A Florida high school that made headlines earlier this month for banning students from saying “God Bless America” during the morning announcements has backed down, First Coast News reports.
The Nassau County School Board reportedly voted to approve saying “God Bless America” during morning announcements after talking with lawyers. Earlier reports indicated that though the school did not believe there was a constitutional violation, school officials would not allow students to deviate from the script for morning announcements.
The battle over free speech and God in schools escalated quickly when heavyweights on the left and right made the school a highly publicized ideological battlefield.
A student at Yulee High School said “God bless America, keep us safe” at the end of the school announcements earlier this month. Upset, two atheist students contacted the American Humanist Association, an activist atheist group that sent a lengthy email demanding the school not say “God bless America” again.
The school conceded and banned the phrase from morning announcements. This outraged some conservatives, including the American Family Association, which became outspoken on the issue.
“This is yet another desperate attempt by the American Humanist Association to remove all reference to ‘God’ in American discourse,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon in a press release before the school board vote. “As we all know, and as has been upheld time and time—and time—again in our court system, Americans are free to mention God on school property.”
AHA legal counsel told The Daily Caller News Foundation earlier this month that it is prepared to sue if the school does not comply. AHA holds that the phrase violates the Constitution because it endorses religion and discriminates against atheist students.
“We feel that the complaint filed on behalf of another student through the American Humanist Association should not supersede the right of other students to use the phrase, as it does not promote any religious denomination and is commonly used as an expression of patriotism,” the school board said.
Whether a legal battle will ensue is still unclear.
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