THE RELIGIOUS EQUALITY AMENDMENT
SUB-COMMITTEE FIELD HEARING
Mr. Chairman and Committee members:
Good afternoon! My name is Jennifer Green. Thank you so
much for the opportunity to speak to you today.
I am currently a sophomore at the University of North
Florida. ln June of 1994, I graduated from Mandarin High
School in Duval County.
The religious case that I was personally involved in
was Adler, et al v. The Duval County School Board. I and
several others were represented by Liberty Counsel and were
allowed to intervene on behalf of those who were in favor of
a prayer at graduation. We won the case and it is currently
at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia.
The current memo/policy concerning prayer at graduation
at that time did not even mention the word "prayer". It said
that the graduating seniors had the option of a two (2)
minute opening or closing message. The content of the
message was totally up to the class. It could be of a
religious or secular nature. When a vote dictated of what
nature the message would be, a speaker was then elected by
the senior class. If the majority of the students wanted
prayer, then a prayer would be delivered, but if a majority
wanted a message that was secular in content then that was
delivered. The majority rules in the United States
Government so why should it be any different in our schools.
Though the majority of students at my school wanted a prayer
to be said at our graduation, I was still ridiculed and
harassed by my peers, teachers and administration. Students
wrote me nasty notes telling me I was wrong and that I was
ruining the school's reputation. There were teachers who
grouped together and wanted to put a stop to what we were
doing. They wanted to censor our speeches and they tried to
tell us that a prayer at graduation was not allowed. The
administration denied some of the activities that were going
on and did not attempt to stop the negative actions of some
of the students. l had a few friends who were at my side,
but I still felt that I was in the minority. Prayer was a
tradition to some, but it meant more to me. I was
acknowledging the supremacy of God and praising Him for His
blessings. The religious discrimination I experienced was a
result of my desire for prayer at my graduation ceremonies.
The reason I wanted a prayer said at my graduation was
because I did not want the most important person in my life
to go unnoticed on my special day. If you will, think back
to your own graduation day. The excitement and anticipation
that you felt is indescribable. Thanking those who helped
you get to this point in your life is very important and it
meant a lot to me. My parent's love and devotion were
unparalleled; the teachers who opened my eyes to a world of
knowledge and understanding; my friends who encouraged me
and rooted me on my way through high school. All these
important people could be thanked publically and in fact we
were encouraged to do so. However, when I wanted to thank
the most important person in my life I was censored. That is
a blatant violation of my first amendment right to religious
freedom. On graduation day I could stand in front of my
classmates and say "I love you", but I cannot say "God loves
you". Jesus Christ lives in my heart and if l cannot share
Him it is like not sharing a part of myself.
My behavior towards the school prayer issue was
expected because I had a reputation of carrying my Bible to
school every day. I witnessed on my campus and I shared my
convictions and standards with my classmates. l was never
persecuted for my beliefs, but l found myself in situations
that I had to choose whether I was going to stand up for my
Lord, or just let Him be ridiculed.
In addition to tilts school prayer issue, there have
been many times that I have observed religious
discrimination in my school. One day a friend of mine wore a
Christian t-shirt and was sent to the Dean's office. He was
ordered to call his mom and have her bring him some
different clothes. This act of the administration to censor
what we choose to wear is not right. The dress code says
nothing about religious slogans on clothing. Anything
dealing with drugs, pornography, alcohol, and sex is banned,
but nothing of a moral and godly content should be banned.
The first amendment states that we have the right to free
speech and expression. This incident is a violation of that.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of my life. I pray
and read my Bible daily. This a right and privilege which is
possible in this great country. The United states was
founded on Godly principles and we are a nation blessed by
God. When prayer and the Bible were taken out of the school
the morality of this country fell. There are statistics that
show the decline in SAT scores and the overall quality of
education that were a result of the absence of God.
I hope and pray that my stand and my convictions reach
at least one life. God has promised to never leave me nor
forsake me. He gives me the strength every day to stand up
for Him wherever I go. MY GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD!