Atheist Group Threatens to Sue Florida School Over Student's 'God Bless America' Comment

Yulee High School
Yulee High School, located in Nassau County, Florida. |

A school district in Florida is considering a complaint sent by a Washington, D.C.-based atheist organization regarding a high school's morning announcement including the phrase "God Bless America."

The legal arm of the American Humanist Association recently sent a letter of complaint to Nassau County School District and Yulee High School on behalf of two students who took issue with the phrase "God bless America" being used on the school intercom.

Sharyl W. Wood, spokesperson for Nassau County School District, told The Christian Post that the school is reviewing the situation.

"The Superintendent of Schools is conducting a research process on this issue and will respond when prepared to do so," said Wood.

Recently during the morning announcements at Yulee High a student over the intercom said: "God bless America."

The reportedly improvised declaration prompted two students to contact the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, a division of the American Humanist Association.

On Monday, the legal center sent Nassau County Superintendent John L. Ruis and Yulee Principal Natasha Drake a letter of complaint.

Monica Miller of the legal center stated in the letter that "it is clear that the school district is in violation of the Establishment Clause."

"As such, the school district and its officials may be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for damages, an injunction, and attorneys' fees," wrote Miller.

"This letter serves as an official notice of the unconstitutional activity and demands that the school district terminate this and any similar illegal activity immediately."

Miller also wrote that public schools are meant to be neutral on religious matters and having an official announcements with religious messages violates that neutrality.

In comments to local media and to CP, Wood of Nassau County explained that the student who said the "God bless America" comment was talked to for going off script for the announcements.

"If a student is reading the announcements over the PA system, the student should read the scripted announcements and not add any further comments," said Wood.

"The student may then go out on the campus as an individual student and say 'God bless America' any time he wants."

Sent to school officials Monday, the legal center gave Nassau County seven days to provide an official response. Failure to do so could lead to legal action against the school district.

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