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Principal, Athletic Director Could Face Jail Time For Prayer





liljp617
Quote:
A principal and an athletic director in Florida could be charged with crimes and spend six months in jail after they prayed before a meal at a school event, the Washington Times reported.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,539741,00.html?test=latestnews

This is currently taking place in Florida. Frank Lay/Robert Freeman are accused of breaching the terms of a court settlement reached last year with the ACLU. The main issue seems to be whether or not students were present -- the attorneys defending Lay/Freeman say there weren't, while the ACLU claims there were students present.

I guess there's not a lot to discuss outside of whether you think they should face jail time, even if they did legitimately breach the settlement terms. It does seem a bit trivial, but at the same time they may have legitimately committed a criminal action by the terms of law and the law does have to be upheld.

The issue of prayer in school has been done to death, so I'm not too interested in that debate here..but if you deem it relevant, go head Razz


(I suppose this could go in another subforum, so move it if necessary)
Hogwarts
Washington Times wrote:
I have been defending religious freedom issues for 22 years, and I've never had to defend somebody who has been charged criminally for praying," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the Christian-based legal group that is defending the two school officials.

An authoritative figure in a state school indoctrinating a nation's youth to a religion... pretty much deserves that.

Daniel Mach, director of litigation for its freedom of religion program wrote:
"Decisions about the religious upbringing of children should be left in the hands of parents, not school officials," he said. As to whether prayer constitutes "religious upbringing," he said, "If school officials were promoting non-majority faiths and religious viewpoints, I suspect there'd be an uproar."

.. and this quote basically hits the nail on the head. If they want their children to have a Christian education (I have no idea why you would want that, but anyway), they should be sending their children to private schools. Otherwise, state schools should effectively remain impartial/agnostic.
Bikerman
Seems fairly clear to me. As usual Fox are misreporting the case. The crux of the matter is that the two have already been before a court on this matter and agreed not to do what they are now charged with.
"They're accused of violating the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the Times."
In other words they are liars and cheats.

Do they deserve prison? Yes, I think so. The only similar offence I can think of in British jurisprudence would be contempt of court - and you would CERTAINLY expect to 'go down' for that.
Indi
Hogwarts wrote:
Washington Times wrote:
I have been defending religious freedom issues for 22 years, and I've never had to defend somebody who has been charged criminally for praying," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the Christian-based legal group that is defending the two school officials.

An authoritative figure in a state school indoctrinating a nation's youth to a religion... pretty much deserves that.

Daniel Mach, director of litigation for its freedom of religion program wrote:
"Decisions about the religious upbringing of children should be left in the hands of parents, not school officials," he said. As to whether prayer constitutes "religious upbringing," he said, "If school officials were promoting non-majority faiths and religious viewpoints, I suspect there'd be an uproar."

.. and this quote basically hits the nail on the head. If they want their children to have a Christian education (I have no idea why you would want that, but anyway), they should be sending their children to private schools. Otherwise, state schools should effectively remain impartial/agnostic.

It is not merely a matter of attempting to indoctrinate the students (although, apparently the teachers were guilty of that, too!!!), it is about official sanction of any particular religion (although, this being the US, i might as well just say "Christianity") in a public institution.

The teachers, in this case, are using the defence "there were no students there". If i were the judge i'd shrug and say "so what" then charge them (because they've already admitted to the prayer, case closed).

There is so much misinformation and confusion about the rule against prayer in schools. These teachers are a fine example, because they don't even grok what they've done wrong:
Quote:
"He {Frank Lay} wasn't thinking he was violating an order," he {Liberty Council chairman Staver} said. "Neither did the athletic director. He was asked to pray and so he did."
(First of all, how dumb can you get and still be a principal in Florida? Good grief. And the athletics director is a bit of a tool too... he was asked to do it so he thought it was OK? Moron. It's not less illegal when someone asks you to do something illegal. Even if these people aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, were they all somehow asleep when they were getting their job training which told them not to perform religious rites at official events?)

No, it's not just about indoctrinating students, it's about employees of the government - which public school teachers are - acting in an official capacity - which they are doing when at school events - performing religious rites.

Of course, the students don't get that - they see this as "an attack on their religious freedom", which is absurd because no one's preventing them from doing anything religious (so long as they don't disrupt the freedoms of other students). But what's really depressing is that there's no one there to set them straight. If the faculty is as stupid as they appear to be, there won't be anyone to explain to the students why the ACLU's actions increase their freedom, rather than take it away. What would be karmically awesome is if they could replace the entire teaching staff at that school with a staff made entirely of fundamentalist Muslims, or Hindus, and then allow them to perform their religious rites in an official capacity. Then we'll see how long it takes everyone to wake up to the reality of why the ACLU is on their side, because no one can appreciate the importance of the anti-establishment laws until they can experience them from the point of view of a minority.

Bikerman wrote:
In other words they are liars and cheats.

That would seem to be in line with:
Quote:
{T}he Pace High School teachers handbook asks teachers to 'embrace every opportunity to inculcate, by precept and example, the practice of every Christian virtue.'
deanhills
Indi wrote:
It is not merely a matter of attempting to indoctrinate the students (although, apparently the teachers were guilty of that, too!!!), it is about official sanction of any particular religion (although, this being the US, i might as well just say "Christianity") in a public institution.
Thanks Indi. This is an important point. Either everyone has the right to pursue their religion as they wish, or no one should be allowed to discuss their views on religion or philosophical and moral beliefs in public schools. If some teachers should believe that the death penalty is wrong, then that would be wrong too by the same token. They may be influencing the children in their moral beliefs. If a teacher should preach in total admiration about Obama and what a wonderful President or Presidential candidate he is/was, then that should be outlawed too. As that would be influencing the political beliefs of school children. According to those arguments, teachers should shut up, keep their personal beliefs to themselves, and only teach the curriculum as given to them. Ideally teachers should be robots, sticking totally to the teaching of the state curriculum and have no personal beliefs at all, and ideally the children should be robots too, and perfectly behave and perfectly study only that which is stated in the curriculum. Is life really like that? Compare a school in Mississipi and in New York or Alaska, and it is all about people who are different, who are human, who believe in different things, and who should be free to express their beliefs as they are, including that they do not wish to be influenced by anybody. Take religion away, and everything else surrounding "influence" should be taken away too. I would rather have the religion there, and debate it there and the reason why people wish to not have a religion or have a religion, and teach children how to be tolerant of people with different beliefs, as opposed to legislating religion out of existence and prosecuting teachers left right and centre.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:


The teachers, in this case, are using the defence "there were no students there". If i were the judge i'd shrug and say "so what" then charge them (because they've already admitted to the prayer, case closed).


I disagree on that. It matters a lot if there were students present or not.
If the problem is indoctrinating students, then how could that be happening when there are no students around?

If that court order said that they could not pray at all, even without students present, then it seems to me that the court order would be blatantly unconstitutional.


Really it depends on this: Which one of these things were they actually doing?
A: Promoting their religion in an official capacity.
B: Practicing their religion 'privately' (not doing it in such a way that they were trying to be seen doing it.)

'A' could be prosecuted, especially if they had previous court orders against that.
'B' is protected by the constitution.

Hogwarts wrote:

Daniel Mach, director of litigation for its freedom of religion program wrote:
"Decisions about the religious upbringing of children should be left in the hands of parents, not school officials," he said. As to whether prayer constitutes "religious upbringing," he said, "If school officials were promoting non-majority faiths and religious viewpoints, I suspect there'd be an uproar."


That argument can go both ways...
Think of the outrage if a couple of Muslim teachers were being prosecuted for practicing their regular prayer times throughout the day...
Indi
deanhills wrote:
Indi wrote:
It is not merely a matter of attempting to indoctrinate the students (although, apparently the teachers were guilty of that, too!!!), it is about official sanction of any particular religion (although, this being the US, i might as well just say "Christianity") in a public institution.
Thanks Indi. This is an important point. Either everyone has the right to pursue their religion as they wish, or no one should be allowed to discuss their views on religion or philosophical and moral beliefs in public schools. If some teachers should believe that the death penalty is wrong, then that would be wrong too by the same token. They may be influencing the children in their moral beliefs. If a teacher should preach in total admiration about Obama and what a wonderful President or Presidential candidate he is/was, then that should be outlawed too. As that would be influencing the political beliefs of school children. According to those arguments, teachers should shut up, keep their personal beliefs to themselves, and only teach the curriculum as given to them. Ideally teachers should be robots, sticking totally to the teaching of the state curriculum and have no personal beliefs at all, and ideally the children should be robots too, and perfectly behave and perfectly study only that which is stated in the curriculum. Is life really like that?

Er... no, that's a little extremist.

There is nothing wrong with public employees having opinions, and nothing wrong with them expressing their opinions.

Of course, there is the question of time and place, because while they're doing their jobs is not the right time or place to preach about their personal opinions. A police officer on duty proselytizing about health care reform would be in the wrong. They are supposed to do their jobs, in an official capacity, not use their positions to push personal beliefs. Similarly, a teacher - an employee of the government, acting in an official capacity - should not be using their platform to push for whatever their personal beliefs should happen to be, religious or otherwise.

Teachers are free to have opinions and religion, and they're free to speak about their opinions and religion BUT NOT WHILE THEY ARE DOING THEIR JOBS AS TEACHERS. That's all there is to it.

(And in fact, as a practical example, one of those teachers being charged was, if i recall, a minister of some kind at the local church, as well as being a teacher. Which is fine. In church, or on his own time, he can trumpet his religion all he wants. But as soon as he puts on his teacher hat, he stops, and starts acting like the teacher he was hired to be. And if he can't handle that job requirement... then he should be fired.)

deanhills wrote:
Take religion away, and everything else surrounding "influence" should be taken away too. I would rather have the religion there, and debate it there and the reason why people wish to not have a religion or have a religion, and teach children how to be tolerant of people with different beliefs, as opposed to legislating religion out of existence and prosecuting teachers left right and centre.

That is a slippery slope fallacy, and is completely ridiculous.

No one is "legislating religion out of existence". They are just saying it doesn't belong in public schools. The purpose of school is not to debate religion, it is to teach the basic academic knowledge required to perform basic functions in a technological society, or to move on to more advanced education.

The only place religion has in school is as a subject of academic study, and high school is far to early to cover it in any intelligent way. The most you could accomplish in high school is telling the kids what some of the various religious beliefs are, so they would be aware of things like that some people don't eat beef and some don't eat pork. That is one day's worth of study in a subject like social studies.

But where the hell does praying fit into any of that? How does a teacher leading a prayer teach the kids to be tolerant? If they're of the same religion, they're just going to pray along. If they're not, they're either going pray along while learning little to nothing about the other religion, or they're going to pray along while still cursing the other religion under their breath, or they're going to feel really uncomfortable and out of place. Nothing of use is accomplished.

-------------------

This is what i meant when i said that no one understands what the prayer in school legislation is all about. It has nothing to do with preventing either teachers or students from praying... it is about prayer being made part of an official function of the (government run) school. If teachers or students want to pray, then they should go ahead... so long as it doesn't interfere with the operation of the school for its intended purpose, then go ahead. You have the right to pray and you have the freedom to pray whenever and wherever you want... provided you don't interfere with the function of the institution (which is true anywhere - you're free to protest whatever you want, but if you do it in a place of business and disrupt that business's function, then you will be arrested).

ocalhoun wrote:
Indi wrote:


The teachers, in this case, are using the defence "there were no students there". If i were the judge i'd shrug and say "so what" then charge them (because they've already admitted to the prayer, case closed).


I disagree on that. It matters a lot if there were students present or not.
If the problem is indoctrinating students, then how could that be happening when there are no students around?

That's exactly it. The problem is not the indoctrination of students. If that's what they're doing then they deserve an even worse punishment.

What they were doing wrong was violating the "establishment clause" of the first amendment. While acting in their official capacity as officers of the government - which public school teachers are - they cannot "establish" any religion (which means, make any religion officially sanctioned).

That was their crime, not indoctrinating students. Indoctrinating students in an official capacity would be a far more serious crime, worthy even of jail time (especially since they were already under a court order). But that wasn't the case here. Even if students were there, you can't really argue that leading a prayer is "indoctrinating students". All they were doing was officially sanctioning (a specific) religion in their official capacity as public employees. Who cares whether there were students there or not? That crime still stands.

ocalhoun wrote:
If that court order said that they could not pray at all, even without students present, then it seems to me that the court order would be blatantly unconstitutional.

False, and misleading.

It is misleading because you are misrepresenting what is happening here as banning all religious activity. That's not what any of this was ever about. It was always about banning religious activity while acting in an official capacity (as public school teachers).

It is false because it is perfectly constitutional to ban all religious activity under certain circumstances - one of those circumstances being while acting in an official government capacity. There are many other situations where all religious activity can (and is) banned - and they generally fall under two categories: situations where the religious activity might be construed as "establishment" by the government, and situations where the religious activity might interfere with public safety or private freedoms (you can't stand in front of a store and start praying if it's going to interfere with their business). This situation - students or no students - falls under the "establishment" category.

ocalhoun wrote:
Really it depends on this: Which one of these things were they actually doing?
A: Promoting their religion in an official capacity.
B: Practicing their religion 'privately' (not doing it in such a way that they were trying to be seen doing it.)

'A' could be prosecuted, especially if they had previous court orders against that.
'B' is protected by the constitution.

There is a third option: promoting their religion publicly while not acting in an official capacity. That is also protected by the constitution. One or both of the teachers is a minister. There's nothing wrong with that.

This was a school function. Thus it falls under A. Students or no. The constitution doesn't exist only for students, adults also have the right to interact with a state-sponsored body without having it promoting a particular religion.

ocalhoun wrote:
Hogwarts wrote:

Daniel Mach, director of litigation for its freedom of religion program wrote:
"Decisions about the religious upbringing of children should be left in the hands of parents, not school officials," he said. As to whether prayer constitutes "religious upbringing," he said, "If school officials were promoting non-majority faiths and religious viewpoints, I suspect there'd be an uproar."


That argument can go both ways...
Think of the outrage if a couple of Muslim teachers were being prosecuted for practicing their regular prayer times throughout the day...

You are subtly shifting the argument here. Mach is talking about school officials acting in an official capacity (hence the word "officials"). You are talking about people (who happen to be school officials) practising their religious freedoms in a non-official capacity.

Muslim teachers have every right to pray whenever they feel like it... provided it doesn't interfere with their job (obviously), and provided they don't do it in an official capacity. All students and teachers have the right to pray in school, provided they don't make it a part of the operation of the school in any way. No one is talking about taking those rights away.

If a couple of Muslim teachers were prosecuted for praying in their offices in private... well that would never happen, and even if it would it's not what Mach was talking about because there's no way you can call that "promoting" their religious viewpoint. If a couple of Muslim teachers were leading prayer time on school property... well that's exactly what Mach was talking about, and i don't doubt there would be an uproar about it.

So no, the argument does not go both ways.

----------------------------------

Let's put this in perspective. Even though there were (allegedly) no students present, this was an official school function. Put yourself in the shoes of a devout Muslim parent or teacher who went to this official school function... and then those idiots stood up and started a Christian prayer. You can't sit there through a Christian prayer, so you are now forced to leave. In other words, you have been forced out of an official school function because of the promotion of a specific religion that was not your own.

