The Freedom From Religion Foundation wants a Chicago-area public school principal to be dismissed for his active promotion of religion.
Rich South High School Principal Michael McGrone regularly boosts religion, according to media reports and FFRF local members. He has brought in a woman to pray with the students in the cafeteria, the Chicago Tribune reports. In a Facebook posting, McGrone wrote: "This is how we 'stop the killing': Allow God back in school!! Prayer works." He has also said, "Is (prayer) considered crossing the line? I would agree in part, but in so many ways I cannot deny who I am and what got me to become principal."
McGrone's behavior is illegal and unconstitutional, as courts have consistently ruled.
"It is well settled that public schools may not endorse or promote religious exercises, such as prayer," FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne writes to Rich Township Schools Legal Counsel John Relias. "And it is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the district to offer religious leaders unique access to befriend and proselytize students during the school day on school property."
There is no doubt that McGrone is promoting Christianity to the students under his care. (He reportedly makes frequent references to Jesus, in addition to his other utterances and actions.) In allowing an outside individual to pray in the cafeteria, McGrone is furthering the activity by providing the person a microphone, posting her prayer videos online and encouraging students to participate with her. McGrone's stated goal of getting "God back in school" shows a complete disregard for his constitutional obligations, and he has admitted to promoting religion despite knowing it's illegal to do so.
McGrone is clearly unfit to work at a public school in the United States, FFRF Co-President Dan Barker asserts. FFRF sees no reasonable alternative other than to terminate his employment with the district, given his description of his unconstitutional behavior as "who I am and what got me to become principal."
This is not the first time the Rich Township school district has come under fire from FFRF for inserting religious views into public education. Earlier this year, FFRF asked the district to remove a ban on symbols and literature of a minority religion. The district has thus far decided to keep this blatantly discriminatory policy.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 23,700 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 700 in Illinois.