Since she began serving on her local school board in Arizona in January, Heather Rooks has made it a practice to begin her meeting comments by reading a Scripture verse she found encouraging.
Rooks says citing Scriptures such as Isaiah 41:10—“Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God”—served as an inspiration to her.
“I continued to do it, because it really gave me a lot of strength and courage, and just really brought me peace while I'm up there making those big decisions when it comes to children,” she says.
But it did not take long before the mother of four was told she had to stop the practice.
Rooks' Scripture reading drew objection from inside and even outside the school district, and she received a “cease and desist” letter from a secular organization that told her she had to stop her practice because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. After receiving the letter, Rooks contacted First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based conservative law firm specializing in religious freedom.
Rooks’ actions are “clearly within the framework of legislative acknowledgements of religion,” says Hiram Sasser, Rooks' attorney.
Of behalf of Rooks, First Liberty Institute has served the Peoria Unified School District in Glendale, Arizona, with a lawsuit holding that it's within the school board member's rights to read Scripture at the meetings.
Rooks and Sasser join “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss the lawsuit and explain why citing Scripture at a school board meeting is not a violation of the establishment clause.
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