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Hannity

Controversy Over 'God' In Yearbook

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 8, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Parents in Redwood, California, are outraged that their senior ads they paid to be put into the back of their children's yearbooks have been edited, because the word "God" was used in their passages.

When parents started calling and complaining to the yearbook staff at Liberty Union High School, everyone seemed to pass the buck of blame. Returning God to the yearbook, they said, would cost them thousands.

Well, today the school announced they decided to pay $8,000 to restore religious references to the ads.

Joining us now is a parent of a Liberty Union High School senior, Jeff Renner, and president of the Pacific Justice Institute, Brad Dacus. Jeff, tell us what happened in your case.

JEFF RENNER, FATHER OF LIBERTY UNION STUDENT: Well, my wife and I sat down, and we wrote out a message to our son that's going to go in the back of the yearbook. We just thought it would be a great opportunity to express our love and concern for our son and wish him well into his future and going to college.

And we — shortly after that we found out that they had edited out the section in it that we put God bless him. And it was just really upsetting. We just didn't quite know what to do at that point.

COLMES: I agree with you, as a matter of fact. It's not the school doing it. One can make an argument of separation of church and state, but it's you doing it. You decided you wanted to put that in there. You should be able to do it.

I want to ask, though, Brad here. You know, the school has a policy that references to drugs, alcohol, violence, gangs and apparently up until recently religion would not be allowed. Should all those things, or should anything a parent wants to say be allowed and where do you draw the line?

BRAD DACUS, PACIFIC JUSTICE INSTITUTE: That's a good question, Alan.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court has been very clear that school districts are not required to protect profane speech or vulgar speech or things that are possibly harmful or encouraging harm to students. So they have the protection ability to do that.

The main thing here to remember is that anti-religious based — anti-religious viewpoint based discrimination is not protected. And we at the Pacific Justice Institute are willing to go hand in hand, bat to bat with any school district in the country on this issue. It's that important.

COLMES: The point is if we're going to talk about free speech. Would the same fight be waged if it were something other than a religious issue on other areas that are also banned by the school and they remain banned as I understand it.

You...

RENNER: Right, right.

COLMES: Brad, are you — or rather Jeff do you have what you want now? The school put back by spending thousands of dollars the message you wanted to put in there?

RENNER: Yes. It was a great outcome. We're pleased they made that decision, yes.

COLMES: And they changed their policy totally, right?

RENNER: They did say they changed their policy to allow religious references back in. If you read the paper they did mention something about choosing six different pre-written scripts that we'll have to choose from. One having religious references. So, you know, that puts a little twist on it. But that was written in the paper as well.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Brad, as I read this case you know what really stuck out in my mind? And it's very, very revealing and very telling to me. It's God is like the one thing that they think they can get away with, you know, excluding or putting out.

You know, I wondered if they made a reference to sexual orientation or any of the politically correct issue we deal with all the time. I wonder — they wouldn't even think about it.

DACUS: You are absolutely right. This is the left coast, west coast and the San Francisco Bay area. And we see this kind of double standard all the time in public schools where religious students or religious speech is given the back seat.

And then other speech promoting even much more controversial, morally controversial things are given a protected status. And you're absolutely right.

And so that's why we have to fight this and fight it vigilantly to make sure that it doesn't become an institutionalized part of our society and our schools.

HANNITY: Yes. Jeff, Alan mentioned that, you know, parents can't make references to drugs, violence and gangs. Is there any instance of that? I can't imagine.

RENNER: You're asking if they made references to that in the articles.

HANNITY: Yes, because there were restrictions against gangs and violence and drugs.

RENNER: Yes, and I didn't see any of that.

HANNITY: I can't see a parent doing that.

DACUS: No, no I don't think they would ever do that.

HANNITY: Any other controversial things in there that you saw?

RENNER: No, not that we saw in there. It was just a really — it was just a message to encourage our kids and to support our kids and tell them how much we love them and appreciate them. That's all it really was.

COLMES: Guys, we — thank you very much for coming on the show tonight. Thanks for your time.

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