You see? This isn't theoretical, it's not about indoctrination, and it's not about atheists trying to "legislate religion out of existence". The establishment clause exists to protect your religious freedom, not to limit it. You should have the freedom to interact with the government (at least to go to official government functions, for goodness's sake) without being forced out because of the promotion of a religion other than your own. Those idiot students protesting don't understand that they're protesting against a law that protects their religious freedom... but i'll tell you this: they'll figure it out right quickly if they ever found themselves in a situation where they didn't happen to be part of the overwhelming majority religion.
deanhills
Indi wrote:
Teachers are free to have opinions and religion, and they're free to speak about their opinions and religion BUT NOT WHILE THEY ARE DOING THEIR JOBS AS TEACHERS. That's all there is to it.
Fine, Indi, but where do you draw the line then? If talking about religion is wrong, because it is "indoctrinating" children, then talking about any kind of moral belief would be wrong too. So when a teacher if teaching history for example, and has an opinion about Hitler for example that expresses a moral point of view, that should be equally wrong. As it would make an impression on children. A teacher could for example be joking about Hitler and the first Volkswagens, and how great Hitler was with getting the youth to take regular exercise. Etc. etc. Teaching just cannot be unbiased, try as hard as you wish. So if they want to start with religion, then they have to go for the whole shebang, or rather stop with "censoring" teaching! I am TOTALLY against that. We're teaching our children censorship.

Indi wrote:
No one is "legislating religion out of existence". They are just saying it doesn't belong in public schools. The purpose of school is not to debate religion, it is to teach the basic academic knowledge required to perform basic functions in a technological society, or to move on to more advanced education.
Is that right? They are not allowed to pray, nor talk about God, but it would obviously be OK to talk about racism? Again, one just can't get away from bias. And with legislation they have just censored religion.

Indi wrote:
This is what i meant when i said that no one understands what the prayer in school legislation is all about. It has nothing to do with preventing either teachers or students from praying... it is about prayer being made part of an official function of the (government run) school. If teachers or students want to pray, then they should go ahead... so long as it doesn't interfere with the operation of the school for its intended purpose, then go ahead. You have the right to pray and you have the freedom to pray whenever and wherever you want... provided you don't interfere with the function of the institution (which is true anywhere - you're free to protest whatever you want, but if you do it in a place of business and disrupt that business's function, then you will be arrested).
Great, but why do we need legislation for that? And if we do, which is a form of censorship as I stated above, where do we draw the line? And what are we really teaching our children?
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
Even if students were there, you can't really argue that leading a prayer is "indoctrinating students". All they were doing was officially sanctioning (a specific) religion in their official capacity as public employees. Who cares whether there were students there or not? That crime still stands.

That's kind of the difference I was trying to mention.
If they want to pray while wearing their teacher hats, that should still be constitutionally protected. They would cross the line if 'leading' a prayer in an official capacity; doing it as an official act, and expecting others to participate.
Quote:

This was a school function. Thus it falls under A. Students or no. The constitution doesn't exist only for students, adults also have the right to interact with a state-sponsored body without having it promoting a particular religion.

Well, of course, if it falls under 'A' (Promoting their religion in an official capacity), then of course it is prosecutable, I said so myself.

Just because you're employed by the government, though, doesn't mean you can't practice your religion while on duty.
Indi
deanhills wrote:
Indi wrote:
Teachers are free to have opinions and religion, and they're free to speak about their opinions and religion BUT NOT WHILE THEY ARE DOING THEIR JOBS AS TEACHERS. That's all there is to it.
Fine, Indi, but where do you draw the line then?

You draw it at exactly the point that separates "this is part of my job" and "this is not part of my job". It's not rocket science.

deanhills wrote:
If talking about religion is wrong, because it is "indoctrinating" children, then talking about any kind of moral belief would be wrong too.

Everything about this sentence is wrong.

First, talking about religion is not wrong. PROMOTING religion (while in an official capacity) is wrong. As is endorsing religion (while in an official capacity), performing religious acts (while in... i think you get the pattern now), and showing any bias toward or against any religion or no religion at all. If you can find some reason to talk about religion that doesn't fall into any of the above categories, then go nuts: and there are at least two. One is a private conversation between yourself and another person who are both on the same page (neither one is proselytizing to the other and neither is acting in an official capacity), and another is as an academic subject (for when you are actually studying religion, which shouldn't be done in high schools because it's too early).

Second, "talking about religion" is not wrong "because it is 'indoctrinating' children". It doesn't matter if children are present or not, or if you're attempting to indoctrinate or not. Promoting religion (while in an official... you know i shouldn't really have to be repeating this over and over, but i know the one time i don't someone is going to start whining about banning private prayer) is wrong because it violates the establishment clause of the US constitution. A public school teacher is an employee of the government, and a public school is a government institution. No government employee or institution can officially endorse any religion. Leading a prayer at a school function is an endorsement of Christianity at a government event. The presence or absence of children is irrelevant. The presence or absence of indoctrination is irrelevant.

And finally, the most depressing part: why does everyone conflate religion and morality? -_- Banning religion (if that was what was being done, which it's not) is not banning morality, it is banning religion. Saying that banning talking about religion means that you can't talk about morality is as ridiculous as saying that banning talking about religion means that you can't talk about diet or fashion, because, after all, many religions have rules about both morality and diet or fashion.

deanhills wrote:
So when a teacher if teaching history for example, and has an opinion about Hitler for example that expresses a moral point of view, that should be equally wrong. As it would make an impression on children. A teacher could for example be joking about Hitler and the first Volkswagens, and how great Hitler was with getting the youth to take regular exercise. Etc. etc. Teaching just cannot be unbiased, try as hard as you wish. So if they want to start with religion, then they have to go for the whole shebang, or rather stop with "censoring" teaching! I am TOTALLY against that. We're teaching our children censorship.

First of all, that is a completely absurd slipperly slope fallacy.

But if a history teacher has an opinion about Hitler, they should bloody well keep it to themselves. Their job is to teach history, not their own point of view. And, if it's a moral point of view... they are teaching history, not right and wrong. How on earth is that appropriate professional behaviour?

If a teacher makes a joke about Hitler while teaching history, there's nothing illegal about that, most of the time... but it would be pretty stupid. Many people have thin skins, and would probably scream to get the teacher fired if they found the joke offensive. While it's true that the teacher technically did nothing wrong (probably), that may not save their job. Bottom line, cracking a joke about Hitler in class is usually not illegal... but it may be a dumb idea. BUT... if they cracked a joke about Hitler that could be interpreted as an endorsement of hate of some kind, then yes, they could be fired for endorsing hate speech in class. (And the same goes for religion. If you want to crack a Jesus joke in class, it's usually not illegal, but you'd be pretty stupid to try it. However, if your joke could be interpreted as an endorsement for or bigotry against religion... then yes, you could be fired for either establishment, or hate speech.)

And finally, you're completely wrong. Teaching can absolutely be unbiased. All you have to do is follow the lesson plan and keep your opinions to yourself. They have no place in the classroom anyway. (When the hell would someone's opinions on religion be relevant to a discussion about history, math, science, languages... or any other standard high school subject... anyway?)

It's not censorship to tell people to shut the hell up and do their jobs. They are still free to express their opinions however they want when they are off duty. Seriously, think about it: if a movie projectionist was told to show GI Joe, but they felt - in their opinion - that GI Joe sucked and showed District 9 instead... would you consider that OK? Or how about if they showed GI Joe, but at certain points stopped the movie and made comments to the audience about why it sucks before starting it back up again? Would that be OK? Is the theatre owner "censoring" the projectionist when they tell them they can't do that? Because that's exactly what you're advocating. Teachers have a lesson plan, they have a curriculum to teach, and they're paid to teach it... and nothing else but what's in the plan. Their personal opinions are not on the lesson plan, i assure you.

deanhills wrote:
Is that right? They are not allowed to pray, nor talk about God, but it would obviously be OK to talk about racism? Again, one just can't get away from bias. And with legislation they have just censored religion.

Of course it's right. You know, religion doesn't have to be part of EVERY... SINGLE... FACET... of human existence. School teaches academics. That's that. That's its function. Religion is not part of academics (unless it's a course studying religion, which is beyond high school level, really). This is not "censorship" of religion, and it is not "legislating religion out of existence". It just... doesn't... belong there. There's no need for it, and it adds nothing of use to an academic curriculum. And... SHOCK!... there are these, like, institutions... that, like, exist for the sole purpose of teaching kids religion. They're called churches.

And - to correct you yet again - they are allowed to pray. i hope i won't need to repeat that again. Everyone, both students and teachers, is allowed to pray. They are just not allowed to make prayer part of the official operation of the school. Got it? It's like: you are allowed to own a gun... you're just not allowed to bring it to school because it doesn't belong there. Teachers are allowed to have sex... they just can't do it with their students. You are allowed to urinate whenever you want... you just can't do it in the middle of class. It's the same thing with religion. Clear now? Time and place matters. Religion is not being banned or censored, it is just not allowed as part of the school's operation, not because anyone hates it, but because it just bloody well doesn't belong there.

And no, it is most certainly not alright to talk about racism in school. Where on Earth did you get that crazy idea? The most a teacher can say about racism (or religion) under normal circumstances is: take it off of school property, do it on your own time, it's not allowed here. Both racism and religion are banned in schools (for different reasons, but generally for the same idea). In a class where it is part of the lesson plan, then they can discuss racism or religion academically (but, as always, not about their personal opinions). As a government institution, public schools cannot tolerate racism.
deanhills
Indi wrote:
First, talking about religion is not wrong. PROMOTING religion (while in an official capacity) is wrong.
I don't understand Indi, how can any teacher talk about religion at school without being seen as "indoctrinating" children when they do speak about religion? If children should ask a teacher why she/he is devout (children ask really weird questions), and that teacher gets to explain why she believes in God, at what point does she/he have to shut up? Or should they just say that regrettably they can't talk about religion, as that possibly this could be viewed by some as promoting religion?

Indi wrote:
Second, "talking about religion" is not wrong "because it is 'indoctrinating' children". It doesn't matter if children are present or not, or if you're attempting to indoctrinate or not. Promoting religion (while in an official... you know i shouldn't really have to be repeating this over and over, but i know the one time i don't someone is going to start whining about banning private prayer) is wrong because it violates the establishment clause of the US constitution. A public school teacher is an employee of the government, and a public school is a government institution. No government employee or institution can officially endorse any religion. Leading a prayer at a school function is an endorsement of Christianity at a government event. The presence or absence of children is irrelevant. The presence or absence of indoctrination is irrelevant.
I'm also getting tired Indi. If you get a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, and want their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held, they should get equal rights to those who feel that they do not want religion in their lives. Why should those who do not believe in religion have more rights than those who do believe in it?

And perhaps we need to define what indoctrination is? As I don't see prayers as indoctrination. I see prayers as praying. For me it is positive, like meditation.

I believe that there should not be an overly focus on religion, nor on science. We need to live with everything there is and learn to deal with it at school, instead of "banning" it from discussions, including problems surrounding racism. I must say Indi I'm really happy you were not my teacher. Good teachers "influence", "motivate", "inspire", and they don't do that by just giving lessons at school. They have opinions about not being racist, or not having religion at school, or being atheist, or not atheist. People need to be courageous, and teach children to be courageous to "come out" and discuss these issues instead of burying them behind legislation or taboos. Again, once you start censoring teachers, where will it end?

Quote:
And finally, the most depressing part: why does everyone conflate religion and morality? -_- Banning religion (if that was what was being done, which it's not) is not banning morality ....
My view as well. Perhaps if you understood what I had to say, you would have understood it that I agree with you on this too. I'm for tolerance of religion, as much as we have to have tolerance for anything else that has a component of morality in it (morality is certainly not exclusive to religion, and definitely not a definition of religion). Children should be taught to learn to deal with differences, study those differences, as religion is real, promotion of religion is REAL, promotion of atheism is also real, there is promotion of many beliefs at school, and all of that could also be regarded as promotion. The wrong part for me is not the attempt to promote, but the censoring and not dealing with it by hiding it behind legislation.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
The wrong part for me is not the attempt to promote, but the censoring and not dealing with it by hiding it behind legislation.

Reality check here... without the legislation, you'd have some very wrong stuff going on in schools sometimes...

History teacher:
"All right, students, for today's lesson, please turn to the book of Mark, chapter 12. Remember that we're going to be having a test Thursday, so pay attention."
Stuff like that does need to be illegal. Why? Because children are forced to go to school and listen to it.
miacps
deanhills wrote:
If you get a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, and want their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held, they should get equal rights to those who feel that they do not want religion in their lives.


That's what private schools are. They also have bible study. What more could a devout Christian family ask for?
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
The wrong part for me is not the attempt to promote, but the censoring and not dealing with it by hiding it behind legislation.

Reality check here... without the legislation, you'd have some very wrong stuff going on in schools sometimes...
Oh yes indeed. We don't even need to speculate - we KNOW. I, for example, was educated by Salesian monks. They HAD to teach basic evolutionary theory in biology because it was on the GCE and A level syllabi. The lessons were quite interesting - the teacher went quickly (and wrongly) through basic evolutionary theory, then ended the lessons each time by reminding us that this was 'only a theory' and that 'statistically speaking evolution is impossible'. That was, remember, a biology lesson for 17-18 year olds hoping to go on to university.
Now, that was over 30 years ago, so you might think that things have changed - and indeed they have to a large extent (please realise that I am describing the UK here, since I don't have experience in the US school system - but also bear in mind that the UK is comparatively secular compared with the US).
Now, we have schools in the UK which are built by private investment but qualify as 'state' schools (they are called 'city academies'). One of the companies involved is the Vardy Foundation, run by Peter Vardy - a builder who is also a creationist. He has a role in setting the 'ethos' of the school, as well as appointing staff. No surprise, then, to find that his schools are teaching creationism as fact.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
The wrong part for me is not the attempt to promote, but the censoring and not dealing with it by hiding it behind legislation.

Reality check here... without the legislation, you'd have some very wrong stuff going on in schools sometimes...

History teacher:
"All right, students, for today's lesson, please turn to the book of Mark, chapter 12. Remember that we're going to be having a test Thursday, so pay attention."
Stuff like that does need to be illegal. Why? Because children are forced to go to school and listen to it.
Why would we need to have legislation in place for it? Common sense says this is wrong. This teacher needs to be dealt with on a professional level. If you were a medical doctor, and trained in a certain way to deal with patients, surely you don't have to create public legislation to deal with the medical doctor, he would first be called in by the local medical director, and reprimanded, or if more serious there would be a medical board of enquiry into his actions. I believe that was the way teachers got dealt with in the past as well. Why make such a public spectacle out of this? What a waste of funding as well, as I can imagine the court cases must cost a pretty penny as well. Would have been much more cost-effective to have dealt with those teachers at their schools and to have allowed that money to be used to employ more math and science teachers.

I'm sure quite soon we will be getting teachers who will be suing people at the schools for the stress they have to endure as teachers. Life is tough enough for them, why prosecute them publicly, is it really necessary?

miacps wrote:
deanhills wrote:
If you get a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, and want their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held, they should get equal rights to those who feel that they do not want religion in their lives.


That's what private schools are. They also have bible study. What more could a devout Christian family ask for?
I thought that the majority of US citizens were following religion, shouldn't those who prefer their children not to be indoctrinated send their children to private schools, and those who follow religion get to stay in public schools? I'm not being facetious here. The legislation that is being discussed refers to overt promotion of religion, but I'm trying to say that religion is present, and by virtue of people being religious, there will always be religion present. You can't just legislate it away. You would have to legislate people who are religious away first. Which would in effect mean you would legislate away more than half of the US population. I don't think legislation like this is really effective, it is divisive, and counter-productive for getting people to be more tolerant of those who are religious or not religious. They need to be able to live together under one roof without having to legislate their positions.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
Why would we need to have legislation in place for it? Common sense says this is wrong. This teacher needs to be dealt with on a professional level. If you were a medical doctor, and trained in a certain way to deal with patients, surely you don't have to create public legislation to deal with the medical doctor, he would first be called in by the local medical director, and reprimanded, or if more serious there would be a medical board of enquiry into his actions. I believe that was the way teachers got dealt with in the past as well. Why make such a public spectacle out of this? What a waste of funding as well, as I can imagine the court cases must cost a pretty penny as well. Would have been much more cost-effective to have dealt with those teachers at their schools and to have allowed that money to be used to employ more math and science teachers.
Sorry Dean but this is nonsense.
How do you 'deal professionally' with someone indoctrinating children? That is the job of a teacher to some extent. It is up to society to define what is, and is not, acceptible - and we do that via legislation. The notion of hundreds of state education committees setting 'acceptible guidelines' for whether prayer is, or is not, allowed is quite barmy. The notion that they could then discipline teachers for any breach of that 'guideline' is even more barmy - the very first case would end up in the courts - I guarantee it. The unions would go ballistic.

