The U.S. Department of Justice reports that a federal court in Massachusetts has ruled that a high school was wrong to suspend students for handing out candy canes with religious messages on them.
The ruling, by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, says Westfield High School violated the kids' First Amendment rights and barred the school from enforcing similar speech restrictions in the future.
The students, members of a Bible club at Westfield, had been told that they could distribute the candy canes with a "Happy Holidays" message, but were forbidden to attach a message containing a prayer and a description of the religious origins of the candy cane.
The court rejected the school's claim that the Constitution's Establishment Clause required them to censor the religious speech of the students, holding that while school-sponsored religious speech is forbidden by the Constitution, student religious speech is constitutionally protected.
The court also rejected the school's claim that the religious messages could be barred because they might be offensive to non-Christian students. The court held that by singling out religious messages for censorship, the school had violated "a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment" that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because it might be disagreeable or offensive.
You would honestly think that the place where this whole crazy idea of American independence and freedom started would have a basic understanding that the government can't tell people that they can't practice a harmless religion. I'm also shocked that with all the discussion that has happened over the last few years regarding school prayer that the lesson hasn't sunk in. I think I'm expecting too much from Massachusetts.
:: Bitter 11:08 PM [+] ::