Liberty Counsel Sues Santa Rosa School District for Hostility to Religious Expression

Pensacola, FL – Tomorrow, May 4, 2010, Liberty Counsel will be on the steps of the federal courthouse in Pensacola for a rally and press conference at 5:00pm Central Time, after filing a major, comprehensive lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County School District and its Superintendent, Timothy S. Wyrosdick, for their persistent and widespread violations of First Amendment rights. The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of two dozen individuals, including teachers, staff, students, former students, parents, volunteers and pastors, all of whom have been silenced, censored, intimidated or harassed by the school district and its partner, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Many of the clients represented by Liberty Counsel will be on hand for the press conference at 1 North Palafox Street, Pensacola, Florida.

As a result of a Consent Decree drafted by the ACLU, agreed to by the school district, and entered by a federal court, legitimate religious expression, such as voluntary, student-initiated prayers or off-the-clock religious discussion among adults, has been criminalized and made extinct in the schools of Santa Rosa County. Students can no longer say “God Bless,” teachers must hide in closets to pray, parents cannot communicate frankly with teachers, volunteers cannot answer any questions regarding religion, Christian groups cannot rent school facilities for private religious functions benefiting students, and pastors are dictated how they can and cannot seat their audiences at private, religious baccalaureate services held inside their own houses of worship.

Initially, Liberty Counsel offered free consultation to the school district, but the school district decided instead to shake hands with the ACLU, pay the ACLU $200,000 in legal fees, and voluntarily enter into the Consent Decree that obliterates religious freedom and makes a mockery out of the First Amendment. Three school officials have since faced civil and criminal contempt charges at the hands of the ACLU and the school district. 

Horatio Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, commented: “This Consent Decree and the school district’s policies that emanate from it are an insult to the First Amendment. Religious speech and expression are not constitutional orphans. I experienced repression of my religious speech when I lived in Romania, the country of my birth. I never expected to encounter such hostility to Christian viewpoints in America as I have seen engineered by the ACLU in Santa Rosa County. We intend to change this picture.”

Courtesy of

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