The simple fact is that teachers were NOT dealt with in the past for such things - as my own history reveals. This pair did what they did DESPITE legislation. Do you seriously think that other 'committed' Christians would not do likewise WITHOUT legislation?

PS - your argument that, since the majority of US citizens profess some religious belief, that it should be up to the others to 'opt out' of prayers is deeply flawed. I will point out the flaws if you like, but I suspect a few minutes reflection on your part will reveal them without my intervention.
miacps
deanhills wrote:
miacps wrote:
deanhills wrote:
If you get a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, and want their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held, they should get equal rights to those who feel that they do not want religion in their lives.


That's what private schools are. They also have bible study. What more could a devout Christian family ask for?
I thought that the majority of US citizens were following religion, shouldn't those who prefer their children not to be indoctrinated send their children to private schools, and those who follow religion get to stay in public schools? I'm not being facetious here.


Separation of church and state.

Public schools are funded by American tax payers and our government is secular. Government employees must not go around promoting their particular flavor of theology while on the clock.

deanhills wrote:
The legislation that is being discussed refers to overt promotion of religion, but I'm trying to say that religion is present, and by virtue of people being religious, there will always be religion present. You can't just legislate it away. You would have to legislate people who are religious away first. Which would in effect mean you would legislate away more than half of the US population.


Wha? How about these religious teachers just not promote their religion while they're working?

deanhills wrote:
I don't think legislation like this is really effective, it is divisive, and counter-productive for getting people to be more tolerant of those who are religious or not religious. They need to be able to live together under one roof without having to legislate their positions.


How does having to sit through grace make non-Christians more tolerant towards Christians? I think it would have the opposite effect. You're there trying to eat and some guy is asking you to wait a moment while he talks to his invisible savior.
liljp617
Bikerman wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
The wrong part for me is not the attempt to promote, but the censoring and not dealing with it by hiding it behind legislation.

Reality check here... without the legislation, you'd have some very wrong stuff going on in schools sometimes...
Oh yes indeed. We don't even need to speculate - we KNOW. I, for example, was educated by Salesian monks. They HAD to teach basic evolutionary theory in biology because it was on the GCE and A level syllabi. The lessons were quite interesting - the teacher went quickly (and wrongly) through basic evolutionary theory, then ended the lessons each time by reminding us that this was 'only a theory' and that 'statistically speaking evolution is impossible'. That was, remember, a biology lesson for 17-18 year olds hoping to go on to university.
Now, that was over 30 years ago, so you might think that things have changed - and indeed they have to a large extent (please realise that I am describing the UK here, since I don't have experience in the US school system - but also bear in mind that the UK is comparatively secular compared with the US).
Now, we have schools in the UK which are built by private investment but qualify as 'state' schools (they are called 'city academies'). One of the companies involved is the Vardy Foundation, run by Peter Vardy - a builder who is also a creationist. He has a role in setting the 'ethos' of the school, as well as appointing staff. No surprise, then, to find that his schools are teaching creationism as fact.


It hasn't changed here. Legislation has been passed that requires Texas public schools to offer instruction in the literature and history of the Bible. Yes...requires -.-

They claim they're doing this because it "has had a profound impact on our history and government." How that BS excuse made it through is beyond me (well, I'm honestly not surprised, but it still hurts my head).
Indi
deanhills wrote:
I don't understand Indi, how can any teacher talk about religion at school without being seen as "indoctrinating" children when they do speak about religion?

Before i answer your question, two things.

First, to repeat myself yet again: THE PROBLEM IS NOT INDOCTRINATING THE CHILDREN. The problem is the establishment of any religion within a government institution.

Second, your question ignores another obvious question: why would a teacher want to talk about religion at school? You jump past that question - just assuming that a teacher should have the right to talk about religion - without considering it at all. What justifications are there for allowing teachers - who should, by all rights, be teaching their assigned subjects and not simply chit-chatting about whatever topics happen to pop into their heads - to discuss religion with other people's children, without the parents present to supervise?

Now, to answer the specific questions:

deanhills wrote:
If children should ask a teacher why she/he is devout (children ask really weird questions), and that teacher gets to explain why she believes in God, at what point does she/he have to shut up? Or should they just say that regrettably they can't talk about religion, as that possibly this could be viewed by some as promoting religion?

The point that they have to shut up is exactly the point where they stop teaching the subject they have been hired and are being paid to teach, and start talking about... whatever the hell else pops into their heads, whether that's their religion or not.

But if you would like to see a specific example of exactly what a good teacher should do if a child asks questions like that... how about this:

"Well, gee, little Susie. i have lots of reasons for believing in God. It just feels right to me to believe. i'll tell you what, little Susie... if you're curious about it, why not go home and ask your parents if you can stop by one of my prayer group's meetings? We have them a couple afternoons a week after school. Or, i have a couple of books and videos that might explain it, too. Tell your parents to give me a call, and if they say it's OK, then we'll work something out."

See? No one's "legislating religion out of existence". ^_^; No one's taking anyone's freedoms away - the teacher is still free to proselytize all they want... provided they do it off of government time and property. And if you were a parent, wouldn't you prefer to have some measure of control over who proselytizes what religion to your child? Everyone's more free this way. ^_^; The child has the freedom to learn academics without religion interfering (and the freedom to learn religion... outside of school... if they want it). The parent has the freedom to send their child to get a secular education, a religious education, or both, as they please. And the teacher has the freedom to do whatever the hell they want... on their own time. The only one who "suffers" a "loss of freedom" in any way... is that the teacher is now required to actually do their freaking job while at school and nothing else. Boo hoo, right? It's like living in a dictatorship when we actually make government employees do their jobs properly, right?

deanhills wrote:
I'm also getting tired Indi. If you get a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, and want their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held, they should get equal rights to those who feel that they do not want religion in their lives. Why should those who do not believe in religion have more rights than those who do believe in it?

They already have equal rights. ^_^; In fact, they can exercise those rights in several different ways. Here are just a few:
  • They can create a non-government-affiliated school, and run it as they please.
  • They can send the kids to school for an academic education and then to after-school classes for religious stuff.
  • They can get the kids to just get up, walk out of the school, cross the road (so they're off government property), pray their hearts out, then go back across the road, and go back to school... as many times a day as they want the kids to pray.

But seriously... why do you need official support for prayer? Why not just pray, without a teacher leading the prayer? Why is it necessary to disrupt the operation of an institution dedicated to teaching academics, in order to practise religion? Can't you just tell your kid to excuse himself, go to a quiet spot, and pray? Why do you have to ruin school for everyone who doesn't want to do praying and crap like that... just to satisfy your own irrational religious fervour?

deanhills wrote:
And perhaps we need to define what indoctrination is? As I don't see prayers as indoctrination. I see prayers as praying. For me it is positive, like meditation.

No, we really don't, for two reasons. First, it's already well-defined. And second, it's not relevant here. This is not about indoctrination. It is about the establishment of religion within a government institution.

If prayers really are like meditation, then why do you need official licence to do it? Why not just excuse yourself, find a quiet, out-of-the-way corner, and pray? You get your communion with your god, those with other gods can get their communion with their gods without you stepping on each others' rights, and those with no gods don't have to deal with any of it all? Everyone wins.

deanhills wrote:
I believe that there should not be an overly focus on religion, nor on science. We need to live with everything there is and learn to deal with it at school, instead of "banning" it from discussions, including problems surrounding racism.

See, on the one hand you pretend your trumpeting freedom. But then... this. You see, freedom means freedom - it means both the freedom to learn the points of view of other races or religions, and it means the freedom to not learn them if you don't want to. What you're describing, in point of fact, is ramming political correctness down the throats of the children whether they - or the parents - want it or not. What if a Muslim parent doesn't want their child to learn Christian points of view? What if a black parent doesn't want their child to learn racial tolerance, and just keep hating the white man? You're just going to tell them tough cookies?

You see, you keep looking at this as "banning religion"... when it's not. It is banning the official presence of religion... both teachers and students can still pray, they just can't make a show of it. It is giving people the freedom to not have to deal with religion if they don't want to - and if they want to, they can just do it off school property after classes. No one's being denied anything, just some people are being asked to keep it in their pants during the very short period of shared time, for the sake of freedom and equality for all. Is that really such a burden? Can you really not go a few hours - with breaks in between!!! - without putting on a big, public show of being religious... even for the sake of the freedom of others? Is your religion really more important than others' freedom?

deanhills wrote:
I must say Indi I'm really happy you were not my teacher. Good teachers "influence", "motivate", "inspire", and they don't do that by just giving lessons at school. They have opinions about not being racist, or not having religion at school, or being atheist, or not atheist. People need to be courageous, and teach children to be courageous to "come out" and discuss these issues instead of burying them behind legislation or taboos. Again, once you start censoring teachers, where will it end?

Dude, if you come to my class expecting to be "inspired" about religion, or political ideologies, or racial opinions... or "inspired" about anything other than the topic of the class... you're coming to the wrong class. ^_^; If i'm teaching C++, i'm teaching C++, i'm not teaching atheism. i'll motivate and inspire the hell out of you on the topic of C++... and nothing else. i'm not a professional teacher on paper - i've worked for the Peel board as a teacher (and the Peel Catholic Board, by the way, nyuk ^_^), but for adults, so i didn't need a licence - but i am a professional teacher by temperament... i'm in that class to teach the curriculum, not "mold" people to share my own personal beliefs about anything - that would just be disgustingly irresponsible. i would, and did, report someone for overstepping their professional bounds as a teacher (i reported a guy for campaigning for a political party to his class).

i am plenty courageous, and have no fear or shame about discussing any of my beliefs... but i am also responsible and professional, and i recognize what you don't seem to: that there are appropriate times and places to trumpet ones beliefs, and there are inappropriate ones. For example, i would never argue for or against a god while i was wearing the uniform. NEVER. When i put on my blues, i did the damn job i had been assigned to the best of my ability - nothing more, nothing less. And in the civilian world, i would never campaign for a political ideology while teaching a class. On my own time, i would do those things without fear or hesitation. Not while i have been entrusted with the responsibility to do a job where they are not part of the job.

i have absolutely no respect for the actions of these Santa Rosa teachers. None. They are dirt in my estimation, because they used the power of their position (what we refer to in the military as "position power") to do things that were outside of the jurisdiction of their job, for their own personal gain. They are criminals, just like politicians that take bribes. This isn't even a question of religion, because if they had been proselytizing for atheism, human rights or New Coke, i would think them just as much scum as i do now. They were teachers. They were granted a position of power and responsibility, and they abused it for their own personal goals (in this case, furthering their religion). Even if they hadn't broken the law, they've broken the professional code.

As i said, i'm not a professional teacher, but i think you'll find that any competent professional teacher would share those sentiments.

deanhills wrote:
Children should be taught to learn to deal with differences, study those differences, as religion is real, promotion of religion is REAL, promotion of atheism is also real, there is promotion of many beliefs at school, and all of that could also be regarded as promotion. The wrong part for me is not the attempt to promote, but the censoring and not dealing with it by hiding it behind legislation.

What beliefs do you think are being "promoted" at school, other than the facts of the academic curriculum, and "you all have to get along while you're at school"? School doesn't "promote beliefs", it teaches the academics that people have to know to function in a technological society. You don't need to "believe" anything you learn at school, and many groups advocate against it. If you want to believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old despite what they teach in science, go nuts... just learn the science curriculum enough to get the credit, and after that you're free to do what you want.

There is no "promotion" of atheism at school, there is only the teaching of human knowledge that doesn't include gods. Whoop-de-do. If you want to learn human knowledge that does include gods, go to a church. But since you don't need to know about gods - or any human knowledge that includes gods - to function as a member of a technological society... there is no need to teach knowledge that includes gods in school. It's as simple as that. School doesn't teach about gods, but neither does it teach that (or why) gods don't exist. If that's "promotion" of atheism, then not shooting someone is promotion of healthy living.

liljp617 wrote:
It hasn't changed here. Legislation has been passed that requires Texas public schools to offer instruction in the literature and history of the Bible. Yes...requires -.-

They claim they're doing this because it "has had a profound impact on our history and government." How that BS excuse made it through is beyond me (well, I'm honestly not surprised, but it still hurts my head).

Eh, it'll die if it ever gets challenged in court. The Americans have a good thing going for them, despite themselves. They're lucky that their constitution was written by people who had experienced intolerance by a religious government, and wanted to prevent it from happening in their new country.

You'd think that i can offer personal testimony to how horrible it is to be a non-Christian at a school that openly promoted Christianity, but in reality i just didn't care. i stood for the prayers and mumbled along, and i sat through religious studies classes. i hated it, and thought it was all nonsense, but eh. i got by. But i do feel sorry for the Muslim kids at that school. i could tell you how much they didn't enjoy the idea of prayer in school... not one tiny bit... but that's for another post.
Bikerman
indi wrote:
As i said, i'm not a professional teacher, but i think you'll find that any competent professional teacher would share those sentiments.

I am and I do.
Quote:
Eh, it'll die if it ever gets challenged in court. The Americans have a good thing going for them, despite themselves. They're lucky that their constitution was written by people who had experienced intolerance by a religious government, and wanted to prevent it from happening in their new country.
Absolutely - let me emphasise this.
I am a Brit and, on the whole, fairly happy to be so. There are a few things I wish we could 'import' from the US and this is most certainly one of them.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:

They can get the kids to just get up, walk out of the school, cross the road (so they're off government property), pray their hearts out, then go back across the road, and go back to school... as many times a day as they want the kids to pray.

Wait a second... Children need to leave school property to pray now?
Indi
Bikerman wrote:
Quote:
Eh, it'll die if it ever gets challenged in court. The Americans have a good thing going for them, despite themselves. They're lucky that their constitution was written by people who had experienced intolerance by a religious government, and wanted to prevent it from happening in their new country.
Absolutely - let me emphasise this.
I am a Brit and, on the whole, fairly happy to be so. There are a few things I wish we could 'import' from the US and this is most certainly one of them.

Hm, yes. We got ourselves an absolute mess here in Canada because when Canada "confederated" - when the various French and British colonies came together to form the unified federal Canada - we got cruft from both French and British law. In all honesty, they did their best - they really did - and the religious provisions in the Canadian Constitution are, in their own way, a proto-guarantee of religious freedom... it's just that they saw the extent of "religion" as French Catholics and British Protestants, so they explicitly wrote only those religions into the Constitution (whereas the American Constitution just said "religion").

And so the Catholic school board exists... publicly funded... yet when Jewish Canadians tried to petition for equal funding (or at least, less funding for Catholic and more for secular), they were told no, because the Catholics were granted the right explicitly in the constitution, and it can't be taken away... but Jews weren't. Yay for religious tolerance, right?

That's basically where it's at now in Canada: the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) gave formal and absolute guarantee of freedom of religion... but at the same time it explicitly (****** sec 29 -_-) did not take away the special privileges that had been granted to a handful of religions by the original Constitution (1867).

Eh, we'll get it right eventually, eh? Third time's a charm, right?

Besides, the Americans had it easy. The only compromises they had to make in their Constitution were to slave owners... they weren't trying to unite colonies with different religious and ethnic backgrounds - and different languages! - they were just trying to unite a handful of Protestant English settlers.

ocalhoun wrote:
Wait a second... Children need to leave school property to pray now?

Good grief. -_- This is what i meant when i said: "(while in an official [capacity]... you know i shouldn't really have to be repeating this over and over, but i know the one time i don't someone is going to start whining about banning private prayer)".

