Pennsylvania school drops 'God bless America' after parent says it violates the US Constitution
An elementary school in Pennsylvania will no longer say "God bless America" after the Pledge of Allegiance. The move follows a legal complaint that was filed to the district on behalf of a parent who claimed that saying the phrase amounted to the government sponsoring religious messages.
The principal of Sabold Elementary School in Springfield, Peter Brigg, reportedly used to say the prayer after reciting the allegiance pledge over the loudspeaker. The parent filed a complaint to the Freedom From Religion Foundation whose attorney sent a letter to the district complaining that announcing the expression publicly violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition of government sponsoring religious messages.
The foundation said: "God Bless America’ is a prayer… A Prayer hosted by a publicly supported school does not pass constitutional muster."
The district consulted its lawyer and, considering the argument's legitimacy, it decided to stop the practice.
A statement was released by the district on Friday in which it confirmed receiving a complaint about reciting the words “God Bless America” over the loudspeaker. The district further added that it would immediately cease the practice, according to CBS Pittsburgh.
“In accordance with District protocol, this complaint was forwarded to our District Solicitor's Office. Based on the Solicitor's legal research and recommendation, we ceased this practice. Continuation of any practices that may be unlawful would only expose the District to litigation, which the local taxpayers would have to financially support,” the statement from the district read.
The district also added that it never changed the recitation of the allegiance pledge and that the students would continue to be able to say "God Bless America" after the recitation if they wanted to do so.
“We understand that this is an important topic for many of our constituents; however, please understand that the District does not make the law. We follow it," the statement added.