Ill. school suspends student broadcaster for saying ‘God bless’ on the air

ILLINOIS — School administrators suspendeda high school broadcaster from a school news show for one month because he signed off bysaying “God bless.” Dupo High School senior James Lord is scheduled tobe off the air until Feb. 1. His suspension stems from the Dec. 17 broadcast of”Tiger’s Eye News,” the school’s closed-circuit television show. Lord signed off fromthe last episode before the winter break by saying, “Have a safe and happyholiday, and God bless,” according a news release from the American Center forLaw and Justice, the public interest law firm advising him. Lord said he plansto ask the Dupo School Board to revoke his suspension at its Jan. 27 meeting.School administrators had warned Lord not to use the expression, “Godbless,” according to an article in the Norwest Indiana News. Principal JonathanHeerboth said Lord’s statement was inappropriate in public school.”Wecan’t allow one person to use school time to express any personal religiousbeliefs. We’re not going to turn loose our school forum,” Heerboth told theNorwest Indiana News.After his suspension, Lord contacted theAmerican Center for Law and Justice because he said he felt the school’sactions were unconstitutional. Francis Manion, senior counsel for the center,said he “didn’t know whether to laugh or cry” when he heard about Lord’s suspension. “There are lots of real problems [in schools]. Ican’t believe a kid saying God bless could be one of them,” Manion said.Lord said he cannotpromised that he won’t say “God bless” when he returns to the televisionprogram. “I’m not threatening to say it again once I get back on theair. But there’s Easter, or if there is another national tragedy like 9/11, orif there is a student death, it could be appropriate,” he told the NorwestIndiana News.UPDATE: The Dupo School Board voted to immediately reinstate Lord to “Tiger’s Eye News” at its meeting on Jan. 27.The board did not say whether Lord can say “God bless” on the air again. Manion told the Belleville News-Democrat that he interpreted the board’s ruling to mean that Lord has the right to say “God bless” without fear of disciplinary action.