Children need to leave school property to pray if (i didn't state this explicitly in the answer because it was part of the question) "a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, [wants] their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held". In other words, if you want an organized, official prayer time, then yes, you need to get off school property to have it.

But as i've also said: "But seriously... why do you need official support for prayer? Why not just pray, without a teacher leading the prayer? Why is it necessary to disrupt the operation of an institution dedicated to teaching academics, in order to practise religion? Can't you just tell your kid to excuse himself, go to a quiet spot, and pray?" In other words, if you just want to pray without making a spectacle of it, go ahead. Prayer is not banned in schools, only official endorsement of prayer.
Bikerman
Indi wrote:

That's basically where it's at now in Canada: the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) gave formal and absolute guarantee of freedom of religion... but at the same time it explicitly (****** sec 29 -_-) did not take away the special privileges that had been granted to a handful of religions by the original Constitution (1867).

Eh, we'll get it right eventually, eh? Third time's a charm, right?
LOL.
Well, here in the UK things are very messy. Obviously the first major point is that we still have an 'established' Church. Within the state education system there is a national curriculum which is very prescriptive. Interestingly enough there is no national curriculum for RE/Religious studies - this is left to individual Local Education Authorities (basically the individual counties) and is 'guided' by committees in each (called the SACREs).
We currently (on the science forums) have an ongoing 'debate' with one particular SACRE that is considering publishing guidelines about addressing creationism/ID in the curriculum.
Unfortunately I can't see any change on the horizon. Schools are still required to 'maintain collective worship' for the pupils:
http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/atoz/c/collectiveworship/
In practice there is sufficient 'wriggle room' that most schools interpret this very loosely indeed - in fact you could say that this is a classic example of 'English compromise' in action.
I wish it were otherwise though....
Afaceinthematrix
Indi wrote:
Children need to leave school property to pray if (i didn't state this explicitly in the answer because it was part of the question) "a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, [wants] their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held". In other words, if you want an organized, official prayer time, then yes, you need to get off school property to have it.


Why?
Quote:
"a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, [wants] their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held"


I agree with that, but not with:
Quote:
In other words, if you want an organized, official prayer time, then yes, you need to get off school property to have it.


Those may be "other words," but they do not mean the same thing. There is a subtle difference.

Having an organized and official prayer time is only wrong if it's endorsed by the school or some other government organization. If it's organized by students or non-government employees and it's not required, then I see nothing wrong with it (as long as it doesn't interfere with school time).

Have you ever heard of "See You at the Pole?"

Quote:
See You at the Pole™ is a student-initiated, student organized, and student-led event. That means this is all about students meeting at their school flagpole to pray—for their school, friends teachers, government, and their nation. See You at the Pole™ is not a demonstration, political rally, nor a stand for or against anything.

See You at the Pole™ is scheduled annually on the fourth Wednesday in September, which is September 23 in 2009. The suggested starting time is 7 a.m. If that doesn't work for your school, choose a time that will work for your school, but let everyone at your school know!

http://www.syatp.com/info/

That happened every single year at my school. But given that it started at 7 A.M., an hour before school starts, there was nothing wrong with it. People can pray on school property before school.

My school also had a Bible Study that was ran by students and a pastor at a local church during lunch. This pastor did it every year at the local schools. He would pick one day of the week for each school and go to that school at lunch time and hold a Bible Study in a classroom that was voluntarily given up by a supporting teacher. That was ran like any other student organization. They still had to file all of the paperwork. Many people felt that the school was endorsing a religion by allowing a Bible Study to happen in one of their classrooms at lunch, giving it a page in the yearbook, and announcing it over the morning announcements, but I disagree. They were just doing the same thing that they did for all other clubs (by advertising it on the morning announcements periodically, giving it a page in the yearbook, and allowing it to happen). I saw nothing wrong with this "official prayer" on school property because it was voluntary and on lunch time.

Of course that is off-topic and you may not even see anything wrong with that either. I was just responding to that one sentence because I did disagree with it.

Also, an opinion is not always a bad thing. Some people here felt that teachers should never share their opinions. There is a time and place for it, this just wasn't it.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:

PS - your argument that, since the majority of US citizens profess some religious belief, that it should be up to the others to 'opt out' of prayers is deeply flawed. I will point out the flaws if you like, but I suspect a few minutes reflection on your part will reveal them without my intervention.
Maybe this should be for another debate. My mind is still on the same tract with regard to "society's rules" in this specific instance. It is beginning to get like that story "Animal Farm", where the piggies get to change the rules or add new ones all the time. I have not seen any improvement at schools as a result of all the additional rules, the more rules the more complicated it gets, the more interpretation that is needed. Resulting in more court cases, parents complaining, teachers being prosecuted and children confused.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
Maybe this should be for another debate. My mind is still on the same tract with regard to "society's rules" in this specific instance. It is beginning to get like that story "Animal Farm", where the piggies get to change the rules or add new ones all the time. I have not seen any improvement at schools as a result of all the additional rules, the more rules the more complicated it gets, the more interpretation that is needed. Resulting in more court cases, parents complaining, teachers being prosecuted and children confused.
Since you say that you don't live in the US and, I presume, you don't have children in US schools, then I would like to know the basis for this statement that you 'have not seen any improvement'. How many court cases do you think were prompted by this particular legislation ?
Indi
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Indi wrote:
Children need to leave school property to pray if (i didn't state this explicitly in the answer because it was part of the question) "a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, [wants] their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held". In other words, if you want an organized, official prayer time, then yes, you need to get off school property to have it.


Why?

For the same reasons that a group of students can't decide to allow a business to set up an office on school property. School property is government property, and it exists for the purpose of conducting education. Even with student consent (and without any official institutional support), you can't use school property to conduct non-school business... and running a church in the gym (for example) would count, even if it were done on lunch time.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Quote:
"a community, which feels very seriously about their religion, [wants] their children to be part of a school where regular prayers are held"


I agree with that, but not with:
Quote:
In other words, if you want an organized, official prayer time, then yes, you need to get off school property to have it.


Those may be "other words," but they do not mean the same thing. There is a subtle difference.

Having an organized and official prayer time is only wrong if it's endorsed by the school or some other government organization. If it's organized by students or non-government employees and it's not required, then I see nothing wrong with it (as long as it doesn't interfere with school time).

Outside groups cannot use school property for private affairs, even with student consent.

Besides, i don't think you understand what "endorse" means. >_< You don't have to stand up and say "i approve this religious service in the classroom (when classes are not running)" to endorse it. You are implicitly endorsing it if you provide the classroom for their use. You don't even need to be endorsing the specific religion to be endorsing the idea of religion.

Do you think this argument will stand up in court, or even just in the popular opinion?: "The students - just students, not teachers - came to me and asked if they could use the empty classroom to have some KKK leaders run a workshop on white supremacy. Although i allowed them to use the room and the facilities in the room, i did not endorse the event!" Well, yeah, buddy, you did. You may not endorse the KKK or their beliefs - you may not endorse hate speech - but you did endorse the advocacy of hate speech at school.

So even if the school didn't run the event and claimed they don't endorse the beliefs that were taught, they did endorse the religion being taught at school by allowing their facilities - government facilities - to be used for the purpose. That's verbotten.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Have you ever heard of "See You at the Pole?"

Quote:
See You at the Pole™ is a student-initiated, student organized, and student-led event. That means this is all about students meeting at their school flagpole to pray—for their school, friends teachers, government, and their nation. See You at the Pole™ is not a demonstration, political rally, nor a stand for or against anything.

See You at the Pole™ is scheduled annually on the fourth Wednesday in September, which is September 23 in 2009. The suggested starting time is 7 a.m. If that doesn't work for your school, choose a time that will work for your school, but let everyone at your school know!

http://www.syatp.com/info/

That happened every single year at my school. But given that it started at 7 A.M., an hour before school starts, there was nothing wrong with it. People can pray on school property before school.

People can pray on school property during school. This strikes me as just a misguided publicity stunt.

Nothing about that event has any official stamp of approval. You don't need school consent to meet and gather, and you don't need it to stand by the flagpole. The event doesn't interfere with the operation of the school, and it isn't (or at least it better not be) coercive to students who are not interested. So nothing about this event violates the law.

These people just don't understand the law. If they want to gather and pray (by the flagpole or otherwise... why not indoors if the weather's bad?... ah, of course, the flagpole location is symbolic, linking God and country... "not political" my ass) then go ahead and do it, any time of the day you like. Just don't attempt to interfere with school functions, and don't harass other students.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
My school also had a Bible Study that was ran by students and a pastor at a local church during lunch. This pastor did it every year at the local schools. He would pick one day of the week for each school and go to that school at lunch time and hold a Bible Study in a classroom that was voluntarily given up by a supporting teacher. That was ran like any other student organization. They still had to file all of the paperwork. Many people felt that the school was endorsing a religion by allowing a Bible Study to happen in one of their classrooms at lunch, giving it a page in the yearbook, and announcing it over the morning announcements, but I disagree. They were just doing the same thing that they did for all other clubs (by advertising it on the morning announcements periodically, giving it a page in the yearbook, and allowing it to happen). I saw nothing wrong with this "official prayer" on school property because it was voluntary and on lunch time.

Now that is clearly illegal, on several counts. You can't hold church in a classroom on school property... regardless of whether the students want it or not. The school most certainly was endorsing religion by allowing school facilities to be used for religious purposes. Giving them a yearbook page was also endorsement - the yearbook is an official school publication, regardless of the fact that the editors are students. Even allowing the PA system to be used to announce the event was a constitutional violation... the PA system is government property.

The "it was just like other clubs" argument is absolutely ridiculous. Think about it: "Oh, yeah, there was this swingers club where all the students would have orgies in a classroom after school. But it did all the paperwork other clubs did (and it was run only by students), so it was just like any other club." Come on. -_- If the group's precepts are wrong right from the start, who cares if their paperwork is in order? i mean, really.

If the students want to have a "Bible club", fine, let them. There's nothing illegal about meeting and discussing the Bible (again, i'm assuming it's not coercive in any way) provided there is no official endorsement. Allowing a classroom to be used as a church is clearly an official endorsement. Why is it different allowing a classroom to be used as a church versus allowing it to be used as a contest venue for the chess club (for example)? Because the school is mandated to provide social education as well as academic education (and other forms of education, as well - like physical education), and chess (and competitions) count. Religious education is not part of the package.

If you want to have a "Bible Study" run by students and a pastor at a local church during lunch, do it at the local church. Because why the hell not? -_- He has a freaking church for that! Use it! School is for other purposes, not religion, so just freaking leave it be to do what it's mandated to do.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Also, an opinion is not always a bad thing. Some people here felt that teachers should never share their opinions. There is a time and place for it, this just wasn't it.

Teachers are as free to share their opinions as anyone else... just not when they're doing their job (as is true for anyone else).

deanhills wrote:
My mind is still on the same tract with regard to "society's rules" in this specific instance. It is beginning to get like that story "Animal Farm", where the piggies get to change the rules or add new ones all the time. I have not seen any improvement at schools as a result of all the additional rules, the more rules the more complicated it gets, the more interpretation that is needed. Resulting in more court cases, parents complaining, teachers being prosecuted and children confused.

If you are seeing rules "changing" or "being added" all the time, then you are doing it yourself. There is one rule. It has been in place since the first amendment was ratified in 17xx (i don't know exactly when). Nothing has changed, nothing has been added, nothing is being reinterpreted. It's not an unreasonable rule: it's simple and clear. The government should not endorse any religion.

The number of court cases is not due to confusion about what the rules are. It is due to religious groups and people not caring about them, or trying to sneak around them. You can't seriously believe that the two teachers mentioned in this have a legitimate argument for being confused about what the rules were. Even if they were confused before the first court case... you can't legitimately claim they were still confused after the settlement that even explicitly forbade teachers leading prayer at official school events!!! Either they are monumental idiots, or they're lying: they didn't care about the law, or thought they were being heroes by defying it.

The fact that prayer being forbidden in schools is only a recent addition to the public consciousness is not due to the rules changing, it is due to the fact that in the past there wasn't anyone who stood up and demanded the rules be followed. America is more diverse now than it was in the past, so only now are groups outside of the local mainstream religions getting large enough and organized enough to speak out. The laws haven't changed, the people are only now demanding that they be enforced.

The facts are clear, both in history and even today: the religious groups are not going to do the right thing on their own initiative. They're going to have be called out by brave people who stand up for what is, and what has always been, the law. Then they are going to try to weasel and snivel their way around the law... and they will get caught. Just look at the court cases to see that what i say is true.
deanhills
Afaceinthematrix
Indi wrote:
For the same reasons that a group of students can't decide to allow a business to set up an office on school property. School property is government property, and it exists for the purpose of conducting education. Even with student consent (and without any official institutional support), you can't use school property to conduct non-school business... and running a church in the gym (for example) would count, even if it were done on lunch time.


Generally I would agree that churches are a business, but businesses have to make money. This Bible study was simply a lunch hour talk by the pastor of a local church. Donations were not taken; fundraisers were not ran; nothing that would make it a business existed in it. It was more of a seminar or club - both of which are allowed.


Quote:
Outside groups cannot use school property for private affairs, even with student consent.

Besides, i don't think you understand what "endorse" means. >_< You don't have to stand up and say "i approve this religious service in the classroom (when classes are not running)" to endorse it. You are implicitly endorsing it if you provide the classroom for their use. You don't even need to be endorsing the specific religion to be endorsing the idea of religion.

Do you think this argument will stand up in court, or even just in the popular opinion?: "The students - just students, not teachers - came to me and asked if they could use the empty classroom to have some KKK leaders run a workshop on white supremacy. Although i allowed them to use the room and the facilities in the room, i did not endorse the event!" Well, yeah, buddy, you did. You may not endorse the KKK or their beliefs - you may not endorse hate speech - but you did endorse the advocacy of hate speech at school.

So even if the school didn't run the event and claimed they don't endorse the beliefs that were taught, they did endorse the religion being taught at school by allowing their facilities - government facilities - to be used for the purpose. That's verbotten.


It's taking a stance on an issue. You mentioned letting the KKK run a workshop for white supremacy. That would be a political workshop that would not be allowed. Many other political clubs and groups were allowed... In fact, my school had a JSA (http://www.jsa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=60).

Why can't the KKK have a club promoting their political agendas while people with the Republican agenda can have a Young Republican Club? What's the difference? Well most people would agree that the KKK promotes hatred, bigotry, and violence. That's why. That point was silly and I cannot even believe you brought it up. It's taking a stance on an issue.

Here, you just have a group of students who are Christians and want to study the content of the Bible at lunchtime. They are not promoting hatred, violence, or anything that the KKK would promote. All they're doing is getting a local youth pastor and then approaching a teacher and saying, "Hey, can we please use your classroom during lunch on Mondays so that we can have a quiet place to discuss the Bible?" No harm is being done.

What would you do, as a campus supervisor (rule enforcer), if you saw a group of kids sitting at a lunch table, during lunch, reading the Bible and discussing it? Well you cannot do anything because they're not breaking any rules. There's no rule against reading a book at lunch and having a discussion with your friends. It's loud outside. So why not just let this group of well behaved students have a quiet place to discuss (the library isn't an option because you cannot talk in there)?

Quote:
People can pray on school property during school. This strikes me as just a misguided publicity stunt.

Nothing about that event has any official stamp of approval. You don't need school consent to meet and gather, and you don't need it to stand by the flagpole. The event doesn't interfere with the operation of the school, and it isn't (or at least it better not be) coercive to students who are not interested. So nothing about this event violates the law.

These people just don't understand the law. If they want to gather and pray (by the flagpole or otherwise... why not indoors if the weather's bad?... ah, of course, the flagpole location is symbolic, linking God and country... "not political" my ass) then go ahead and do it, any time of the day you like. Just don't attempt to interfere with school functions, and don't harass other students.


Well if the weather was bad and the school decided to provide them with a classroom so that they can pray inside, it would be illegal according to you. Remember? My school already tried that and you thought it was wrong.

