A Pennsylvania elementary school principal has been forced to stop saying “God Bless America” over the school loudspeaker, thanks to the intimidation of an organization apparently committed to deleting First Amendment guaranteed religious expression from the public square.
Principal Peter Brigg was accustomed to declaring “God Bless America” after leading students and staff in a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at Sabold Elementary School in Springfield, Pennsylvania. But a parent supposedly complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which sent a threatening letter to the Springfield school district demanding that the practice be halted immediately.
Claiming that the phrase “God Bless America” originated with the patriotic Irving Berlin song made iconic by singer Kate Smith and amounted to a prayer, an FFRF attorney insisted to the district that a prayer “hosted by a publicly-supported school does not pass constitutional muster. The phrase ‘God Bless America,’ repeatedly uttered by a public school, amounts to a declaration of orthodoxy in religion that falsely equates patriotism with piety.”
The letter went on to demand that the school’s “practice of proclaiming ‘God Bless America’ each day must cease immediately,” and insisted that the district “inform us in writing” when it had followed through on the FFRF’s dictates.