School Forces Child to Remove 'God' from Veterans' Day Poem: First AmendmentSubmitted by Dixie-Paleocon on Fri, 11/30/2012 - 19:57
West Marion Elementary School in Marion, North Carolina, is at the center of controversy after educators ordered a six-year-old girl to remove the word “God” from a poem she was slated to deliver at a Veteran’s Day event. The first grader intended to use the opportunity to honor her two grandfathers who fought during the Vietnam War.
The contentious line that led the school to take action was, “He prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength” — clearly a reference to her relatives’ personal, wartime invocations. After a parent allegedly heard of the inclusion of a higher power, he or she complained. The school, apparently working diligently to balance church versus state concerns, then decided to tell the child to remove the line.
“The discussion [about the poem] occurred between myself, the principal and the assistant principal at West Marion,” Superintendent Gerri Martin told McDowell News. “We wanted to make sure we were upholding the school district’s responsibility of separation of church and state from the Establishment Clause.”
After consulting and considering the law, the school decided that allowing the line would constitute an endorsement of “one single religion over another.” Some in the Marion community, though, are concerned that the young girl’s First Amendment rights were violated when she was told that she could not utter God’s name during the Nov. 8 event.