Two recent letter writers were critical of Jody Stallings’ recent column about student religious freedom in public schools, in particular that he chose to express his own Christian beliefs in his response to a parent writing to him. I submit that the parent who wrote the letter to Mr. Stallings, was misinformed when he or she stated that “My child’s school has started a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s club,” insinuating that the school initiated formation of the club. The law prohibits our government, of which public schools are a part, to endorse any religion or religious organization and it stands to reason that the school would not be allowed to “start” an FCA club. On the other hand, schools are legally obligated to allow student religious groups to meet on school property as long as meetings don’t coincide with the time during which school classes meet. FCA meets this requirement since meetings are held before classes begin or after school.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects students’ rights to to engage in religious expression and freely exercise their faith. As Mr. Stallings pointed out in his article, these rights have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. To be sure, government bodies, including public schools, are prohibited from singling out − favorably or unfavorably − religious speech or religious conduct. Those who feel threatened by the presence on campus of a religious group that meets outside of class time, and who feel it is a threat to separation of church and state − when the group is neither endorsed by the school, nor does the school force people to participate − are trying to make something out of nothing and just don’t know or understand U.S. laws.
For eye-opening details on this subject, I recommend searching online and reading “Student Rights Handbook — K-12 and University,” a guide to Constitutionally Protected Religious Freedom on Campus.
A hope for 2020
Having served two terms on Mount Pleasant Town Council with my emphasis on keeping the town fiscally strong and staying tuned in to the revenues and expenditures of the current council the last two years; I can only encourage the new council to: 1) Protect the reserve fund for emergencies such as hurricanes and road projects that need continued funding while awaiting reimbursement from various sources. 2) Protect the bond rating to insure the best rate possible when annual borrowings occur for fleet vehicles (police autos), major purchases (fire trucks, mechanized equipment, etc.). 3) Keep our millage rate one of the lowest in the state. 4) Most important, if an expenditure is brought forth by one or more council members that it is a “need” and not a “frivolous” or unnecessary expense and the request is followed by the statement, “How do we pay for it?” This is my hope in 2020 and beyond for our Mount Pleasant Town Council.
Humbled and grateful
As we look forward to both a new year and the start of a new decade, I want to take a moment to thank every person who has donated to Palmetto Goodwill, shopped in our stores or volunteered their time.
We are proud that 2019 marked our 40th year of operation and that more than 90 cents of every dollar we generate is used to provide job training and employment services to those in need. The community support we received last year allowed Palmetto Goodwill to have an immense impact, serving over 20,000 individuals (including 1,200 veterans) and helping place more than 4,000 into new jobs.
As Palmetto Goodwill continues to grow and evolve, we are humbled and grateful to be able to serve a greater good, and we remain committed to being a valued provider of education, training and employment services to those in need. On behalf of our dedicated Board of Directors, employees, partner agencies and most importantly, the people we serve, we thank you. We are truly grateful for your support and contributions and we promise to make 2020 and beyond even more impactful.
President & CEO