Thursday, November 30, 2006

Case #3-06-0924, Doe v. Wilson County School System

Source: God and Wilson County schools. Excellent Commentary!
posted September 29, 2006 by Mark Rose at Right Minded.

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The ACLU is suing the Wilson County school system for religious activities at Lakeview Elementary in Mt. Juliet, thereby violating "separation of church and state."
  • Alleging that a Mt. Juliet elementary school Christmas play, a group of praying parents, a national prayer day and teacher-led prayer in class are among a range of religious activities that violate the separation of church and state, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee filed a suit in federal court yesterday.

  • The suit was filed on behalf of two Old Hickory parents, who said the activities were "highly offensive" and subjected their young son - a kindergartener at the school last year - to "religious proselytizing."
  • "Religious freedom for everyone is jeopardized when public schools promote and endorse religious activities," ACLU-TN executive director Hedy Weinberg said in a news release. "In addition, the sponsorship of religious activities in Wilson County public schools broadcasts a divisive message to the religiously pluralistic community of Wilson County.

  • Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the suit seeks a preliminary injunction, asking that defendants be stopped from engaging in any future, similar religious activities. It also seeks attorneys' fees and compensatory or nominal damages," for "emotional distress" and for the cost of homeschooling their son.

  • The suit says the religious activities led the parents to pull their son out of school to homeschool him.
A few points.

1. There is no separation of church and state. The First Amendment states, in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." A simple rendering of the English language refutes the concept of "separation of church and state." The Wilson County school system is not Congress, no laws have been made, and no religion has been established. Remember, the Bill of Rights was never intended as a restriction on individuals. It is a restriction on government that guarantees the civil liberties of individuals. By filing its lawsuit, the ACLU is attempting to enlist the government (the judiciary) to place restrictions on individuals. And if you want to argue the establishment clause, then I will argue the free exercise clause.

2. The ACLU is demanding that Lakeview Elementary end its Christmas play, its group of praying parents, recognition of the national day of prayer, and teacher-led prayer in class because of the wishes of one child's parents. Lakeview Elementary has an enrollment of 591 students, yet the school is expected to stop these things because of one student. What about the other 590 students?


  • School officials would not comment Thursday on the lawsuit, but several parents who were told of the legal action as they picked up their children from school said they stood behind the school in offering the religious activities.

  • "I think it's absurd that anybody would sue over that," said Donna Crowson, as she sat in line to pick up her two grandchildren at Lakeview. "They have a right to do that, I believe. The child doesn't have to participate. Parents don't have to participate."
  • Other parents said they were drawn to the school because of its Christian activities.
  • Mike and Cindy Davison, who have a kindergartner at the school, moved to Mt. Juliet from Davidson County eight years ago. The environment at Lakeview was a big factor in the decision, they said.

  • "As far as the curriculum and the environment and the staff, it's as close to a private school as you can get. I believe that goes along with the Christian theme they have," said Cindy Davison, who said her family reads the Bible every day.

3. The offended parents want retribution for the cost of homeschooling their child. That's odd, because there is a large and growing number of Christian parents who homeschool in order to avoid the secularism that pervades public school systems in the United States. I have yet to hear of one Christian parent suing a school district to recover the cost of homeschooling.

4. "But Mark," you ask, "what if it were a Muslim prayer instead of a Christian prayer?" That's not even a relevant question. We are not a Muslim community. We are a Christian community. That's not to say that every single resident of Mt. Juliet professes Christianity, but Christianity is the overwhelming religion of choice here, and Lakeview Elementary is simply reflecting the values of the community. Furthermore, if it were a Muslim prayer, I'm not convinced the ACLU would come after the school. After all, the ACLU isn't against religion. It's just against Christianity.

By the way, the Tennessean has excellent coverage of the story in today's paper:
Wilson County faces questions over religion in classroomProposed course in Wilson County uses Bible as only text, draws scrutiny

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Kevin said...

