The separation of church and state is once again causing debate. Except this time, it’s over whether it’s okay for a school official to say “God Bless America” after children recite the pledge of allegiance.
Until recently, it was a tradition for the principal at Sabold Elementary School in Springfield, Pa., to say “God Bless America” over the public address system after leading the pledge. That tradition is now defunct.
After a parent complained to a religion watchdog group and lawyers got involved, the Springfield School District decided to no longer allow saying “God Bless America” over the public address system, according to KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
A statement sent to parents read, “We understand that this is an important topic for many of our constituents; however, please understand that the district does not make the law. We follow it.”
A parent from the school said she supported the principal’s decision.
“I’m glad that our principal made the choice that he made by not saying it over the loudspeaker,” said Larisa Schreiber. “I think children are very impressionable.”
Another parent, Suzanne Hoffman, said, “I try to instill in my kids every day the sense of unity and community and patriotism and that’s what I’ll continue to do with my kids. And they will continue to say God Bless America.” The school is not allowed to stop students from continuing to say “God Bless America.”
While the issue may be settled at the Springfield elementary school, it furthers the conversation about schools inching closer into compliance with the First Amendment or if religious expression is being trumped by political correctness.
“I mean what’s the next step? Are they going to come here when a student sneezes and the principal says, ‘God Bless You?’,” said Pennsylvania state representative Michael Puppio.
Local resident, Lauren Carliss, said, “Well I don’t think a student should be made to have to say it if that’s not what their family is raising them to do.”
KYW-TV in Philadelphia contributed to this report.