Quote:
Now that is clearly illegal, on several counts. You can't hold church in a classroom on school property... regardless of whether the students want it or not. The school most certainly was endorsing religion by allowing school facilities to be used for religious purposes. Giving them a yearbook page was also endorsement - the yearbook is an official school publication, regardless of the fact that the editors are students. Even allowing the PA system to be used to announce the event was a constitutional violation... the PA system is government property.

The "it was just like other clubs" argument is absolutely ridiculous. Think about it: "Oh, yeah, there was this swingers club where all the students would have orgies in a classroom after school. But it did all the paperwork other clubs did (and it was run only by students), so it was just like any other club." Come on. -_- If the group's precepts are wrong right from the start, who cares if their paperwork is in order? i mean, really.

If the students want to have a "Bible club", fine, let them. There's nothing illegal about meeting and discussing the Bible (again, i'm assuming it's not coercive in any way) provided there is no official endorsement. Allowing a classroom to be used as a church is clearly an official endorsement. Why is it different allowing a classroom to be used as a church versus allowing it to be used as a contest venue for the chess club (for example)? Because the school is mandated to provide social education as well as academic education (and other forms of education, as well - like physical education), and chess (and competitions) count. Religious education is not part of the package.


And where are these students supposed to have their "Bible club" if they do not have a classroom to use? During high school, I went to chess club in a classroom and I went to math club in a classroom.

Again, you're being ridiculous. "There was this swingers club where all the students would have orgies in a classroom after school..." Take a stance on an issue! First off, public display of affection is against school rules to begin with. That's why the club wouldn't be allowed. Reading the Bible and having a discussion isn't against the rules! That's why that club was allowed to exist. Pretty much any club is allowed, as long as it is within guidelines.

You also keep mentioning that it's illegal. Prayer in schools was outlawed because it violates a constitutional right for the freedom of religion. That's what the problem is. Simply saying over the PA, "If you're interested in studying the Bible, then you're invited to room 123 at lunch time" does not affect anyone's freedom of religion. It's not coercive, mandatory, or even endorsed... It's announced by a student reading a script that was written by someone who wants to let all the students know what clubs are available for the school year. That's it! I'm not a Republican, so was it wrong when the Young Republican Club was announced? No! Now what would have been wrong, is if the school allowed a Christian Bible Study club to happen but not a Muslim Koran Study class or an Atheist club. But.... that Fortunately did not happen. I asked if I could form an Atheist club just to see if I could, and I was given permission. I just did not go through with it because I had no desire to (and I was one of veeerrryyy few atheists at my school anyways).

Quote:
If you want to have a "Bible Study" run by students and a pastor at a local church during lunch, do it at the local church. Because why the hell not? -_- He has a freaking church for that! Use it! School is for other purposes, not religion, so just freaking leave it be to do what it's mandated to do.


He did use his church. He just wanted to help out the students at the local schools who wanted a place to learn about the Bible at school during lunch time. This idea started when a group of students approached him and asked him to do it.

Quote:
Teachers are as free to share their opinions as anyone else... just not when they're doing their job (as is true for anyone else).


So literature should never be taught? Many stories are subject to interpretation and generally any opinion is accepted as long as it is backed up with evidence from the story. I guess teachers should never grade papers either (unless they're multiple choice with a definite right and wrong answer). Essays can be subjective and an educated opinion and usually needed.

I have taught a little on a nonprofessional level and I occasionally give my opinion because it is helpful. Telling a class that Chapter 11 is, in my opinion, much more interesting than Chapter 10 is usually a good way to encourage students who didn't do too well in Chapter 10.
Indi
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Indi wrote:
For the same reasons that a group of students can't decide to allow a business to set up an office on school property. School property is government property, and it exists for the purpose of conducting education. Even with student consent (and without any official institutional support), you can't use school property to conduct non-school business... and running a church in the gym (for example) would count, even if it were done on lunch time.


Generally I would agree that churches are a business, but businesses have to make money. This Bible study was simply a lunch hour talk by the pastor of a local church. Donations were not taken; fundraisers were not ran; nothing that would make it a business existed in it. It was more of a seminar or club - both of which are allowed.

Actually, it wasn't a seminar or a club, and it was a business - it was simply dealing in faith, not money, which is not currency acceptable for trading on school property. See, if it were a seminar or a club, it would be discussing religion, not trying to sell it. But i don't think that you seriously believe there was any real discussion taking place. "Discussion" includes dissent. What do you think would have happened if someone had stood up in one of these little prayer meetings and said: "i think this is all bunk. i think the whole thing is complete fantasy. i think the Bible was written by semi-literate sheep herders, and is less divine than a copy of Hustler. i think churches are pyramid schemes suckering the most vulnerable portion of society." That's an opinion. A real discussion should consider that opinion. A real discussion should consider any alternative opinion so long as it is not presented in a disruptive way. i don't think you seriously believe that's how those "discussions" were being run, right?

Think of it this way: any school-sanctioned event should be open to any student, provided they don't disrupt the event. Do you think that if a gang of non-Christians - made up of atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, whatever - showed up and started questioning the claims being made by the pastor, that the event wouldn't degrade into a disaster? Do you really believe that the event was designed with the intention of being for all students, and not simply believers and suckers that might be convinced?

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
It's taking a stance on an issue. You mentioned letting the KKK run a workshop for white supremacy. That would be a political workshop that would not be allowed. Many other political clubs and groups were allowed... In fact, my school had a JSA (http://www.jsa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=60).

i don't know what the JSA is, but political clubs are certainly allowed if they teach the students about politics and civics. Obviously events that are solely for the purpose of advocating a particular political position are not acceptable - you can't have a Democratic political rally at school. But clubs that teach politics in general, or civics, are definitely part of the curriculum.

The KKK is not a "political workshop", not by any reasonable definition - maybe by their own definition the KKK is a political group, but by any reasonable person's definition they are a hate group: a white supremacist organization.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Why can't the KKK have a club promoting their political agendas while people with the Republican agenda can have a Young Republican Club? What's the difference. Well most people would agree that the KKK promotes hatred, bigotry, and violence. That's why. That point was silly and I cannot even believe you brought it up. It's taking a stance on an issue.

No, sorry, your understanding is flawed. i don't know about the Young Republican Club in particular, but i know the type: it's a club where students get to ape their favourite politicians (in this case, Republicans) in order to learn about the political process and current political issues. That's within the bounds of education. Their group may have a particular slant on the issues, but so what? They're still teaching about the political system and civics.

See, bias is not the problem. The problem is whether or not the club provides anything of educational value. Even if the Young Republican Club discusses politics from a biased perspective... the bottom line there is that they discuss politics. i'd bet they teach the kids how to contact their local state and federal government representatives, and even how one might go about putting together a survey or possibly even running for office eventually (they may even intern with politicians). That's all educational, because learning how the country is run is part of learning how to function in it. That Young Republican Club: are they not teaching the kids how to be politicians? Isn't "politician" a legitimate professional career in society? That's educational.

The KKK teach nothing of any value from an educational perspective, and neither does any religion. How are either of those organizations going to teach you anything to help you function as a better member of society?

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Here, you just have a group of students who are Christians and want to study the content of the Bible at lunchtime. They are not promoting hatred, violence, or anything that the KKK would promote. All they're doing is getting a local youth pastor and then approaching a teacher and saying, "Hey, can we please use your classroom during lunch on Mondays so that we can have a quiet place to discuss the Bible?" No harm is being done.

What would you do, as a campus supervisor (rule enforcer), if you saw a group of kids sitting at a lunch table, during lunch, reading the Bible and discussing it? Well you cannot do anything because they're not breaking any rules. There's no rule against reading a book at lunch and having a discussion with your friends. It's loud outside. So why not just let this group of well behaved students have a quiet place to discuss (the library isn't an option because you cannot talk in there)?

You keep changing the parameters of your question. i can't give you a straight answer until you ask a straight question. So, straight up: are you asking about an organized event - advertised and taking place on school property that requires the school's complicity to operate - or are you talking about a bunch of students getting together on their own time to do something that doesn't require the school to take official notice of?

Now, to answer the specific questions:
  • "Here, you just have a group of students who are Christians and want to study the content of the Bible at lunchtime." Then they don't need the school to provide them with any facilities, now do they? They can just find a spot where they can all sit down, and chat. You don't need an empty classroom for that, you don't need a hall, you just need a place big enough to plant your asses down and talk.
  • "They are not promoting hatred, violence, or anything that the KKK would promote. All they're doing is getting a local youth pastor and then approaching a teacher and saying, "Hey, can we please use your classroom during lunch on Mondays so that we can have a quiet place to discuss the Bible?" No harm is being done." It is not a matter of promoting hatred specifically or about "doing harm", it is a matter of endorsing viewpoints or events that are not appropriate for a government academic institution.
  • "What would you do, as a campus supervisor (rule enforcer), if you saw a group of kids sitting at a lunch table, during lunch, reading the Bible and discussing it? Well you cannot do anything because they're not breaking any rules. There's no rule against reading a book at lunch and having a discussion with your friends. It's loud outside. So why not just let this group of well behaved students have a quiet place to discuss (the library isn't an option because you cannot talk in there)?" i don't understand why you can't see the difference between not interfering with students just doing their own thing without requiring official school sanction... and officially sanctioning an event. The students who want to sit around and talk God, they're not asking for the school to endorse their discussion. They're not using school resources, they're just sitting around. And if you want to argue that the "lunch table" is a school resource, i would point out that the students were granted permission to use it by the school... but for their lunch. If they choose to chat about God while they eat, that's not the school's concern.


Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Quote:
People can pray on school property during school. This strikes me as just a misguided publicity stunt.

Nothing about that event has any official stamp of approval. You don't need school consent to meet and gather, and you don't need it to stand by the flagpole. The event doesn't interfere with the operation of the school, and it isn't (or at least it better not be) coercive to students who are not interested. So nothing about this event violates the law.

These people just don't understand the law. If they want to gather and pray (by the flagpole or otherwise... why not indoors if the weather's bad?... ah, of course, the flagpole location is symbolic, linking God and country... "not political" my ass) then go ahead and do it, any time of the day you like. Just don't attempt to interfere with school functions, and don't harass other students.


Well if the weather was bad and the school decided to provide them with a classroom so that they can pray inside, it would be illegal according to you. Remember? My school already tried that and you thought it was wrong.

Whoa. O.O Who said the school should "provide them with a classroom"? Why do they need to be "provided with a classroom"? Let them gather wherever they are normally allowed to gather on their free time in school, and do their thing there.

i really don't understand what's difficult to understand about that. Seriously, you went to school, right? i only went for a year, but even i know that if you and a group of your friends want to congregate to do something for your own amusement - i used to jam on guitar with my friends - you don't need to go to the office and book a room to do it. Come on, really. And guitar is way more disruptive than prayer (unless you're screaming the prayers or dancing around) - it would be way easier to find a place to pray than it ever was to find a place to jam. We figured out how to find places to jam without official school consent, so ****** them, those prayer guys can too.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
And where are these students supposed to have their "Bible club" if they do not have a classroom to use? During high school, I went to chess club in a classroom and I went to math club in a classroom.

That's their problem.

Chess and math are both legitimate school activities, and thus the school can (and, whenever possible, should) provide them with official support, like classrooms. A "Bible club" would not be a legitimate school activity (unless it was really about Bible discussion, and not just Bible "discussion"... textual analysis? literary criticism? historical context?), and the school can't provide them with support. If they can't figure things out on their own (this is where the "organize" part of "student-organized" comes into play), then tough cookies. It's not the school's problem if the students who want the "Bible club" can't figure out how to make it work.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Again, you're being ridiculous. "There was this swingers club where all the students would have orgies in a classroom after school..." Take a stance on an issue, man! First off, public display of affection is against school rules to begin with. That's why the club wouldn't be allowed. Reading the Bible and having a discussion isn't against the rules! That's why that club was allowed to exist. Pretty much any club is allowed, as long as it is within guidelines.

And, what are the guidelines? Do they not include the stipulation that religious organizations are not allowed?

Look, you're being deliberately dense, and using the ambiguity of the word "discuss" to hide behind. You know that a Christian Bible "discussion" is not really a real "discussion". Yes, a serious discussion about the Bible would be allowed. But you know as well as i do that that's not what a Christian Bible "discussion" would be. It would be a religious circle jerk. It would be a prayer meeting, or mass. None of those things would be acceptable.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
You also keep mentioning that it's illegal. Prayer in schools was outlawed because it violates a constitutional right for the freedom of religion. That's what the problem is. Simply saying over the PA, "If you're interested in studying the Bible, then you're invited to room 123 at lunch time" does not affect anyone's freedom of religion. It's not coercive, mandatory, or even endorsed... It's announced by a student reading a script that was written by someone who wants to let all the students know what clubs are available for the school year. That's it!

Sorry, wrong. The PA is government property, and allowing the students to use it for religious purposes or to promote religion in anyway is against the law. It's already been decided in court. Google it.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I'm not a Republican, so was it wrong when the Young Republican Club was announced? No!

The Young Republic Club is not unconstitutional. It teaches students about politics and civics. It may do so from a particular perspective, but that's neither here nor there. It's fundamental purpose is educational, and it has educational value.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Quote:
If you want to have a "Bible Study" run by students and a pastor at a local church during lunch, do it at the local church. Because why the hell not? -_- He has a freaking church for that! Use it! School is for other purposes, not religion, so just freaking leave it be to do what it's mandated to do.


He did use his church. He just wanted to help out the students at the local schools who wanted a place to learn about the Bible at school during lunch time. This idea started when a group of students approached him and asked him to do it.

Dude, seriously. Don't be disingenuous. He was trying to run services in school. The fact that students requested it doesn't make it any less wrong.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Quote:
Teachers are as free to share their opinions as anyone else... just not when they're doing their job (as is true for anyone else).


So literature should never be taught? Many stories are subject to interpretation and generally any opinion is accepted as long as it is backed up with evidence from the story. I guess teachers should never grade papers either (unless they're multiple choice with a definite right and wrong answer). Essays can be subjective and an educated opinion and usually needed.

I have taught a little on a nonprofessional level and I occasionally give my opinion because it is helpful. Telling a class that Chapter 11 is, in my opinion, much more interesting than Chapter 10 is usually a good way to encourage students who didn't do too well in Chapter 10.

Er, first of all, i don't think you understand literature education. Like... at all. ^_^; The purpose of teaching and discussing literature in school is not to teach opinions, it is to teach critical thought and textual analysis (while at the same time, teaching English, and culture... it's not "win-win", it's "win-win-win-win-win"). Literature teachers don't stand there and tell students their opinions of the text, they tell students what the commonly held opinions in academia and society are. They ask students to try and form their own opinions, and justify them textually, to teach the students how to think critically (and to encourage reading comprehension). They don't mark them on how well they agree on their opinion - it's not subjective in the least - they mark them on how well they back up their arguments using the text. Certainly some professional discretion is required when doing this, but calling it subjective would get you smacked by a serious literature teacher.

And your second example is just silly. The opinion you're giving is part of your job: you're recommending to the student what you think is the best way to learn the material. It's hardly the same as discussing your opinion on... whatever the hell pops into your head. In fact, in your specific example, i would point out that you're not really offering an "opinion" at all - you didn't even say whether or not you actually think Chapter 11 is more interesting - you're using social engineering to increase your students chances of successfully learning the material. It's more like reverse psychology than proselytizing.

Look, obviously some common sense is required here. Teachers are expected to use their professional judgement to know what "opinions" are permissible and which aren't. i tell my students that i think that they should use design-by-contract principles when programming, but no one in their right mind could argue that i'm doing anything beyond the boundaries of my job when i share that opinion. My job is to turn people into good C++ programmers, and suggesting ways that i believe you can be a good C++ programmer to students is well within that realm. Suggesting which way to vote in an upcoming election, or why Christianity makes more/less sense, or even to drive a hybrid... none of those things are justifiable within that context.

