"The Alliance Defense Fund sent a letter Friday to Clay County School District officials informing them that voluntary faculty participation in a community-led, before-school prayer event is protected by the First Amendment despite the objections of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The letter also explains that a school principal’s internal newsletter, which mentioned the event, is also constitutionally protected.
“Christian faculty acting in their private capacities do not lose their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The Constitution guards the right of staff to participate in the voluntary prayer event just as other community members can. The inclusion of the event in the newsletter that the principal circulated is also fully protected. Neither amount to an endorsement of religion by the school in any way, shape, or form.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the School District of Clay County on Oct. 11 demanding cancellation of a weekly, community-led “Prayer Around the Flagpole” event at Clay Hill Elementary School that occurs before class time and is not sponsored by the school.
The letter also objected to Principal Larry Davis’s mention of the event in his internal newsletter. The newsletter, which he calls “The Bark,” also mentioned several other events and announcements of interest to school faculty and staff, the only recipients of the newsletter. The newsletter is not circulated to students.