Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Alliance Defense Fund Caught Lying Again

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty - TN School Officials Accused of Censoring Posters Defend Actions [UPDATED]

Believers should never lie. Never. It is one of the Big Ten. Thou shalt not bear false witness is how the King Jim says it in Exodus 20:16. I checked several other translations just to verify. Yep. They all say the same thing: lying is a Big Time No-No.

The Alliance Defense Fund should know that lying is not a good thing ... after all, ADF was founded in 1994 by over 30 different ministries, including such prominent guys as James Dobson (founder, Focus on the Family), the late D. James Kennedy (founder, Coral Ridge Ministries), the late Marlin Maddoux (president, International Christian Media), & even Donald Wildmon (founder, American Family Association).

So when the Alliance Defense Fund tells a whopper, they should be called on it.

Here's the story.

Back in 2006 the Alliance Defense Fund defended the Wilson County Schools (TN) against a lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought against the schools with several claims, but the biggie was that a group called "Praying Parents" meets in the school cafeteria during school hours & drops off fliers in classrooms to let children know the group has prayed for them. The Praying Parents group is featured on the school's website. The suit also says that the school observed "National Day of Prayer" by holding a student poster competition and handing out "I prayed" stickers to students.

Since then, several other items were added to the suit & the towns people were not too happy with the anonymous parents who filed the suit. Of course, the ACLU was accused of all sorts of things when it brought the suit on behalf of the parent.

Then came May 2008 when the case was settled.

What is interesting is that the Alliance Defense Fund made the astonishing claim in their press release that the school/ADF had won & the parents/ACLU had lost. Here's the ADF press release ... it sure looks to me like the ADF is claiming victory & that the parents/ACLU had lost. Isn't that the way it looks to you? The ADF headline reads: ACLU fails to silence religious expression in Wilson County schools. Looks to me like they are claiming the ACLU lost, doesn't it?

Well, there is just one, wee-little problem. The Alliance Defense Fund is lying. That's right. telling the story with the Serpent Tongue.

Here's the actual quote from the ruling found at this link (page 58-59). . Let's see if it looks like the ADF/school won, or if the parents/ACLU won ...

The Does have proved by a preponderance of the evidence that they suffered a constitutional violation and they will suffer a continuing irreparable injury if they are not able to enroll their children in Lakeview because Lakeview is not complying with First Amendment religious freedoms. The Does do not have an adequate remedy at law because a damages award will not alleviate the burdens faced by the Does.

Accordingly, the Court will grant the Does limited permanent injunctive relief.


As explained in this opinion, certain practices at Lakeview Elementary School during the 2005-2006 school year did not have a secular purpose and were allowed or pursued to tacitly approve the activities of the Praying Parents, which had the primary effect of endorsing or promoting their Christian beliefs and programs at the school. In addition, the Praying Parents practices and programs at the school caused the Lakeview administrators and teachers to become
excessively entangled with religion in violation of the Establishment Clause. Therefore, for all of the reasons stated in this opinion the Court finds in favor of the Does and against all Defendants except the Board itself. The Does are entitled to a limited permanent injunction which will be set forth in a separate Order. The Intervenor-Defendants have not presented a justiciable controversy concerning whether their First Amendment rights have been violated by the Defendants.

An appropriate Order shall be entered.

But notice, please, how the Alliance Defense Fund twists the words & misrepresents the facts to bear false witness. Here's the first sentence of the ADF press release ... NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A court order issued Thursday fell short of granting the American Civil Liberties Union what it was seeking in its lawsuit against the Wilson County School System, according to attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund.

Carefully crafted, isn't it? Notice it doesn't say the ACLU won but that the ACLU didn't get what it was seeking. Now that is true, as the judge ruled one point as unintentional & another point was not a violation. Out of 6 points, the judge agreed with 5 of the 6. Looks like a win, but not everything the ACLU was seeking. Still, the ADF lied.

Notice paragraph two: ... “This is a win for religious freedom and, if not a total loss for the ACLU, certainly a hollow, shallow victory. The court acknowledged that Christians cannot be discriminated against for their beliefs and that personal prayer, mentions of God, and Christmas references are constitutionally appropriate in school,” said ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum. “The ACLU hoped to wipe out every reference to God but walked away with a take-nothing judgment. ADF and its clients were successful in repelling the ACLU’s attacks.”

Hmmm. A total loss for the ACLU? When the court order ruled for the parents in 5 of the 6 points? Nor is it true the ACLU was trying to remove God. Nope. Just the violations of the Constitution where the school gave special treatment to one faith. And notice how the press release said the court said Christians cannot be discriminated against. Well, yeah, but that is not really what the judge ruled nor what the case was about ... just a little misrepresentation on the ADF's part. But they did say "shallow victory" for the ACLU --- a serious twisting of words, wouldn't you say?

