A federal lawsuit filed last week in Louisiana contains some of the most startling allegations you will ever see against public school officials accused of unlawfully turning their school into a bastion of Christian belief. In western Louisiana's Sabine Parish, one family alleges, teachers preach Creationism and mock the theory of evolution, routinely lead their students in Christian prayer, give extra credit for Christian responses to assignments, and actively question or deride the religious beliefs of non-Christian students and parents.
I wrote about the allegations in this case over the weekend for The Daily Beast but return to this story now because it has not yet flowered into the national story it deserves to be. You simply have to read the complaint, and the other court papers, and see the photos, to believe it. This is not a case about a few student-led prayers at graduation or a Christmas display. It is not a case about one odd educator. This is a case that digs down to the foundation of the wall that is supposed to separate church and state.
With all that in mind, and to offer context and perspective on this so far under-reported story, I asked Charles Haynes to share his insight about the case. Haynes, a senior scholar at the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center, is the nation's preeminent expert on Establishment Clause cases in public school settings. He has spent decades reviewing first amendment law in the context of these school prayer cases. Here is a slightly edited version of an email interview I conducted with him over the past few days.