If you can find a context where it's acceptable to discuss religious ideas in a class, then share it. (FYI, the law is actually that discussing religion - possibly even praying! - is acceptable in school... provided that it a) has a secular purpose, b) does not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion, or c) does not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion. See Lemon v Kurtzman. Of course, there's no serious way you can convince a reasonable person that praying or having services in an empty classroom satisfies those requirements. Therefore, bottom line, those classroom services that pastor was running were illegal.)
deanhills
Indi wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
You also keep mentioning that it's illegal. Prayer in schools was outlawed because it violates a constitutional right for the freedom of religion. That's what the problem is. Simply saying over the PA, "If you're interested in studying the Bible, then you're invited to room 123 at lunch time" does not affect anyone's freedom of religion. It's not coercive, mandatory, or even endorsed... It's announced by a student reading a script that was written by someone who wants to let all the students know what clubs are available for the school year. That's it!

Sorry, wrong. The PA is government property, and allowing the students to use it for religious purposes or to promote religion in anyway is against the law. It's already been decided in court. Google it.
So let's say that we are in a community where people on average are quite religious. Someone is seriously ill with cancer. Everyone at school is troubled by this. They decide to arrange a prayer meeting in the main hall to pray for the person who is ill. As an overwhelming number would like to participate and this is the only venue that would work out well. Do you think that is illegal?
liljp617
deanhills wrote:
Indi wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
You also keep mentioning that it's illegal. Prayer in schools was outlawed because it violates a constitutional right for the freedom of religion. That's what the problem is. Simply saying over the PA, "If you're interested in studying the Bible, then you're invited to room 123 at lunch time" does not affect anyone's freedom of religion. It's not coercive, mandatory, or even endorsed... It's announced by a student reading a script that was written by someone who wants to let all the students know what clubs are available for the school year. That's it!

Sorry, wrong. The PA is government property, and allowing the students to use it for religious purposes or to promote religion in anyway is against the law. It's already been decided in court. Google it.
So let's say that we are in a community where people on average are quite religious. Someone is seriously ill with cancer. Everyone at school is troubled by this. They decide to arrange a prayer meeting in the main hall to pray for the person who is ill. As an overwhelming number would like to participate and this is the only venue that would work out well. Do you think that is illegal?


I wouldn't raise a fuss over it, there are more important things related to this to oppose. But it still seems to be illegal, by what has been laid out by the courts.
Indi
deanhills wrote:
Indi wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
You also keep mentioning that it's illegal. Prayer in schools was outlawed because it violates a constitutional right for the freedom of religion. That's what the problem is. Simply saying over the PA, "If you're interested in studying the Bible, then you're invited to room 123 at lunch time" does not affect anyone's freedom of religion. It's not coercive, mandatory, or even endorsed... It's announced by a student reading a script that was written by someone who wants to let all the students know what clubs are available for the school year. That's it!

Sorry, wrong. The PA is government property, and allowing the students to use it for religious purposes or to promote religion in anyway is against the law. It's already been decided in court. Google it.
So let's say that we are in a community where people on average are quite religious. Someone is seriously ill with cancer. Everyone at school is troubled by this. They decide to arrange a prayer meeting in the main hall to pray for the person who is ill. As an overwhelming number would like to participate and this is the only venue that would work out well. Do you think that is illegal?

Yes.

You can add as many cancer patients as you like, and even throw in a few premature babies on life support and sick puppies. It's still illegal, same way as robbing a bank is illegal whether you're using the cash to buy crack or pay for your sick grandma's medicine. And it doesn't matter if an "overwhelming number" or even the whole town is all for you robbing the bank... still illegal.

However, running a fund raiser (bake sale, stage show, auction, whatever) to raise cash to pay for the cancer patient's treatments is not illegal. It's also doing more good for the person than praying. So you won't find me too concerned that organizing prayer meetings is not allowed.

Besides, why can't all the people who were going to be at the prayer meeting just pray at home? What use is the "meeting" part, functionally speaking? Do the gods only respond to gang-bang prayers?
Afaceinthematrix
Indi wrote:
Actually, it wasn't a seminar or a club, and it was a business - it was simply dealing in faith, not money, which is not currency acceptable for trading on school property. See, if it were a seminar or a club, it would be discussing religion, not trying to sell it. But i don't think that you seriously believe there was any real discussion taking place. "Discussion" includes dissent. What do you think would have happened if someone had stood up in one of these little prayer meetings and said: "i think this is all bunk. i think the whole thing is complete fantasy. i think the Bible was written by semi-literate sheep herders, and is less divine than a copy of Hustler. i think churches are pyramid schemes suckering the most vulnerable portion of society." That's an opinion. A real discussion should consider that opinion. A real discussion should consider any alternative opinion so long as it is not presented in a disruptive way. i don't think you seriously believe that's how those "discussions" were being run, right?

Think of it this way: any school-sanctioned event should be open to any student, provided they don't disrupt the event. Do you think that if a gang of non-Christians - made up of atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, whatever - showed up and started questioning the claims being made by the pastor, that the event wouldn't degrade into a disaster? Do you really believe that the event was designed with the intention of being for all students, and not simply believers and suckers that might be convinced?


Ummmm... I think you're quite wrong. Yes I do think that a gang of non-Christians (if you can consider me and one other friend to be a "gang") did show up and we were quite welcome (provided that we weren't complete asses in the way that we presented ourselves). The pastor and other students never asked us to leave. Instead, they would try to "witness" to us and tell us about what God has done for them.

In fact, last year, I ran into someone that I knew in high school. He was a Freshman during the year that I was a Senior. He brought a copy of The God Delusion to the Bible Study and he read parts of it out loud to other people and still wasn't asked to leave.

Quote:
i don't know what the JSA is, but political clubs are certainly allowed if they teach the students about politics and civics. Obviously events that are solely for the purpose of advocating a particular political position are not acceptable - you can't have a Democratic political rally at school. But clubs that teach politics in general, or civics, are definitely part of the curriculum.

The KKK is not a "political workshop", not by any reasonable definition - maybe by their own definition the KKK is a political group, but by any reasonable person's definition they are a hate group: a white supremacist organization.


As I said, there specific clubs for specific political agendas that are allowed to exist so that whole point doesn't really fly.

Also, I do not really know why you brought up the KKK in the first place. You were being quite outrages and ridiculous.

Quote:
No, sorry, your understanding is flawed. i don't know about the Young Republican Club in particular, but i know the type: it's a club where students get to ape their favourite politicians (in this case, Republicans) in order to learn about the political process and current political issues. That's within the bounds of education. Their group may have a particular slant on the issues, but so what? They're still teaching about the political system and civics.

See, bias is not the problem. The problem is whether or not the club provides anything of educational value. Even if the Young Republican Club discusses politics from a biased perspective... the bottom line there is that they discuss politics. i'd bet they teach the kids how to contact their local state and federal government representatives, and even how one might go about putting together a survey or possibly even running for office eventually (they may even intern with politicians). That's all educational, because learning how the country is run is part of learning how to function in it. That Young Republican Club: are they not teaching the kids how to be politicians? Isn't "politician" a legitimate professional career in society? That's educational.

The KKK teach nothing of any value from an educational perspective, and neither does any religion. How are either of those organizations going to teach you anything to help you function as a better member of society?


No. Your understanding is flawed. Since when has a club have to be educational? Some students at my old high school tried starting a martial arts club and it got approved.... Without a proper martial arts instructor. Let's see... Hmmm... My school also had an anime club... And, of course, tennis. That was fun but I sure didn't learn much from hitting tennis balls after school.


Quote:
Now, to answer the specific questions:
  • "Here, you just have a group of students who are Christians and want to study the content of the Bible at lunchtime." Then they don't need the school to provide them with any facilities, now do they? They can just find a spot where they can all sit down, and chat. You don't need an empty classroom for that, you don't need a hall, you just need a place big enough to plant your asses down and talk.


Well... It's a little hard to have a decent conversation when the only area that you were allowed to be at lunch was a rather small area outside where fights and/or riots frequently happened.

Quote:
  • "They are not promoting hatred, violence, or anything that the KKK would promote. All they're doing is getting a local youth pastor and then approaching a teacher and saying, "Hey, can we please use your classroom during lunch on Mondays so that we can have a quiet place to discuss the Bible?" No harm is being done." It is not a matter of promoting hatred specifically or about "doing harm", it is a matter of endorsing viewpoints or events that are not appropriate for a government academic institution.


  • They're not endorsing a viewpoint! They're just giving a group of students who asked nicely a classroom to talk in at lunch. They may be helping them have their discussion but they're not endorsing it.

    Quote:
  • "What would you do, as a campus supervisor (rule enforcer), if you saw a group of kids sitting at a lunch table, during lunch, reading the Bible and discussing it? Well you cannot do anything because they're not breaking any rules. There's no rule against reading a book at lunch and having a discussion with your friends. It's loud outside. So why not just let this group of well behaved students have a quiet place to discuss (the library isn't an option because you cannot talk in there)?" i don't understand why you can't see the difference between not interfering with students just doing their own thing without requiring official school sanction... and officially sanctioning an event. The students who want to sit around and talk God, they're not asking for the school to endorse their discussion. They're not using school resources, they're just sitting around. And if you want to argue that the "lunch table" is a school resource, i would point out that the students were granted permission to use it by the school... but for their lunch. If they choose to chat about God while they eat, that's not the school's concern.


  • Well actually, the whole argument falls apart right there. You said that the students were allowed to be there and that it's not the school's concern if they happen to be talking about God. Well, students are also allowed in a teacher's classroom during lunch if they have permission by the teacher and the teacher is in the room. 99% of the time that a student was in a teacher's classroom at lunch it was because the student was struggling in the subject and the teacher was generous to donate their lunchtime to give them extra tutoring. Every time I went to a Bible Study, the teacher was in the classroom (the pastor actually asked teachers he knew for permission and then asked the school for permission to come there and he was allowed to come at lunches provided that he filled out all of the paperwork and got the visitor's pass). So technically, the students were allowed in there and the fact that they were talking about God isn't a concern of the school's...


    Indi wrote:
    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    Quote:
    People can pray on school property during school. This strikes me as just a misguided publicity stunt.

    Nothing about that event has any official stamp of approval. You don't need school consent to meet and gather, and you don't need it to stand by the flagpole. The event doesn't interfere with the operation of the school, and it isn't (or at least it better not be) coercive to students who are not interested. So nothing about this event violates the law.

    These people just don't understand the law. If they want to gather and pray (by the flagpole or otherwise... why not indoors if the weather's bad?... ah, of course, the flagpole location is symbolic, linking God and country... "not political" my ass) then go ahead and do it, any time of the day you like. Just don't attempt to interfere with school functions, and don't harass other students.


    Well if the weather was bad and the school decided to provide them with a classroom so that they can pray inside, it would be illegal according to you. Remember? My school already tried that and you thought it was wrong.

    Whoa. O.O Who said the school should "provide them with a classroom"? Why do they need to be "provided with a classroom"? Let them gather wherever they are normally allowed to gather on their free time in school, and do their thing there.


    Quote:

    That's their problem.

    Chess and math are both legitimate school activities, and thus the school can (and, whenever possible, should) provide them with official support, like classrooms. A "Bible club" would not be a legitimate school activity (unless it was really about Bible discussion, and not just Bible "discussion"... textual analysis? literary criticism? historical context?), and the school can't provide them with support. If they can't figure things out on their own (this is where the "organize" part of "student-organized" comes into play), then tough cookies. It's not the school's problem if the students who want the "Bible club" can't figure out how to make it work.


    But the students did figure out how to make it work... I've been talking about that...

    Quote:
    And, what are the guidelines? Do they not include the stipulation that religious organizations are not allowed?


    No. Actually they do not. I read the handbook. There's plenty of rules about fighting, public display of affection, weapons, etc.[/quote]

    Quote:
    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    You also keep mentioning that it's illegal. Prayer in schools was outlawed because it violates a constitutional right for the freedom of religion. That's what the problem is. Simply saying over the PA, "If you're interested in studying the Bible, then you're invited to room 123 at lunch time" does not affect anyone's freedom of religion. It's not coercive, mandatory, or even endorsed... It's announced by a student reading a script that was written by someone who wants to let all the students know what clubs are available for the school year. That's it!

    Sorry, wrong. The PA is government property, and allowing the students to use it for religious purposes or to promote religion in anyway is against the law. It's already been decided in court. Google it.

    I did. I actually didn't find much on it. I found a source where a Bible Study Clubs that excluded non-Christians from either joining or holding offices was banned. That implies that Bible Study Clubs are allowed provided that they do not exclude non-Christians.

    Quote:
    The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case between Kentridge High School Kentridge High School, located on 43 acres in Kent, Washington, is the second-oldest and second-largest high school in the Kent School District. It serves mainly students in the northeastern region of the district.

    The school in 2003 denied a charter for the group, called Truth, saying its membership requirements discriminated against students who refused to sign a statement accepting Jesus as their personal savior. Truth founders argued that the school denied their First Amendment rights and violated the Equal Access Act by preventing them from forming a group according to according to
    prep.


    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/High+court+won%27t+hear+school+Bible-club+case.-a0202675001

    Quote:

    The Young Republic Club is not unconstitutional. It teaches students about politics and civics. It may do so from a particular perspective, but that's neither here nor there. It's fundamental purpose is educational, and it has educational value.


    Although they often spend quite a lot of time promoting a certain political party...

    Quote:
    Dude, seriously. Don't be disingenuous. He was trying to run services in school. The fact that students requested it doesn't make it any less wrong.


    I went plenty of times. He never even did much to promote his church. He would tell students that they were free to come to his church if they wish but that there were plenty of churches in city to choose from.

    Quote:

    Er, first of all, i don't think you understand literature education. Like... at all. ^_^; The purpose of teaching and discussing literature in school is not to teach opinions, it is to teach critical thought and textual analysis (while at the same time, teaching English, and culture... it's not "win-win", it's "win-win-win-win-win").


    Yeah... And as you learn critical thinking, you generally have to form some kind of opinion...

    Quote:
    Literature teachers don't stand there and tell students their opinions of the text, they tell students what the commonly held opinions in academia and society are.


    Yes... But everyone tends to have their own slightly different opinion on different aspects of a passage

    Quote:
    They ask students to try and form their own opinions, and justify them textually, to teach the students how to think critically (and to encourage reading comprehension). They don't mark them on how well they agree on their opinion - it's not subjective in the least - they mark them on how well they back up their arguments using the text.


    I know. I mentioned that. I said that any opinion is accepted as long as it's backed up by textual evidence.

    Quote:
    And your second example is just silly. The opinion you're giving is part of your job: you're recommending to the student what you think is the best way to learn the material. It's hardly the same as discussing your opinion on... whatever the hell pops into your head. In fact, in your specific example, i would point out that you're not really offering an "opinion" at all - you didn't even say whether or not you actually think Chapter 11 is more interesting - you're using social engineering to increase your students chances of successfully learning the material. It's more like reverse psychology than proselytizing.


    Which was my opinion from the beginning. My whole point was that very occasionally, an opinion is called for. I never said that you should give your opinion on whatever pops into your head. Your opinions on religion, politics, favorite ice cream, favorite Slayer song, etc. are not called for.

    Quote:
    Look, obviously some common sense is required here. Teachers are expected to use their professional judgement to know what "opinions" are permissible and which aren't. i tell my students that i think that they should use design-by-contract principles when programming, but no one in their right mind could argue that i'm doing anything beyond the boundaries of my job when i share that opinion. My job is to turn people into good C++ programmers, and suggesting ways that i believe you can be a good C++ programmer to students is well within that realm. Suggesting which way to vote in an upcoming election, or why Christianity makes more/less sense, or even to drive a hybrid... none of those things are justifiable within that context.

