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School bans bible club prayer box

A western New York public school district ordered the advisor of a student Bible club to remove a prayer request box

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Jan 14, 2013 9:09PM

The argument over what role, if any, religion can play in the classroom resurfaced this week in a western New York public school district, reports Fox News. The ‘rights to free speech’ debate came into play when the adviser of a student Bible club was ordered to remove a prayer request box because it was an alleged violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Photo: Plush Studios/Getty ImagesThe prayer box was mounted on a wall in veteran science teacher, Joelle Silver’s classroom. Students were able to place prayer requests inside that later, members of the Bible club would offer to God.

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“The placement of that box in your classroom is especially problematic because it is too easily perceived as the District endorsing or lending support to religion, which is a violation of the Establishment Clause, wrote Dennis Kane, superintendent of the Cheektowaga Central School District in an 8-page letter to the teacher. “Your rights to free speech and expression are not as broad as if you were simply a private citizen,” she was informed.

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Silver, also a sponsor of the high school’s Bible club, filed a federal lawsuit against the school district alleging they violated her civil rights after they forced her to remove anything that had a religious reference from her classroom including posters and inspirational sticky notes, reports Fox News.

“When they launched the investigation, the literally went through her classroom with a fine-tooth comb and removed anything that had anything to do with Christianity,” Silver’s attorney, Robert Muise told Fox News. “I’ve never seen anything like that. Ms. Silver does not cease being a Christian nor does she shed her constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”

“They are literally cleansing the classroom of any reference to religion,” he told Fox News. “They are doing it under this nonsense that there’s a wall of separation between church and state.”

“In God We Trust is our national motto for goodness sake,” Muise was quoted. “We are a nation that was founded by religious refugees for the purposes of exercising our religious liberties. This is a Judeo-Christian nation.”

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Photo: Plush Studios/Getty Images

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