Santa Rosa Showdown

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Pensacola, FL – Liberty Counsel has filed a comprehensive lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County School District and its Superintendent, Timothy S. Wyrosdick, for their persistent and widespread violations of First Amendment rights. Liberty Counsel Senior Litigation Attorney, Harry Mihet, will speak on the steps of the federal courthouse in Pensacola at a rally and press conference today at 5:00pm CT. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two dozen individuals, including teachers, staff, students, former students, parents, volunteers and local members of the community, all of whom have been silenced, censored, intimidated or harassed by the school district and its partner, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Many of the clients represented by Liberty Counsel will be on hand for the press conference at 1 North Palafox Street, Pensacola, Florida.

As a result of a Consent Decree drafted by the ACLU, agreed to by the school district, and entered by a federal court, protected religious expression, such as voluntary, student-initiated prayers or off-the-clock religious discussion among adults, has been criminalized. Students can no longer say “God Bless,” teachers must hide in closets to pray, parents cannot communicate frankly with teachers, volunteers cannot answer any questions regarding religion, Christian groups cannot rent school facilities for private religious functions benefiting students, and pastors are dictated how they can and cannot seat their audiences at private, religious baccalaureate services held inside their own houses of worship.

Initially, Liberty Counsel offered free consultation to the school district, but the school district decided instead to shake hands with the ACLU, pay the ACLU $200,000 in legal fees, and voluntarily enter into the Consent Decree that obliterates religious freedom and makes a mockery of the First Amendment. Three school officials have since faced civil and criminal contempt charges at the hands of the ACLU and the school district.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Freedom fled from Santa Rosa County when the ACLU filed suit. Liberty Counsel intends to restore freedom and end the intimidation.”

This article is excerpted from a Liberty Counsel press release.