    If you can find a context where it's acceptable to discuss religious ideas in a class, then share it. (FYI, the law is actually that discussing religion - possibly even praying! - is acceptable in school... provided that it a) has a secular purpose, b) does not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion, or c) does not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion. See Lemon v Kurtzman. Of course, there's no serious way you can convince a reasonable person that praying or having services in an empty classroom satisfies those requirements. Therefore, bottom line, those classroom services that pastor was running were illegal.)


    That's not really what I was talking about. I shouldn't have really brought up opinion at all. I was just seeing people being dogmatic about opinions not being acceptable and I thought I'd mention that sometimes it is (although in the correct context).
    ocalhoun
    Indi wrote:

    Besides, why can't all the people who were going to be at the prayer meeting just pray at home? What use is the "meeting" part, functionally speaking? Do the gods only respond to gang-bang prayers?


    bible wrote:

    Matthew 18:20 (New International Version)

    20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
    liljp617
    That says God is there? Well, God is labeled as omnipresent, of course he's there. I don't think that answers the question, based on the context it was given in.
    yagnyavalkya
    It is wrong to jail a person for praying
    I think it is goiing too far
    ocalhoun
    yagnyavalkya wrote:
    It is wrong to jail a person for praying
    I think it is goiing too far

    True. A more appropriate penalty for these two educators would be getting fired, and not allowed to work for the government again.
    Indi
    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    The pastor and other students never asked us to leave. Instead, they would try to "witness" to us and tell us about what God has done for them.

    OK now, let me make sure that i understand this 100% clearly, because you have been equivocating about what kind of Bible "study" was going on in these little meetings, trying to suggest that they were just innocent discussions.

    i want you to state, very clearly, that you what you said above is an accurate description of what went on in those Bible "study" sessions. Say it clearly: when you questioned Christianity, did the pastor attempt to convert you to Christianity? Yes. Or no.

    You see, this is very dangerous territory straddling the line between freedom of speech and the establishment of religion, so you have to stop being vague. You have "witness" in quotes as if it means nothing, but it is the most important word in that entire paragraph. Even worse, it has multiple meanings: in the religious sense it means to try and convince someone to convert through discussion with them, and in the secular sense it means to provide evidential testimony (among other definitions). In this context, i would normally guess that the meaning is the religious sense (because how can you provide evidential testimony of a faith-based belief)... but you've been shorting out every time i pointed out that this was ultimately just a church session in a classroom (and hence, unequivocally illegal), and trying to pretend that it was an innocent discussion about the Bible's contents.

    So there it is: yes or no, did that pastor attempt to convince you to adopt his religious beliefs when you questioned them?

    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    No. Your understanding is flawed. Since when has a club have to be educational? Some students at my old high school tried starting a martial arts club and it got approved.... Without a proper martial arts instructor. Let's see... Hmmm... My school also had an anime club... And, of course, tennis. That was fun but I sure didn't learn much from hitting tennis balls after school.

    Er... all of those clubs are educational. The fact that martial arts club was self-taught doesn't make it invalid - student-taught clubs are great for teaching both the topic of the club as well as the organizational skills necessary to run the club. The anime club is a cultural club, same as a Jane Austen club or a Vivaldi club would be... being an anime fan not only taught me Japanese culture, it taught me the Japanese language, ね? And the fact that you personally didn't learn anything from your tennis club doesn't invalidate its value anymore than a person walking out of a calculus class having learnt nothing would invalidate calculus as a worthwhile class.

    The point of school is to provide the basis to function in society, and its core curriculum handles the fundamentals of that. The extracurricular stuff is supposed to provide you with extra knowledge and skills that would be beneficial to a member of society, building on the fundamentals. Every single of one of those clubs satisfies that prerequisite: the martial arts club teaches self-defence, physical and mental discipline, and exercises and techniques that you can use to maintain your physique in later years (and, if it is student-taught, it will, as a bonus, teach the student teachers how to be teachers and organizers); the anime club teaches about Asian cultures (and in my experience, you learn a lot about the process of making animation, distributing intellectual property internationally (Region 1 v. Region 2, for example), and copyright concerns (discussing the legality of "fansubbing", for example)); and the tennis club teaches better hand-eye coordination, and various other physical knowledge (the fact that you got nothing out of it personally doesn't make it worthless... one of the guys in my tennis club went on to compete in the Davis Cup).

    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    Well... It's a little hard to have a decent conversation when the only area that you were allowed to be at lunch was a rather small area outside where fights and/or riots frequently happened.

    Oh, cry me a river. If they can find a place to talk about who's sleeping with who, or who's going to what party, then they can find a place to discuss the Bible. The school has no obligation to organize a discussion area for any group of students who want to talk about any random topic.


    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    Quote:
    [*]"They are not promoting hatred, violence, or anything that the KKK would promote. All they're doing is getting a local youth pastor and then approaching a teacher and saying, "Hey, can we please use your classroom during lunch on Mondays so that we can have a quiet place to discuss the Bible?" No harm is being done." It is not a matter of promoting hatred specifically or about "doing harm", it is a matter of endorsing viewpoints or events that are not appropriate for a government academic institution.


    They're not endorsing a viewpoint! They're just giving a group of students who asked nicely a classroom to talk in at lunch. They may be helping them have their discussion but they're not endorsing it.

    See my highlighting of my own quote. "They may be helping them have their discussion but they're not endorsing it." You might want to look up what "endorse" means.

    i explained in great detail elsewhere that "helping them have their discussion" is endorsing it. Isn't "helping someone rob a bank" a crime, along with the actual robbery? Giving someone all the tools they need to break a law - whether those tools as safe cracking tools or just a room - while being aware of they fact that they intend to do something illegal makes you an accessory to the crime. Giving a room to a bunch of people planning a KKK rally (which, by the way, is why i brought it up... but you seem to have completely missed the point) means you are endorsing KKK rallies, even if you don't endorse the KKK's viewpoint.

    Besides, get realistic. -_- If it were really true that there was no endorsement implied by giving a room for the purpose of a prayer meeting, then all a school would have to do to get around the prayer ban is this: none of the teachers actually lead the prayer, they just "let a student" invite the cleric in, provide the hall, the podium, the PA system, and even the school band's instruments for hymns, then advertise that there is church in the main hall over the school's address system... and they have a running church right on school property, during school hours. Why even bother to ban prayer if you can still literally have a running church in the school?

    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    Quote:
    [*]"What would you do, as a campus supervisor (rule enforcer), if you saw a group of kids sitting at a lunch table, during lunch, reading the Bible and discussing it? Well you cannot do anything because they're not breaking any rules. There's no rule against reading a book at lunch and having a discussion with your friends. It's loud outside. So why not just let this group of well behaved students have a quiet place to discuss (the library isn't an option because you cannot talk in there)?" i don't understand why you can't see the difference between not interfering with students just doing their own thing without requiring official school sanction... and officially sanctioning an event. The students who want to sit around and talk God, they're not asking for the school to endorse their discussion. They're not using school resources, they're just sitting around. And if you want to argue that the "lunch table" is a school resource, i would point out that the students were granted permission to use it by the school... but for their lunch. If they choose to chat about God while they eat, that's not the school's concern.


    Well actually, the whole argument falls apart right there. You said that the students were allowed to be there and that it's not the school's concern if they happen to be talking about God. Well, students are also allowed in a teacher's classroom during lunch if they have permission by the teacher and the teacher is in the room. 99% of the time that a student was in a teacher's classroom at lunch it was because the student was struggling in the subject and the teacher was generous to donate their lunchtime to give them extra tutoring. Every time I went to a Bible Study, the teacher was in the classroom (the pastor actually asked teachers he knew for permission and then asked the school for permission to come there and he was allowed to come at lunches provided that he filled out all of the paperwork and got the visitor's pass). So technically, the students were allowed in there and the fact that they were talking about God isn't a concern of the school's...

    Actually, no, the argument doesn't "fall apart" there. ^_^; And you might see that if you bothered to think about it. Because right after i said that students were allowed in the lunch room for a secular reason (and not just secular, but school-related!), you then turn around and say that students being allowed to use a classroom for a religious reason is the same thing... as if that weren't the entire damn point of the thing.

    If the teacher allows the classroom to be used by students for school-related uses - even if it's just as a break room between classes - then the teacher is not endorsing anything but the school-related use of that classroom. If the students then turn around and talk God, it's no skin off the teacher's nose. But that's an entirely different thing to allowing the room to be used for a religious meeting... and you explicitly say that it was! The fact that they were talking about God was a concern of the schools... because they approved the damn paperwork allowing it!!!

    Good grief, man, where is your head? -_- Can you really not see the difference between:
    "i let them sign out the town hall to have a community barbeque. i didn't approve the KKK meeting they held there, and i can't be held responsible."
    vs.
    "i let them sign out the town hall to have a KKK meeting. But i can't be held responsible for the fact that they held a KKK meeting."

    Because it's exactly the same situation as:
    "i let them use the classroom to eat their lunch in and socialize. i didn't approve the prayer meeting they held there, and i can't be held responsible."
    vs.
    "i let them use the classroom to hold a prayer meeting. But i can't be held responsible for the fact that they held a prayer meeting."

    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    But the students did figure out how to make it work... I've been talking about that...

    No, they didn't. They got the school to make it work for them by providing them with the venue. And that's the problem.

    Afaceinthematrix wrote:
    Quote:
    Sorry, wrong. The PA is government property, and allowing the students to use it for religious purposes or to promote religion in anyway is against the law. It's already been decided in court. Google it.

    I did. I actually didn't find much on it. I found a source where a Bible Study Clubs that excluded non-Christians from either joining or holding offices was banned. That implies that Bible Study Clubs are allowed provided that they do not exclude non-Christians.

    Ah, no. ^_^; You're reading a bit too much into the judgement. ^_^; The question was "Can a school refuse to allow clubs that discriminate based on religion?" The answer is yes (although the Supreme Court apparently thought it was such a stupid question it wasn't worth their time). That means that if you wanted to start a chess club for Muslims only... not allowed. It doesn't imply you can start a Muslim organization. (Does refusing to allow clubs that discriminate based on race imply that it's ok to create a "white power" club? Obviously not.) That's an entirely different question. So far as i know, no one's challenged the legality of religious organizations at school, provided the school provides no official support for them.

    By the way, the Supreme Court case regarding the use of the PA system for religious purposes was Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. In that case, the school was allowing the students to elect a representative to give speeches before football games and graduation ceremonies and stuff... that usually involved prayers. The court's opinion noted that: "{t}he delivery of a message such as the invocation here – on school property, at school-sponsored events, over the school’s public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, under the supervision of school faculty, and pursuant to a school policy that explicitly and implicitly encourages public prayer – is not properly characterized as “private” speech." Or, in other words, it is no longer a question of the student's private right to speech... by using the school system on school time at school-sponsored events under school supervision they are now acting "publicly". (In legal parlance, "public" means "governmental", as in "holding public office" or "res publica"... it doesn't mean "in public" as in common speech, it means more like "public property (property of the government) vs. private property".)

    ocalhoun wrote:
    Indi wrote:

    Besides, why can't all the people who were going to be at the prayer meeting just pray at home? What use is the "meeting" part, functionally speaking? Do the gods only respond to gang-bang prayers?


    bible wrote:

    Matthew 18:20 (New International Version)

    20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
    liljp617 wrote:
    That says God is there? Well, God is labeled as omnipresent, of course he's there. I don't think that answers the question, based on the context it was given in.

    No, it really doesn't. ^_^; When not taken out of context, that passage is talking about getting along - as in, agreeing, not disputing. The "coming together" doesn't mean literally "meeting", it means cooperating. (All of Matthew 18 is about resolving disputes and forgiveness.)

    So, no, it doesn't really answer why it's necessary to pray at "meetings", rather than at home.

    ocalhoun wrote:
    yagnyavalkya wrote:
    It is wrong to jail a person for praying
    I think it is goiing too far

    True. A more appropriate penalty for these two educators would be getting fired, and not allowed to work for the government again.

    For the record, you should read the article more carefully. That (getting fired) was the penalty they were originally going to get for violating the Constitution (that is, praying in school, among other things). In order to keep their jobs, they came to an agreement with the ACLU (the ACLU never wanted anyone to lose their jobs, they just wanted to stop the encroachment of religion in school), and signed a court order saying they would not do any more religious stuff at school, including - shock! - organizing prayers at school events. Then they organized a prayer at a school event, violating the court order.

    They are not going to jail for praying. They are going to jail (if that's the punishment they get) for contempt of court.

    They were given a free pass by the ACLU. They blew it (and violated a court order in the process). They are morons. Don't weep for them. At the very least now they should be fired, and some non-idiots hired to replace them.
    Afaceinthematrix
    Well I do not feel like going into detail again because this conversation is getting boring. However, I did do more research and found:

    - Faculty led prayer and/or bible reading is not allowed. This wasn't faculty lead.
    - One school near where I live banned a Bible Study Club because it was not related to the curriculum. In that case, martial arts, chess, anime, and tennis would not be allowed. You can argue that those are educational, but they are not related to the curriculum. This one is currently in court.

    Now that second point poses a question: why would the school have to use the excuse that "it's not related to the curriculum" if they could just say "the supreme court said no?"


    Maybe it would help if I just posted some actual supreme court rulings...


    Quote:
    Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962)

    Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.


    The prayer is not composed by public school districts so this one would not apply...

    Quote:
    Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

    Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional and Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) - Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.


    The Bible wasn't read over the intercom...

    Quote:
    Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)

    Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies.


    The school district wasn't providing any clergy... They were just allowing someone to come...


    The only court case that would be close to banning a Bible Study Club would be:

    Quote:
    McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)

    Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional.


    However, this still doesn't ban it because when you look at the court case, the supreme court was banning actual classes that a school was offering. These aren't classes; it's just a club at lunch time...

    So none of those ban a Bible Study club... There have been more cases about religion in school but I didn't post them because they had nothing to do with this... But you can read them all here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/church-state/decisions.html
    Indi
    A related story has just recently hit the pipes. A marching band in a Missouri high school made T-shirts with the theme "Brass Evolutions". The T-shirts use the famous "march of progress" image to illustrate the evolution theme:



    Unsurprisingly, this being Missouri, someone objected to the "evolution" theme on "religious grounds". What was surprising was that the school caved.

    i'm going to withhold my personal comments for the moment. Before you comment on it, though, consider what the school district's position was, in their own words:
    Quote:
    Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.

    “If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing,” he said.

    What do you think?
    • First, is the school district really required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned?
    • Is there anything about this shirt design that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?
    • Ignoring the specific shirt design for the moment, is there anything else about the whole affair that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?
    • If the T-shirts had said 'Brass Resurrections', and did have a picture of the crucifixion... would recalling the shirts have been the right course of action to take then?
    deanhills
    I thought it was really a "cool" t-shirt, and I'm sure the students would have liked it too. I can just imagine that the t-shirts must have become "collectors" items. I find it quite small-minded to have made an issue out of it, and if I were the school district I would just have ignored the complaint. But then of course I'm not the school board. Smile


    Indi wrote:
    • First, is the school district really required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned?

    If it had been a really serious provoking issue such as "down with religion" or "christians suck", maybe yes. But the one in the example is quite rediculous.
    Indi wrote:
  • Is there anything about this shirt design that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?

  • I don't see anything. But possibly a zealot would have seen something along the lines of anti-religion in it with the "evolution" type figures.
    Indi wrote:
  • Ignoring the specific shirt design for the moment, is there anything else about the whole affair that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?

  • Nature of the complaint perhaps? Not sure where you are going with this question.
    Indi wrote:
  • If the T-shirts had said 'Brass Resurrections', and did have a picture of the crucifixion... would recalling the shirts have been the right course of action to take then?

  • Yes. As it obviously would have been offensive and provocative to a large number of people. There is no "little respect" in it. But only then.
    liljp617
    Indi wrote:
    • First, is the school district really required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned?


    They're required to keep the environment secular. I don't know if that's what you mean by neutral.

