In a surprise move the usually anti-Christian ACLU has sided with the Dove World Outreach Center, as they continue to speak out against the threat of Islam. Will the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), now go after their ACLU buddies?
ACLU files suit over ‘Devil’ shirts
The lawsuit claims schools have been inconsistent in handling cases.
By Harriet Daniels
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal district court Monday on behalf of two families from Dove World Outreach Center whose children were not allowed to wear “Islam is of the Devil” T-shirts to Alachua County public schools.
The ACLU suit lists as plaintiffs Wayne Sapp and Stephanie Sapp, and Ludger and Heike Boecken, parents of students who were asked to cover up the T-shirts.
The T-shirt incidents prompted parents, including those of the Muslim faith, to speak at Alachua County School Board meetings, thanking administrators for their action.
Since the incidents, one child from each of the families filing the lawsuit has withdrawn from public school, citing infringement of their First Amendment rights.
The shirts bore the same message as that on a large sign posted in front of Dove World Outreach Center in the 5800 block of Northwest 37th Street, where the families are members.
The suit claims the Alachua County School District was inconsistent in handling the situations at each school, with some students being allowed to wear them with the back covered up while in other cases the shirts were banned altogether.
Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said while the ACLU does not support the message on the T-shirts, the organization wants to protect freedom of speech in this case.
“I understand that the school district is trying to balance their legal obligations to both sides, but I think they did so incorrectly in this case,” Simon said.
Attorneys for the ACLU said at issue is whether school officials may lawfully permit what they consider to be “positive” messages about religion, faith or other matters while prohibiting what they consider to be “negative” messages about those same matters.
The messages printed on the front of the shirts – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No on goes to the Father except through me,'” and “I stand in truth with Dove World Outreach Center” – was allowed by the school district.
The ACLU wants the court to find the district’s policy regarding messages on clothing they find “offensive to others” as unconstitutional.
An award of nominal damages, not to exceed $20, is also listed in the complaint as well as litigation expenses and attorney’s fees.