The recent 10-day suspension of Kendria Sanders, public school principal in Goldonna Elementary-Junior High in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana has sparked a 200-person rally in the small town.
Sanders was suspended over a highly criticized school-sponsored Christmas play that included student-led prayer, religious songs and a student portraying Jesus hanging on a cross.
Natchitoches Parish schools Superintendent Dale Skinner, interviewed separately earlier in the day, expressed support for the rally, but said he hoped everyone understood his decision to discipline the principal was not "personal."
"We were reported and we had to stop immediately," Skinner said, after receiving a complaint filed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "It appears they can do whatever they want no matter what you and I think.”
Skinner said the Goldonna principal was disciplined because he made it "clear what was legal and what wasn't" at principals' meetings. "If she had asked me about it we might could have worked around it."
A student can voluntarily pray, Skinner clarified, but it must not be solicited. At Goldonna, the prayer was listed on the program, he said.
"We just have to be very careful. We don't want to encourage a lawsuit," said Skinner, who admits he tried to find a way to have prayer at the Veteran's Day program to honor the veterans who gave of their lives for the country. "But I was told we could not. You could have a moment of silence."
The rally was held in a church parking lot and featured speeches made by six different pastors emphasizing religious liberty.
"It's my responsibility, but I do ask God's blessings on the school," said Ben Dupree a Goldonna alderman, agreeing with the statement made by Rev. Mike Honzell who said it is not the responsibility of the school system to teach their children about Christianity.
"We believe God is God and we should be able to pray to Him when we want to,” said church member Pat Bell.
“Don't deny us our rights.”
Photo Source: Wikiedia Commons