Then comes the Biggie:

The court order Thursday refused to grant the ACLU’s request to stop each of the following at Wilson County schools:

· The playing of a song with a religious reference in honor of a three-year-old cancer victim

· “See You at the Pole” student prayer event

· National Day of Prayer observances

· Meetings on campus by the group Praying Parents

· Christmas and Thanksgiving observances with religious references

“All of these things will remain constitutionally permissible at the school,” Kellum said. “The order specifically states that these types of activities may continue.”

More lies. The ACLU didn't ask the bullet points be stopped, only that the violations be halted. For example, the statement about the song with a religious reference. The ADF left out the facts here. It was a religious song that a parent had written & performed & sent to be given to a sick student. The class asked the teacher play the CD though she had not previewed it & didn't know its content. The teacher never played the song again. The court said it was a one time thing & was unintentional, thus no foul. But that is a far cry from the ADF's claim, isn't it?

The "See You at the Pole" & "National Day of Prayer." The ACLU did NOT ask these be stopped regardless of the lie of the ADF. Read the ruling for yourself. The suit was that the school no longer officially endorse the programs with poster contests & teacher/admin sponsorship. Far different than the ADF Big Fib, ain't it?

The Praying Parents were ordered to no longer be at school during the school day & to stop intermingling with kids without parental permission. The ACLU never asked Praying Parents be banned from the school, only be there before or after the school day. Another ADF lie.

The Nativity & religious references =were= allowed to stay as they should. The parents had claimed the Nativity Scene & sample prayer the Puritans might have prayed was endorsement of religion. The court said the sample prayer was not a prayer at all but an educational drama & the Nativity was small part of a larger school play (less than 1/3 of the play). Thus, these were =secular= & not religious at all. Again, the ADF lied.

Anyway, that's the long & short of it. I don't get why a group that claims to stand for Truth will just blatantly lie --- unless it is for power or money. Could it be?

I would STRONGLY suggest comparing the ADF press release to the ACLU press release & see which one is telling the accurate account of the court's ruling.

Now I will grant that on the current issue, the school, I think, missed it. It looks to me like they were overreacting. Then again, if they made a policy expressly to comply with the court order ... well, we'll see how that one works out.

But in the mean time, the lying by the ADF bothers me. The ADF is still claiming the ACLU lost the suit against the school. Wrong. Here is the newspaper article on the current issue. Strange: the article says the ACLU won & the judge ruled against the school.

Less than a year after a federal judge ruled that the school district had illegally promoted religion, the board faces a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a dispute over religion at Lakeview Elementary. In 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee sued the Wilson County school board for inappropriately promoting religion.

At issue was a group known as the Praying Parents, which met on campus and handed out notes telling students they’d been prayed for.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Echols found the school board had given Praying Parents preferential treatment, and ordered the board to pay $171,000 for the plaintiff’s legal fees.

How is the whole world can realize the ACLU won but the ADF say it ain't so?

Who is lying here? Let's see: the judge said the ACLU won. The newspaper says the ACLU won. The school had to pay the legal fees. So I wonder who is lying here? Could it be, the Alliance Defense Fund just doesn't know it lost the case?

Seems the only people in the whole world that believe the ACLU lost & the Alliance Defense Fund won, is the Alliance Defense Fund. Tell a lie long enough & people will believe anything.


Georgia Mountain Man said...

The Alliance Defense Fund is depending upon the fact that most of its supporters will never read the legal ruling, and that they will not believe anyone else's summary of the ruling. Obviously, the secular, anti-Christ liberal press would never tell the truth about such an issue.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

That's exactly right. The ADF depends on their donation base to not check the facts but blindly follow along with whatever the ADF says because, after all, they are "Godly." Sorry, but the ADF is fleecing the flock by lying & spin. They rely on the naive. I'm appalled at their arrogance.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

One more thing: I heard somewhere the reason so many groups like the ADF lie is that it takes more effort, time & space to counter a lie than it does to just tell the lie. I see how much space it took me to go over & expose the ADF lie, verses a simple sentence in their press release to spin their misrepresentation. Yep. That's why they are so effective in their deception of the uneducated & naive.

Chet Lemon said...

From the ACLU's complaint, under "Request for Relief":

"Enjoining the Defendants and their successors, employees, and agents, from PERMITTING, AUTHORIZING, encouraging, and acquiescing in the delivering of: 1) the “See You at the Pole” event; 2) Praying Parents activities; 3) the “National Day of Prayer” event; 4) the Christian themes and songs at the Christmas program; and 5) classroom prayers."

