Praying school board
likened to terrorists
ACLU boss compares officials to 'people who flew the airplanes into the buildings'
WorldNetDaily | August 17, 2005
A local ACLU director equated al-Qaida terrrorists with members of a Louisiana school board seeking to open their meetings with prayer.
Joe Cook of the ACLU of Louisiana spoke on camera with WAFB-TV, Baton Rouge, La., while staff and teachers of the Tangipahoa Parish district in New Orleans were at a seminar being informed of their free-speech rights by a member of the Alliance Defense Fund.
Referring to the school board, Cook said, "They believe that they answer to a higher power, in my opinion. Which is the kind of thinking that you had with the people who flew the airplanes into the buildings in this country, and the people who did the kind of things in London."
Mike Johnson, senior counsel and southeastern regional coordinator for the Alliance Defense Fund, said Cook has become increasingly outlandish in his statements.
"It shows the ACLU has become more and more extreme and marginalized," said Johnson. "So, to that extent, I like it when he talks, because he simply reveals who they are."
Johnson said the ACLU tries to "come across as champions of liberty, but the truth of the matter is they are extremists."
"It's clear in a number of recent cases that the ACLU of Louisiana wants to impose a radical form of secularism that the Constitution doesn't require, and frankly, that people of this state are not willing to accept," Johnson said.
The local ACLU has filed three lawsuits in the past 10 years on behalf of "offended parents" with children in the Tangipahoa Parish district.
The board is appealing a federal judge's ruling that prayers at its regular meetings violate the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
The board – which has opened each of its meetings with a prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, for more than 30 years – argues the invocations impose no restriction on any religious viewpoint, and any person who wants to lead the prayer may do so regardless of his religious beliefs.
In 2003, however, a parent of two high school students in the district, represented by the ACLU, filed a lawsuit claiming the invocations were unconstitutional.
The trial judge recognized it is constitutional for legislative or deliberative bodies to begin meetings with prayer, but she ruled the principle did not apply to the school board.