending a guidebook to every public school in the country that informs them of what the law says — or at least what they imagine the law says — when it comes to church/state issues. The Worldnutdaily is promoting the project:
Every public school in America is about to receive a wake-up call that will eliminate any excuse for stomping on students’ and teachers’ religious liberty…
But now Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, has announced it is sending 99,750 copies – one for literally every public school in America – of an exhaustive guide on religious liberty in school to principals, vice principals and school administrators around the country. Thousands of sponsors have made the mass mailing possible.
“Over the past few years, Liberty Counsel has seen a surge of complaints from school administrators, educators and students, whose rights were egregiously violated,” said the organization in a statement. “Secular activists attempt to remove religious expression from our public schools, indoctrinate students in alternative lifestyles and bully through intimidation and blatant misrepresentation. To be proactive in countering this growing threat, Liberty Counsel developed and distributed the ‘Patriot’s Handbook of Religious Freedom in Public Schools.’
“This booklet,” the organization explains, “clarifies the rights of students to pray, form Bible clubs and engage in religious expression in public schools, including holiday celebrations and the rights of teachers, parents and guardians.” …
Liberty Counsel’s goal in distributing the “Patriot’s Handbook of Religious Freedom in Public Schools” is to dramatically reduce the number of instances when school administrators erroneously censor or punish religious expression. By having the guidebook in hand or on file, the organization hopes, schools will look to sound advice on protecting religious liberty when confronted by activist organizations that demand students, teachers or community groups be silenced.
I haven’t read the guide, so I have no idea how accurate it is; given LC’s terrible record of dishonesty on such issues, I’d be willing to bet it’s got some real problems. But I also predict that it won’t do any good. You see, this is not a new idea. In the mid-90s, the ACLU got together with a couple dozen other organizations, including religious right legal groups, put together a similar publication and sent it to every public school in America. The Clinton administration did the same thing. Yet we still see frequent violations of both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. In my experience, this usually happens because of ignorance on the part of administrators or ideological zealotry on the part of school boards.