Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, November 21, 2005

On The Eve Of Religious Silly Season

All across the nation, those who want to demolish public displays of religion are revving up their law books, facing those who are just as determined to defend public Christmas displays and verbal wishes of Merry Christmas.

It's the annual season of hope, good cheer -- and full assault on America's religious heritage, which C-SM will be documenting again this year in its ongoing "Putting the[Blank] back in [Blank]mas" series.

At the start of the assault on Christmas season, USAToday tells us its not all that bad. Just look at our public schools, where the proper study of religion flourishes. The author is Charles C. Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. He writes:

Yes, 20 years ago many public schools did come close to being religion-free zones. In the wake of the controversial court decisions banning state-sponsored religious practices, some school officials overreacted by trying to keep all religion out. Textbooks largely ignored religion, and teachers were hesitant to teach about it. Administrators mistakenly confused student speech with government speech and told kids to leave their religion at the schoolhouse door.

But that was 20 years ago. Today, most state standards and textbooks include considerable mention of religion; student religious clubs meet on hundreds, if not thousands, of high school campuses; the sight of Christian students praying around the flagpole or in the lunchroom is not uncommon; and Muslim students are routinely given a free room to perform daily prayers.

Haynes goes on to mention three cities, Ramona, Calif.; Davis County, Utah; Mustang, Okla.; where,
Instead of lawsuits and shouting matches, these communities have come together to find common ground on how to protect student religious expression while guarding against school endorsement of religion.
Would that it were so easy or so happy. Here's what the American Center for Law & Justice has to say on the matter:
Although there are exceptions throughout the country, as a rule, the public educational establishment increasingly embraces liberal ideology and secularism, sometimes to the point of hostility against religion, particularly Christianity. ... As a consequence, students' rights to the free exercise of religion are too often trampled. ... Over the years, ACLJ attorneys have won countless cases where school officials have, out of ignorance or hostility, attempted to violate the First Amendment rights of public school students.
If things were going as well as USToday would have us to believe, why would ACLJ have to file and win "countless" lawsuits to protect even the pathetic status quo we live under? The fact of the matter is that to the extent there is the thoughtful teaching of religion in school, it is because a group like the ACLJ defeated the efforts of a group like the ACLU.

In school districts where it went otherwise, the results are different. My daughter's school district, for example, threw all student clubs off campus rather than allow a bible club to meet.

So, it turns out that saying everything about religion is OK is the opiate of the people. The real situation is much worse.