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.
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