Thursday, March 04, 2010


Reality Bites

... the Cheatham County Tennessee Board of Education on the butt and they responded by voting to settle a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last fall. The ACLU had alleged a pattern of unconstitutional promotion of religion, as embodied in allegations such as these:

~ A band instructor who, while leading the marching band in practice for an upcoming football halftime performance, stopped and called on a particular student to pray.

~ A December 2007 concert where students sang Christmas and other seasonal songs and the choir director said something like, "We all know the reason we are here tonight, even if we are not allowed to say it" to the crowd.

~ A band Christmas concert in 2008 where students were asked to read lyrics or introductions to Christmas songs before the band played them. One of the plaintiffs was selected to read a religious lyric, but was reassigned a non-religious lyric after another student objected that it shouldn't be read by a non-Christian.

~ Distribution of Gideon Bibles inside classrooms at Cheatham Middle School, in which students were instructed to line up to receive Bibles and to write their names in them.

~ One high-school teacher displayed a foot-tall cross in his classroom next to a whiteboard used for student instruction. Another teacher required students to read and write about the biblical creation stories as an assignment for English class. A world history teacher introduced "intelligent design" as an acceptable alternative to evolution. An American history teacher read, in an angry tone, a handout emphasizing that the United States was founded as a "Christian nation" and criticizing the ACLU.

According to the lawsuit, the classroom incidents were not related to the general curriculum of the class or relevant to lessons being discussed that week.

The settlement sounds pretty comprehensive:

Under terms of the agreement, school officials will no longer encourage prayer or promote their personal religious beliefs to students in class or in conjunction with school activities and events. Invocations will no longer be permitted at graduation ceremonies or school functions and speakers will no longer be selected because of their religious affiliations.

In addition, school officials will no longer permit non-student third parties, such as members of The Gideons International, to distribute Bibles during school activities or instructional time.

School officials will not cite the Bible or other sacred texts as authority for historical or scientific fact to students and will make good faith-efforts to avoid holding school programs at religious venues.

However, as those of us who follow creationists well know, the sneakiness of True BelieversTM should never be underestimated. The freedom loving people of the county should be prepared to watch the school district to make sure it doesn't live down to its name.

Oh! The poor persecuted Christians, no longer permitted to preach to a captive audience of impressionable young minds!
... at taxpayer expense!
Was the case defended by the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe?
No, the Board was represented by the firm of Bender, Badger, Wheedle and Cajole, who had to use all the partners' talents to persuade the Board they were in the wrong and should settle.

Astonishing that one board member thought they should keep on fighting such an obvious loser.
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