Dana 2012-07-27 04:48:06
Legal Group Cautions Schools on ‘Censoring Religion’
By Lawrence Morahan
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
August 15, 2003
(CNSNews.com) – As American students prepare to return to school during the
next month, a national legal watchdog group is calling on school officials
around the country to uphold the Constitution in the classroom and not
censor student religious expression.
The Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville, Va.-based civil liberties
organization, sent a memorandum to more than 15,000 public school
superintendents warning of potential violations of students’ rights over
zero tolerance policies and misunderstandings over “the separation of church
John Whitehead, president of the institute, said the mailing was meant to
“raise awareness as well as fuel debate on the continuing vitality of our
The group said it noted an increase of instances of censorship of religious
expression by public school administrators in recent months.
Attorneys for the institute filed suit in July on behalf of a Bible club
that was not allowed to meet in a school district in Punxsutawney, Pa. A
federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Bible club last month, holding
that the school district violated both the federal Equal Access Act and the
The 1984 Equal Access Act prohibits public schools from discriminating
against student groups based on the religious, political, philosophical or
other content of the group’s speech.
Moreover, the act requires that schools grant religious student groups
official recognition under the same conditions they grant recognition to
non-religious student groups.
The institute also filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rachel Honer, who was not
going to be permitted to sing “He’s Always Been Faithful” at her graduation
ceremony in Winnecone, Wis., because of the song’s reference to God. School
officials eventually agreed to let Honer sing the song.
Family policy groups also are concerned with what they see as strong
opposition to any mention of God in a public forum.
Many school boards feel threatened by potential lawsuits if they allow
religious activity in the classroom, said Jan LaRue, chief counsel for
Concerned Women for America.
“Clearly, a public school student can pray anytime he or she wants to pray
silently or to meet with other students before or after school, or during
lunchtime, to pray together, and nobody can stop that because that is the
individual’s right to both speech and religious expression,” LaRue said.
The Supreme Court has ruled that violations of the Establishment Clause can
occur when a public school teacher begins the school class with prayer,
legal analysts said.
Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and
State, said, however, that it was rare to encounter a school district
seeking to sponsor school prayer.
“I think that the major issue, when we’re looking at school prayer these
days, is one of parental rights and parental authority,” Boston said.
“Parents are the ones who should decide what religion, if any, their
children are exposed to. It’s not the job of school officials, teachers,
principals or administrators to promote religion before young people,”
Most disputes nowadays center on prayers at graduation, prayers before an
assembly or the rights of students to form religious or non-religious clubs.
“I think that we are moving toward a consensus, or at least an
understanding, that school-sponsored prayer is not appropriate,” Boston
In February, the Department of Education issued an update on what is
constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary
School districts that allow censorship of student religious expression
jeopardize their federal education funding under the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act of 1965.
As a condition of receiving funds under this act, education agencies are
required to certify to their state educational agency they have no policies
that prevent or deny participation in constitutionally protected prayer.
“The Supreme Court has made it very clear that neither students nor teachers
leave their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate,” LaRue said.
“The Declaration of Independence… [is the] declaratory charter of our
rights, and the rights of man.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States
Rico_001 2012-08-08 08:17:06
Here is my question that the fundies never seem willing to answer. Is your
God so feeble that he must have a captive audience (school ceremony etc) to
Jeff stricklan 2012-08-08 16:47:22
Bullshit. You have no protection anywhere in the Constitution or anything
else that prevents you from being offended. If we had “offended protection”
then I could claim that teaching of homosexuality is offensive and ought to
be banned. The captive audience exists when day after day it is exposed to
offensive speech. There is no captivation at a one-time ceremony.
Get a life.
Not exactly. Without the rules, p*** will show up on every channel and will
permeate the medium to the point that it can not be avoided. This is more
akin to the captive audience that gets an objective message day after day
after day from authorities.
P*** showing up on HBO lets me change the channel, constant p*** on the
Playboy Channel allows me to not even subscribe to that channel and thereby
avoid the issue.
Banning whatever religion a child might spew because it occurs on public
property can eventually spread to church services that are broadcast on
public television, afterall the airwaves ate government property.
I agree that school can not invite a student for the sole purpose of
engaging in religious speech, such as the invocation before a sports event,
or to bless the graduation ceremony before it begins. This would put the
child in the position of a government agent, and that agent would wrongly be
promoting religion on school property. But, if after a non-religious
invocation is given in an appropriate manner and the ceremony is proceeding,
a student is introduced as the Valadictorian, or Class President, or
whatever, and that student wants to say, I want to thank God for my strength
and wisdom, and read a passage that illustrates how that strength and wisdom
came, this is an entirely different circumstance that the audience can
accept or reject. The students in the audience will not be compelled to
grasp a hold of the message, however some might do exactly that, but they
would be predisposed to grasp it anyhow. Those that reject such things can
simply sit and marvel at the ignorance of the speaker and wonder how he or
she got invited to the podium in the first place. At the end of the
ceremony, everybody goes home and talks about how wonderful or stupid that
event was, and the next day comes.
Actually, I would greatly enjoy if religion flooded my email rather than the
p*** that comes now. So, I think I would like my position applied equally.
That said, the discussion is if a student can make religious speech at a
school event. We wouldn’t want p*** to be spoken at school, indeed we have
minor-protection laws that prevent this. We have a recognized interest in
protecting minors from exposure to p***, but I can’t think of any similar
interest in protecting minors from exposure to religion.
Lots of people think the same thing as I. You obviously do not think much at
Sometimes you discuss things, then you revert to your insult hurling. I
suspect your meds are a tad bit too weak because you drift in and out.
If the courts had ruled you wrong, and they have in many instances, you
simply keep attacking the issue until you get the decision you want. The
courts have repeatedly ruled on the notion of ceremonial deism and the
phrase “In God We Trust”. The lower court in NEWDOW cited this ceremonial
deism and the similarities with “under God” in the Pledge. You keep chipping
away at rulings you think are wrong, and it is OK. I chip away at rulings I
think are wrong, and you become insulting.
You really have a warped sense of equality. We are only equal if we share
your opinion. You insist on restricting the human experience via
legislation, I want to expand the human experience and let you ignore the
c*** that doesn’t make sense to you.
As a society, we can not ignore the fact that religion is out there. All we
can reasonably ignore is what it might mean to us. If it means nothing to
you, then simply don’t buy into it when it is exposed on occasion. Allow the
rest of us to use our own deductive powers to accept or reject as we see
fit, and stop forcing us to reject via legislation.
When the Religion Police show up at your house, give me a call. I will be
there beside you taking up your defense. But, allow me to accept or reject
on my own. And, don’t put the same rules of speech on our children as we put
on our government.
Bob lechevalie 2012-08-08 16:48:31
If you think that your kid is more likely to listen to an adult than a
peer, then you are simply deluded. Sometimes a SPECIFIC adult that
the kids respect will warrant listening to and heeding, but in general
peers’ opinions will outweigh adult opinions.
lojbab (parent of two teens, who knows better)
Bob LeChevalier, Founder, The Logical Language Group
(Opinions are my own; I do not speak for the organization.)
Artificial language Loglan/Lojban: http://www.lojban.org
Roger 2012-08-08 16:48:42
There’s a book about this, “The Nurture Assumption,” by Judith Harris.
Probably out of print. Great book.
Rico_001 2012-08-24 04:54:26
If you had not trimmed off the very first line of my post, you would see I
was not talking to you.