Every president since Nixon has used the phrase as a way to sign off on important speeches. For most of us, it hearkens back to the Irving Berlin song of the same name. For at least one Florida high school, however, it has joined the many “religious” things you can’t say in school. A student at Yulee High School in Nassau County has been disciplined for using the phrase at the end of the morning announcements.
Because someone is always offended by something, two atheist students felt their right to not believe in God was somehow infringed upon by the phrase. One wonders if these students will ever be able to use legal tender in good conscience. They took their grievance to an atheist group called the American Humanist Association and demanded satisfaction. The group, smelling an opportunity to rile up some publicity, was all too happy to jump on the case.
“It is inappropriate and unlawful for a public school to start the school day with an official statement over the intercom stating, ‘God Bless America,’” wrote the AHA in a letter to the school’s principal. “For such a statement affirms God-belief, validates a theistic worldview and is invidious toward atheists and other nonbelievers.”
Oh, well then. I didn’t know that atheists had been subject to invidiousness! Those poor students. Will they ever feel safe to not-practice their non-religion?
Naturally, the school folded like an accordion. District Spokesperson Sharyl Wood insisted that the remarks were not part of the scripted announcement and that “the principal took the appropriate steps in speaking with the student and disciplining the student.” While the statement did not elaborate on what discipline this entailed, one can only imagine he got a very stern talking to. I mean, how dare he use one of this country’s most common patriotic phrases? What does he think this is, the America of 20 years ago?
According to the principal, the offending student was told that if he were to ever stray from the script again, he would not be allowed to make the announcements. She concluded her statement by saying it was their “desire and intention to respect the beliefs and constitutional freedoms of all students at Yulee High School.”
What a relief. It chills the blood to imagine students who might have to hear a phrase as…invidious…as “God Bless America” in their morning announcements. Why, those atheists could catch Christianity if the school isn’t careful.
It’s sad to see our country turning its back on its history. God stood at the center of the exploration, founding, and defending of this great land for hundreds of years. Now, after stretching the concept of the establishment clause far beyond the breaking point, we’ve all but erased Him from our national culture. To what end? So a tiny minority of the population doesn’t have their little ears offended. Somehow, that’s progress.