Legal Letter Essay

1844 words - 8 pages

The Oregon, High, and School Legal Firm (OHSLF) and Maya Irvin-Vitela offer this letter brief in response to the recent issues that have arisen at Backhouse High School.
The facts of the case are as follows :On Thursday, October 31st, a pagan gathering took place at Jaycee Park in Backhouse, Wisconsin. The gathering in question was the Eighth Annual Pagan Pride Day, an event which works to build community awareness and religious tolerance. The event, which consisted of an estimated 400 people, lasted from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and offered a variety of products for purchase, as well as tents set up for discussions, demonstrations, and food. Shortly after October 31st, an unofficial student club at Backhouse High School, Modern American Druids, filed a Facilities Use Request with the Backhouse High School administration to use an area of the front lawn know as “the rock”. “The rock” is an area that contains the school’s flagpole, as well as a boulder, which is a widely known symbol of school pride. The area is visible from the school’s front driveway and parking lot. The Facilities Use Request was filed by the Modern American Druids faculty advisor, Earthrid Maskull, a social studies teacher and self-proclaimed Druid priest. In the Facilities Use Request, Earthrid Maskull indicated that the use of “the rock” would be a prayer ceremony that overlapped with Samhain, the Druid holiday that translates to the ‘Dark Days of November’, and would last from 7:00 a.m. until 7:45 a.m. on Friday, November 8th. The Druid prayer ceremony would consist of an unknown number of teachers and students, and invitations to participate in the ceremony were sent by Maskull to all high school staff. Additionally, members of Modern American Druids, using school paper and printers, printed hot orange posters emblazoned with the words “See You at the Rock” and hung them around the school. Upon hearing of the request, Porter Juke, a local Baptist preacher, filed a formal complaint asking that the ceremony be banned due to the club’s basis in “devil worship”, along with the fact that Druids were not a true religion, but instead a “heathen cult”. Porter Juke also argued in his complaint that it would be “inappropriate and an invitation for violence” if Modern American Druids were allowed to promote their religious beliefs in a predominantly Christian school. However, before any action was taken on Porter Juke’s complaint, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint, stating that Druids were indeed a legitimate religion, and therefore Modern American Druids could not practice their faith on school grounds based on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Additionally, the Freedom From Religion Foundation included in their citation a complaint about a Halloween display set up by DECA. The display, which consisted of traditional Halloween decorations, such as cartoon witches, ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns, had a banner that said “Happy Halloween-Buy Locally”. In...

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