September 16, 2009

Criminal Contempt Case Over a Meal Prayer Goes to Trial on National Constitution Day

Will prayer become a criminal offense?

Tomorrow, Liberty Counsel will be in federal district court in Pensacola representing the principal of Pace High School, Frank Lay, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman as they face criminal contempt charges for a prayer over a meal. Ironically, tomorrow is National Constitution Day.

During a luncheon to honor those who contributed toward the school's athletic Field House, Principal Lay asked Mr. Freeman to offer a blessing for the meal. Students were not present at the time of the blessing. Lay and Freeman thought nothing of the matter, nor did those being honored. But the ACLU ran to court, claiming both men should be held in criminal contempt. Lay and Freeman have a combined 70 years of public school service. If convicted, they face up to $5,000 in fines, six months in jail, and they may lose their retirement benefits.

Tomorrow’s trial comes on the heels of the trial of Michelle Winkler, a receptionist, who asked her husband, who is not a school employee, to bless the evening meal at a separate, privately sponsored event held off campus after school to honor noninstructional staff. The ACLU urged the court to hold Winkler in contempt, but after a 7½ hour trial, the judge sided with Liberty Counsel.

Members of Congress Show Support

Yesterday, Cong. Randy Forbes, the Chair of the bi-partisan Congressional Prayer Caucus, Cong. Mike McIntyre, Co-Chair, and Cong. Jeff Miller, whose district includes Santa Rosa County, along with over 61 members of the Caucus, sent a letter of support to Lay, Freeman and Winkler. The letter states the members “are standing with you in prayer and support as you face your trial on Thursday because of offering a prayer.”

Members of Congress voted to authorize a Chaplain to offer a prayer at the first session of Congress. The letter concludes: “The tradition of offering prayer in America has become so interwoven into our nation’s spiritual heritage, that to charge someone criminally for engaging in such an innocent practice, would astonish the men who founded this country on religious freedom.”

Last night members of Congress, including Cong. Forbes and Cong. Miller, made speeches on the House floor in support of Lay, Freeman, and Winkler while pointing out the sad irony they are being tried on National Constitution Day.

The story behind the story

This case really began over two years ago when the ACLU decided to raise a massive 300 million dollar “war chest” – in addition to their over 100 million dollar per year budget – for “special projects” in targeted states.

One of those targeted states is Florida. And one of the ACLU’s objectives in Florida is to wipe out any public expression of the Christian religion in the public square.

Santa Rosa County School System is not unlike any other public school system in America, including the one serving your community. If we are not prepared to stop the ACLU at every turn, the ACLU will soon terrorize a neighborhood near you.

The ACLU bullies intend to make it a CRIME to express your Christian faith in a public setting anywhere in the United States. This cannot stand! The ACLU must not win!

ACTION ITEM ONE: Please pray! There’s a reason the ACLU doesn’t want prayer in public places – they can’t make headway on their anti-Christian agenda when we pray!

ACTION ITEM TWO: Please help us with a gift! The ACLU picks on small school districts because they can usually financially intimidate them. Liberty Counsel is not intimidated because we win the vast majority of our cases against the ACLU.

But these cases are very expensive! Even if you have already sent a gift to help Liberty Counsel with this crucial case, please consider doing even more. 

BUT WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO DO, PLEASE PRAY FOR LIBERTY COUNSEL AND THIS CASE! And please forward this message to as many of your like-minded friends, church members, and associates as possible to enlist their prayers!

Liberty Counsel attorneys are on the front line of this battle and we simply can’t succeed without your help. Thanks in advance and God bless you!

Read our News Release for more details.

Read the letter of support from from Cong. Randy Forbes and other members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.

News Release by Cong. Randy Forbes

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