These are not isolated cases: In Nevada, censors pulled the plug of the microphone in the middle of the high school valedictorian's speech when she mentioned her Christian faith; in Virginia, a high school removed from a bulletin board materials posted by a teacher because they included reference to a day of prayer; in Chicago, a federal judge enjoined the state superintendent from enforcing a new law requiring a moment of silence in Illinois schools.
Atheism has been growing ever since the U.S. Supreme Court censored school prayer in Engel v. Vitale in 1962. That decision failed to cite a single precedent as authority.
The high court held decades ago that free speech includes prayer, yet lower courts continue to drive it from public places. In Faith Center v. Glover, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the exclusion of a Christian group from using a public library because some aspects of the group's speech might be described as worship.
Panel member Judge Lawrence Karlton, who was appointed by former President Jimmy Carter nearly 30 years ago, ridiculed the Supreme Court by claiming there is a "sorry state of the law" in not censoring more religious speech (like "under God") and that he will "pray for the court's enlightenment" to rule further against religion.
That decision, including the ridicule, seemed perfect for the Supreme Court to overturn with a strong message to deter disrespectful lower courts, but it declined. A Supreme Court that hears only 75 cases a year and ducks the big ones cannot end the havoc wrought by more than 100 lower courts rendering perhaps 1,000 times as many decisions.
Luckily, a rare Supreme Court decision last term written by Justice Samuel B. Alito was used by an appellate court to dismiss a lawsuit against prayer in the Indiana legislature. Four months after Alito's decision dismissing on standing grounds a challenge to President George W. Bush's faith-based programs, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals relied on it to dismiss a challenge to prayer in Indiana in Hinrichs v. Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Earlier, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also dismissed on standing grounds an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit attempting to prevent the Boy Scouts of America from holding their jamboree on military property. The results in these cases point the way for Congress to save the Pledge of Allegiance:
Withdraw jurisdiction from the courts over acknowledgment-of-God cases by passing the We the People Act, or H.R. 300.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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