The author states: "A simple rendering of the English language refutes the concept of "separation of church and state."" I would think that all the lawsuits for decades and decades would disagree that it is 'a simple rendering...'
Clearly the congress is not the school--no one is arguing this. But Congress is a large part of the governement, and public schools are part of the government. The school, in allowing the school to be used for religious purposes, is establishing a religion. It is saying that yes, we accept this type of religion and when these 'praying parents' enter a classroom and hand out card to children (which children? All the children? Or just the Jewish ones? Or the Muslim ones? Or the kids who could care less about religion?) saying they are praying for them, then that singles out a child as being different. The classmates then treat that child different and therein lies the damage. Kids are not kind to those they see as being different. What are you going to say to the Jewish child when these Christian parents pray for him or her to see the light?
I say keep the practice of religion out of public schools. Teach religious history of all religions like they do here in California. If people want their kids to be prayed over, then send them to a private school. Of course, this probably wouldn't happen because private schools cost money and most people do not want to put their money where their mouth is...

Mark said...

But Congress is a large part of the governement, and public schools are part of the government.

Congress shall make no law. Public schools are not part of the federal govt.

kevin said...

"Public schools are not part of the federal govt." No? Please tell me what the U.S. Dept. of Education does then. And who helps pay for public schools?

So if I got a bunch of Muslim leaders and parents together to come to the school your kids go to and had them pray over her to help her see the Muslim light, you certainly wouldn't object to that, would you? If so, why?

Mark said...

Please tell me what the U.S. Dept. of Education does then.
Soak up tax payers money.

And who helps pay for public schools?
Tax payers.

So if I got a bunch of Muslim leaders and parents together to come to the school your kids go to and had them pray over her to help her see the Muslim light, you certainly wouldn't object to that, would you? If so, why?

Nope, not if I lived in a Muslim community. We are not talking about out of towners here dr Kevin. Read the post please.

Kevin said...

Yes Mark, I read the post. Muslims and Jews and Buddhists live in this country too, so if that school is happy with one religion coming into the classroom to pray, they are going to have to let all religions in. Of course, the school will not allow this, but if they want one, they are going to have to accept all of them.

Ruth said...

The school is not establishing a religion. It is, however, permitting the free expression that the First Amendment provides for.

Mark said...

Muslims and Jews and Buddhists live in this country too, so if that school is happy with one religion coming into the classroom to pray, they are going to have to let all religions in.

Yes Dr Kevin, and so do child molestors, 'witches', baby killers, illegals etc.. all of which have "religions"!

What part of 'the community is Christian' are you having a hard time understanding? Do you think our Republic is NOT the best place to live in the world? because it is based on Christ?

Explain yourself young professor. Because I would hate to think you as an educator with a Ph'd believe all opinions are of equal value. Otherwise why on earth would one seek a higher education like yourself?

:)

Mark said...

Ruth,
Welcome! and thank you. You nailed the point exactly. :)

kevin said...

Explain myself? I already have. If you believe that this school can let praying parents run around the school praying over kids, and if, like Ruth, you believe that this is a First Amendment issue, then that school must allow Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Manichaeans and all the rest of the religious world do the same.

My point is that if you allow Christianity in the schools and use the First Amendment to do it, you cannot possibly stop other religions from doing the same. And sorry Mark, child molestors, baby killers, illegals are not religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others. Your comparison does not work. Now witches might have their own religion, so you and that school would have to allow a bubbling cauldron and all the rest, since they should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights as well.

Is it the best republic to live in because it is based on Christ? Well, I'm not sure to tell you the truth. I lived in Australia for 7 years and absolutely loved it. Of course, I'm not sure if Australia is seen as a republic since the queen is technically in control there...But yes, it is just as good a place to live as the U.S.

And this young professor does believe that all opinions are of equal value. Now I just wish that my friend would allow all my comments to be posted instead of clipping out what he doesn't like to hear. :)

Mark said...

And this young professor does believe that all opinions are of equal value.

WOW! stunning.

again The First Amendment states, in part, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." A simple rendering of the English language refutes the concept of "separation of church and state." The Wilson County school system is not Congress, no laws have been made, and no religion has been established. Remember, the Bill of Rights was never intended as a restriction on individuals. It is a restriction on government that guarantees the civil liberties of individuals.

That said, the community does not have to allow any or all religions to do anything!

Kevin said...

We can go round and round on this issue. We'll see what the courts decide...