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Corker weighs in on ACLU suit
Nov 03, 2006 12:00 am
U.S. Senate hopeful Bob Corker Monday stumped in the backyard of a Lakeview Elementary School family to support the Wilson County school system against what he said was a "frivolous liberal lawsuit" the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of a former school family.
During the stop he said the ACLU is "woefully wrong" to have filed a "frivolous liberal lawsuit" against the Wilson County School District "alleging a morning prayer endorsed by Lakeview school officials is a constitutional violation of church-state separation."
Just one week from election day, the Republican candidate's hour long visit caused a stir and attracted about 50 people-including Lakeview principal Wendell Marlowe and local Republican officials- to the Old Hickory Langford Farms subdivision, located about 2.5 miles from Lakeview Elementary School.
All gathered in the back yard of Lakeview parents Lee and Jana Miller to greet Corker who scheduled the stop in Wilson County as part of a campaign stump across the mid-State. The Millers are Corker supporters and have a child who attends Lakeview Elementary.
Flanked by Sen. Mae Beavers and State Rep Susan Lynn, as well as his wife Elizabeth, Corker expressed disbelief over the suit.
"When the President declared Sept. 13, 2001 – just two days after the attacks of 9-11 – a National Day of Prayer, no one sued him for crossing some arbitrary line between church and state," Corker said. "We just bowed our heads and prayed. When a school in Wilson County or anywhere in our country allows children to do the same on the National Day of Prayer or gathering at the flagpole, the courts ought to stay out of the way."
All those in attendance bowed their heads in prayer before Corker continued to explain why he took the time to visit the Old Hickory residence. He noted he supported the efforts of Mt. Juliet City Commissioner Glen Linthicum "who said it was time for the community to take a stand against the ACLU."
"We should never force anyone to believe a certain faith or prayer a certain way," Corker said. "But if a school decides to set aside some time to allow children who wish to pray to do so, we ought to support that school and community."
The Senatorial candidate said if he was elected he "would fight to protect our freedom of religious expression."
He gestured to Marlowe and told the principal he and his school had a strong following and he was "a hero in the area."
"I can't imagine a school not wishing for parents to come together and pray," Corker said. "I applaud you and the school that once a year the students pray by the flagpole, that's what makes a country great."
After the visit, Marlowe said support of the school was welcome.
"I feel any support that we receive is in a positive way would be beneficial to the Wilson County school system" he said. "I hope the situation at hand does not polarize the community or have any negative impact at all."
Many Lakeview families also came to see Corker, including Phil Owens, a father of a Lakeview fifth grader.
"I wanted to be here to support the school," he said. "There are some great educators there. I think the ACLU is trying to prove a point at our school, and I don't think that is right."
Lynn said it was encouraging to see the man "who may be the next senator" support the right of parents to meet and pray for students.
"It's says a lot about Bob Corker's character," she said. "I'm here to support the school and the parents and to fight the ACLU for trying to silence the parents of this school."
Beavers echoed Lynn's sentiments.
"I'm glad this candidate has decided to join our fight for freedom of religion," she said.
And while Corker tried to keep campaign issues from clouding the intent of his visit on this particular stop, he did say he didn't understand his opponent Harold Ford, Jr.'s statement referring to Republicans fearing the Lord and Democrats fearing and loving the Lord.
"I believe I share Tennessee values," he said. "I try to solve problems and not divide."
Corker said this stop was only to show support to the Lakeview school family and it wasn't the best place to campaign the "usual issues."
However, he did say he hoped Tennesseans knew him as a person of maturity and background and someone "willing to go to Washington to solve the issues of today."
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.