(Emphasis mine)

Might you have wanted to read the ACLU complaint to find out what it actually demanded in federal court before accusing ADF of "lying?" The ACLU was clearly seeking (their words, not mine) an end to these events. They didn't get that.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Chet: You need to read it again. The ACLU did NOT ask those things be stopped. Never. At no time. Not once. They asked the school STOP THE ENDORSEMENT of those activities. The "permitting" means the endorsement of those activities as the ACLU attorney argued. I challenge you, Chet: show in the complaint where the ACLU asked those things be halted. You won't find them. The ACLU did NOT ask for that. You are doing the same as the ADF & twisting the words to say something it does not. At no time during the arguments did the ACLU attorney ask for those to be stopped. I challenge you to produce the documentation from the testimony -- it is NOT there. The judge was clear that he awarded =for= the ACLU when he awarded attorney fees. If the ACLU were asking those things be stopped, the judge would have awarded against the ACLU. Sorry, Chet, but you are doing the same thing the ADF did --- you're not representing the facts as they are.

Anonymous said...

The problem, Chet, is the ADF knows most people don't understnd the legal speak. "Permitting" in this case means that the school sanctions the event by scheduling and having official activities to help the event. The word does not mean to stop the event entirely. The ADF did tell a fib here and they know you and most folk don't understand the terms well enough to know the difference.

Georgia Mountain Man said...

Anyone with "one eye and half sense," as my mama used to say, can see that the ACLU did not seek to stop the events. Chet's quote is quite clear, even if he doesn't understand the legal meaning of "permitting." If you blindly and mistakenly believe, as many seem to do, that the ACLU seeks to stamp out Christianity, it appears to be pretty easy for the ADF to deceive their followers.

Chet Lemon said...

Don't know what to tell you, TBAR. The ACLU's words are pretty clear. It's in their own sworn complaint submitted to a federal court in the section I pasted in my comment, so I don't know where else to point you. It looks like you depended on second- and third-hand sources from which to draw your conclusions. I went to the source document and showed clearly that the ACLU demanded an end to these events. The words "enjoining," "permitting" and "authorizing" have plain meaning in the section in which they ask for specific relief. The relief they requested, I will post again:

"Enjoining the Defendants and their successors, employees, and agents, from PERMITTING, AUTHORIZING, encouraging, and acquiescing in the delivering of: 1) the “See You at the Pole” event; 2) Praying Parents activities; 3) the “National Day of Prayer” event; 4) the Christian themes and songs at the Christmas program; and 5) classroom prayers."

Nowhere do they ask the court to enjoin the district from "endorsing" these events. Read what it says without reading into it an interpretation that will allow you to stand by the charges you made in this post.

I recognize that the court entered a judgment in favor of the ACLU clients. However, courts frequently rule in favor of a party without giving said party everything it sought. That was the case here. In the request for relief, the ACLU was unambiguous. All you need to do is read what the ACLU itself wrote in it complaint.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Chet: I'm afraid you don't understand the use of "permitting" & "authorizing." Those do NOT refer to stopping said events entirely. It means that the school doesn't have any control, sponsorship, or in any way help the event. "Permitting" would be the school actively allowing & promoteing the event, e.g., poster contests, allowing the Praying Parents to pass around notes to kids during the school day, etc. I'm afraid the ADF is being intentionally dishonest in how it characterizes the complaint. I would suggest you contact the judge & ask him what the complaint was about.

Chet Lemon said...

Hey man, we are both reading the same request for relief. It says nothing about "endorsing," unless you want to interpret "encouraging" as synomous. I'll grant that, but "encouraging," if you want it to mean "endorsing," is part of an INCLUSIVE list. It doesn't say "or," it says "and." The ACLU, if it meant, "permitting the endorsement of," and "authorizing the endorsement of," would it not have written that? The ACLU wanted to effectively shut the events down by getting a court order preventing school officials from "permitting" and "authorizing" the events. Again, TBAR, read what the ACLU wrote without reading your conclusions into it.

foxofbama said...

I think our friend Holly Hollman is doing good work there in Tn.
Check my latest comment in Pierce's blog about marietta and the Flag.
Got some good stuff there about the new Upenn book by Steven Miller on Nixon and Graham.
You'll want a copy soon as you can get your hands on it; and the Ga Mtn Man to boot.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Chet: This is exactly what I'm talking about when I say the ADF relies on being able to spin this. The judge was expressly clear in his ruling that the ACLU did NOT ask for the "See You at the Pole" event be stopped. Again, the newspaper reports =never= read this the way the ADF did, & the ACLU blogs over that time =NEVER= not once said they wanted the events stopped. Never. The blogs, press releases, & all info from the ACLU simply said the endorsement must stop by the schools & the students may freely & on their own volition participate in those events. You have been played.

That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Fox: Holly is really on top of this & has some good insights. The current edition of Report From the Capital is available now.