Rebecca Hagelin

Just as America's troops are giving their lives in Iraq to protect such basic human rights as the freedom of religion and free speech, the Maryland Senate made the most un-American move it has made in recent history. Maryland government officials attempted to censor the prayer of Rev. David Hughes because he wanted to end the prayer, "In Jesus' name ... Amen."

When the good pastor refused to delete what is an essential element of a Christian prayer, he was banned from praying at all. In other words, only those prayers receiving government sanction are permitted to be uttered in the Maryland Senate.

How can it be that there are still American government officials who don't understand the First Amendment? Thank the Good Lord there are protectors of the First Amendment who work everyday to preserve this most basic of American, and human rights. Among them are the American Center for Law and Justice, the Pacific Justice Institute and the Rutherford Institute. A quick visit to the websites of these fine organizations reveals so many violations of First Amendment rights it will make your head swim. Particularly disturbing are the many attempts by public-school officials around the country to silence religious expression by students.

Take, for instance, the story from just this December involving students of Westfield High School outside of Springfield, Mass., recently brought to court by the Liberty Council in Orlando, Fla. A few kids asked their principal if they could distribute candy canes that had a Christian message attached. The principal refused. The school superintendent was also approached and the same "no" was given.

These government workers refused to let the students distribute the candy canes because the message on the folded cards that came with the candy canes "might offend" other students. The simple words of "Merry Christmas" were deemed too religious.

The kids, taking their orders from a little higher up, disobeyed the principal and handed out 450 candy canes the day before Christmas break. The principal ordered in-school suspensions for ignoring his orders. Six of the seven refused to accept the punishment and took him to court. Thankfully, a few weeks ago a federal judge ruled in their favor.

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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