    Quote:
  • Is there anything about this shirt design that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?


  • One, the meaning of the shirt was not even really implying the Theory of Evolution. As they said, it was a creative way of implying the evolution of brass instruments over time.

    Two, evolution is science, it really only has relation to religion where people want it to. The Theory of Evolution is, in and of itself, neutral. It has nothing to say on the topic of any specific religious belief; no where in the description of or evidence backing evolution does it make a comment on religion. It describes the natural methods, through scientific observation and rationale, by which the biological world has obtained its diversity and structure. If people want to combat it because it interferes with their faith-based belief, that's their problem and they can deal with their inhibitions on their own time.

    So...the entire t-shirt was secular, as it should be.

    Quote:
  • Ignoring the specific shirt design for the moment, is there anything else about the whole affair that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?


  • Everything.

    Quote:
  • If the T-shirts had said 'Brass Resurrections', and did have a picture of the crucifixion... would recalling the shirts have been the right course of action to take then?


  • Yes. The school system is a branch of the US government, it should remain secular. Evolution is secular, Christianity (whatever religion is being represented by the crucifixion) is not.
    ocalhoun
    liljp617 wrote:

    Yes. The school system is a branch of the US government, it should remain secular. Evolution is secular, Christianity (whatever religion is being represented by the crucifixion) is not.

    Actually, neutral might be the better word...
    Remaining secular seems to be on the borderline of promoting atheism.
    liljp617
    ocalhoun wrote:
    liljp617 wrote:

    Yes. The school system is a branch of the US government, it should remain secular. Evolution is secular, Christianity (whatever religion is being represented by the crucifixion) is not.

    Actually, neutral might be the better word...
    Remaining secular seems to be on the borderline of promoting atheism.


    My view of "secularism" is "the idea that governmental institutions should exist separately from religious beliefs" -- precisely how I think the school system should be. And I think they should enforce this ideal.

    Neutral, in the context of this discussion, would, to me, mean that if an issue surrounding religious beliefs arose in the school system, the school system should take no public, official stance on the issue and really shouldn't even discuss how to handle it. They would remain on the outside of the issue and let it figure itself out. I don't believe the school system should do this.

    If the school system promotes secularism, they're not promoting atheism.

    Promoting atheism would be promoting the lack of belief in god(s) or, perhaps, promoting some general anti-religious message, which they're not.

    Promoting secularism is promoting that you deal with your god(s) on your own time and you don't use a government institution to push those private beliefs forward.

    What do you mean when you use the words "secular" and "neutral?" Hard to discuss this if we're using words with different perceptions of their meanings (or perhaps not worth the time if we're going to argue semantics).
    ocalhoun
    liljp617 wrote:


    Neutral, in the context of this discussion, would, to me, mean that if an issue surrounding religious beliefs arose in the school system, the school system should take no public, official stance on the issue and really shouldn't even discuss how to handle it. They would remain on the outside of the issue and let it figure itself out. I don't believe the school system should do this.

    I do believe the school system should do that.
    Indi
    liljp617 wrote:
    They're required to keep the environment secular. I don't know if that's what you mean by neutral.

    i should have guessed that you'd be the one to spot that distinction. ^_^ Right on!
    liljp617
    ocalhoun wrote:
    liljp617 wrote:


    Neutral, in the context of this discussion, would, to me, mean that if an issue surrounding religious beliefs arose in the school system, the school system should take no public, official stance on the issue and really shouldn't even discuss how to handle it. They would remain on the outside of the issue and let it figure itself out. I don't believe the school system should do this.

    I do believe the school system should do that.


    Hypothetically speaking, if an issue is being dealt with by opposing sides (one side opposes religion in schools, the other doesn't) and the side that desires religion to have its place in schools "wins," does the school system still remain on the outside of the issue? Is that not a clear violation of the way our government was purposely set up?
    liljp617
    liljp617 wrote:
    ocalhoun wrote:

    Neutral, in the context of this discussion, would, to me, mean that if an issue surrounding religious beliefs arose in the school system, the school system should take no public, official stance on the issue and really shouldn't even discuss how to handle it. They would remain on the outside of the issue and let it figure itself out. I don't believe the school system should do this.

    I do believe the school system should do that.


    Hypothetically speaking, if an issue is being dealt with by opposing sides (one side opposes religion in schools, the other doesn't) and the side that desires religion to have its place in schools "wins," does the school system -- by school system I mean the people at the top making the decisions -- still remain on the outside of the issue? Is that not a clear violation of the way our government was purposely set up?
    Afaceinthematrix
    Indi wrote:
    What was surprising was that the school caved.


    Was it really that surprising? I actually would have been more surprised if the school didn't cave. Schools generally tend to bend to the wishes of screaming parents and/or the general public. I've even heard of schools doing things completely and utterly out of their jurisdiction (and completely unconstitutional) because of the screaming public. I read one story where I student was suspended for wearing a shirt with a confederacy flag (although I think this is under the jurisdiction of the school because they do have a right to enforce a dress code - although it would probably be more appropriate to just have the student change the shirt and then suspend him if he/she resists (although maybe they did ask him to change the shirt and saw resistance - I do not know)). So the school caving doesn't surprise me (although it still does bother me).


    Quote:
    • First, is the school district really required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned?
    • Is there anything about this shirt design that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?
    • Ignoring the specific shirt design for the moment, is there anything else about the whole affair that is not "neutral where religion is concerned"?
    • If the T-shirts had said 'Brass Resurrections', and did have a picture of the crucifixion... would recalling the shirts have been the right course of action to take then?


    Well... This shirt has nothing to religion so I do not agree with their decision. So that answers bulletin number two. The answer to bulletin number three is "yes." But to answer bulletin number one, the school is not required to remain neutral with religion. In fact, (if my understanding of the word "neutral" is correct) the school is required to not remain neutral. Liljp67 hit the nail right on the head. The school is required to remain secular. So if a faculty member does something like make "Zeus loves marching band" t-shirts or something then the school would be required to not remain neutral and take action against the faculty member (of course if the faculty member did really use "Zeus," it would most likely be ignored because most people tend to think of Greek mythology as interesting stories to read but not a legitimate religion - but that doesn't make it any less wrong).
    ocalhoun
    liljp617 wrote:
    liljp617 wrote:
    ocalhoun wrote:

    Neutral, in the context of this discussion, would, to me, mean that if an issue surrounding religious beliefs arose in the school system, the school system should take no public, official stance on the issue and really shouldn't even discuss how to handle it. They would remain on the outside of the issue and let it figure itself out. I don't believe the school system should do this.

    I do believe the school system should do that.


    Hypothetically speaking, if an issue is being dealt with by opposing sides (one side opposes religion in schools, the other doesn't) and the side that desires religion to have its place in schools "wins," does the school system -- by school system I mean the people at the top making the decisions -- still remain on the outside of the issue? Is that not a clear violation of the way our government was purposely set up?

    If the school system was remaining outside the issue, neither side could possibly 'win'.

    Preferably, don't mention it at all, don't teach either side.
    If a side must be taught, then teach both sides, each time stressing that some people believe otherwise, and if any student asks 'which side is correct', tell them to ask their parents.
    iyepes
    Interesting that praying in front of students could be indoctrination. And what about when teachers curse, or smoke in front of them, why people are so suceptible when someone shows a different approach to religion to their children, are they afraid they stop being atheist?

    Children are exposed dayly to lots of bad influence, advertisement to drunk, to smoke, pornography, violence, game addiction, drugs; and some parents concern because a teacher is praying?

    I think some parents put their attention on the wrong side of the influence they children receive.
    liljp617
    iyepes wrote:
    Interesting that praying in front of students could be indoctrination. And what about when teachers curse, or smoke in front of them, why people are so suceptible when someone shows a different approach to religion to their children, are they afraid they stop being atheist?

    Children are exposed dayly to lots of bad influence, advertisement to drunk, to smoke, pornography, violence, game addiction, drugs; and some parents concern because a teacher is praying?

    I think some parents put their attention on the wrong side of the influence they children receive.


    You seem to imply that you believe pushing a religion in a biased manner onto young, easily influenced minds isn't harmful.

    I disagree.
    Indi
    iyepes wrote:
    Interesting that praying in front of students could be indoctrination.

    This has been repeated so many times that it is starting to get tedious. So this time, i will make the answer clear to see. Hopefully, that will stop people from making the same mistake over and over.

    The problem with prayer in schools is not indoctrination, it is establishment.

    The reason prayer in schools is wrong is not that it "indoctrinates" the students to anything. It is that it gives an official platform to religion... which is wrong in a secular society.

    iyepes wrote:
    And what about when teachers curse, or smoke in front of them, why people are so suceptible when someone shows a different approach to religion to their children, are they afraid they stop being atheist?

    Children are exposed dayly to lots of bad influence, advertisement to drunk, to smoke, pornography, violence, game addiction, drugs; and some parents concern because a teacher is praying?

    I think some parents put their attention on the wrong side of the influence they children receive.

    Again, this is not about influence, it is about establishment. The school those teachers taught at was a public school. Those teachers were government employees. They were acting as official representatives of the government. They are not allowed to give religion a public (in the governmental sense) platform.

    When their job ends, and those teachers punch out or sign out or whatever, they can walk across the street, set up a soapbox and pray with a megaphone if they want - it's a free country (provided they don't become a public disturbance, of course). But while they are acting in their capacity as government representatives they are required by the constitution to favour or hinder no religion.
    deanhills
    Indi wrote:
    they can walk across the street, set up a soapbox and pray with a megaphone if they want - it's a free country (provided they don't become a public disturbance, of course).
    Are you sure about this? As I am pretty much sure that the Principal would call them in the next day to censure them for their behaviour. It would be much too close to school. And it will most probably create a public disturbance of a kind by the act in its own right. There is usually an enormous invisible radius surrounding a school stretching blocks and blocks, and if it is a small town, the whole town. There is a certain onus on teachers to behave according to a certain standard when they are outside the school premises, even to the extent of the company they keep. In reverse, the society outside the school, especially in a small ultra religious town, may put pressure on the school to participate in religious activities. Against the law of course, as you have stated many times before, but it is real life.
    Ophois
    deanhills wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    they can walk across the street, set up a soapbox and pray with a megaphone if they want - it's a free country (provided they don't become a public disturbance, of course).

    Are you sure about this? As I am pretty much sure that the Principal would call them in the next day to censure them for their behaviour.
    While I understand Indi's example, that being that teachers can do on their free time what they like, you are correct. Many teachers have been reprimanded and even fired for similar things. I personally know a teacher who was fired for taking a job as a bikini waitress on a yacht... during summer break!

    A teacher in a public school has absolutely zero business doing anything religious. It's a state institution, not a religious one. It has nothing to do with prayer being bad, it has to do with separating church and state functions. Religious institutions seem to love their tax-exempt status and gobs of free government money, why would they want to go mucking that up by mixing religion into public schools anyway?
    Indi
    deanhills wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    they can walk across the street, set up a soapbox and pray with a megaphone if they want - it's a free country (provided they don't become a public disturbance, of course).
    Are you sure about this? As I am pretty much sure that the Principal would call them in the next day to censure them for their behaviour. It would be much too close to school. And it will most probably create a public disturbance of a kind by the act in its own right. There is usually an enormous invisible radius surrounding a school stretching blocks and blocks, and if it is a small town, the whole town. There is a certain onus on teachers to behave according to a certain standard when they are outside the school premises, even to the extent of the company they keep. In reverse, the society outside the school, especially in a small ultra religious town, may put pressure on the school to participate in religious activities. Against the law of course, as you have stated many times before, but it is real life.

    That is not "real life", that is the way people think "real life" is because so few people actually stand up for their rights... in fact, so few understand them. Even right here, both you and Ophois don't understand that exercising your right to free speech is entirely different from being able to do whatever you want.

    If a teacher left school - so that they were no longer acting as government officials - and then exercised their fundamental rights to assemble and speak out about their religion, they cannot be called in the next day and censured. That is blatantly illegal, and if it happened, the teacher would have a right to sue (they would have a right even if it were a private company, not just a public one). The "radius" argument? Nonsense. The size or religiosity of the town? Irrelevant. In fact, if a teacher made a conscientious effort to make sure that it was clear that they were not acting with official sanction, the teacher could even give a sermon on school grounds. (It would be tricky to justify, but hardly impossible. You would just have to prove that the sermon was being done as a form of protest.)

    Yes, religious communities will put pressure on schools to do religious things - but so what? No matter the pressure applied, the law is clear: religion and state are separate. Period. The problem is not the community applying pressure, it is the schools that cave in to the pressure. Lunacy! They have nothing to fear. They cannot lose their jobs or be censured for refusing to make their school religious in any way. i know the fear that this might happen exists... but it is groundless, and if more people understood their rights properly, they would know this. And if more people stood up for those rights, the pressure would likely go away, because it would be recognized for the impotent farce that it really is.

    Ophois wrote:
    deanhills wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    they can walk across the street, set up a soapbox and pray with a megaphone if they want - it's a free country (provided they don't become a public disturbance, of course).

    Are you sure about this? As I am pretty much sure that the Principal would call them in the next day to censure them for their behaviour.
    While I understand Indi's example, that being that teachers can do on their free time what they like, you are correct. Many teachers have been reprimanded and even fired for similar things. I personally know a teacher who was fired for taking a job as a bikini waitress on a yacht... during summer break!

    The law protects your right to practice your religion, or to speak out about your beliefs or cause. No part of being a bikini waitress falls into either of those categories.

    Freedom of speech means freedom of speech, it does not mean freedom to do whatever you want. If the school felt the need to fire the teacher for being a bikini waitress, there was nothing in the least bit illegal or improper about that decision. You may not think there is anything wrong with a teacher being a bikini waitress, but if the school board decides it undermines the teacher professionally and can make a reasonable case for why that is so (which is not really all that hard to do in this case), then tough cookies. If you don't like the school board's decision, either appeal it, or run for a board position and change it from the inside.
    Ophois
    Indi wrote:
    Even right here, both you and Ophois don't understand that exercising your right to free speech is entirely different from being able to do whatever you want.
    I understand it full well. I never said it was legal for a teacher to be fired for practicing their religion off the clock, I simply state what happens in 'real life'. People lose their jobs all the time for putting their religious beliefs on their MySpace pages. It may not be legal, but it sure does happen. Maybe my example wasn't exactly on point because it didn't involve religion or something else protected by law. I was just trying to say that schools, and many other employers, have and will continue to fire people for doing things they find unacceptable or unbecoming of one of their representatives, whether it's legally protected or not.
    Bikerman
    Ophois wrote:
    People lose their jobs all the time for putting their religious beliefs on their MySpace pages.
    Really? Can you support that? Presumably, if it is happening all the time, there must be hundreds of examples. Can you give me just a few?
    Ophois
    Bikerman wrote:
    Really? Can you support that? Presumably, if it is happening all the time, there must be hundreds of examples. Can you give me just a few?
    Sure thing.

    Quote:
    BURGETTSTOWN, PA -- A federal jury in Pittsburgh has awarded a Weirton man $100, 000 after they found he was fired from his job as a part-time police officer because of his religious beliefs.
    http://www.wtov9.com/news/15738102/detail.html

    Quote:
    A nurse has been sacked after suggesting during a role play session on a training course that a ‘patient’ could go to church to relieve stress.
    http://nursinglink.monster.com/news/articles/8367-nurse-fired-for-religious-beliefs

    Here's a juicy one.
    Quote:
    PHOENIX – A Phoenix jury has awarded more than $287,000 in a religious discrimination suit against Alamo Car Rental brought by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Alamo committed post-9/11 backlash discrimination based on religion when it fired a Somali customer sales representative in December 2001 for refusing to remove her head scarf during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
    http://www.eeoc.gov/press/6-4-07.html

    I have a feeling that someone is going to say these examples don't count because they didn't specifically have something to do with MySpace...
    Anyway, I can find literally hundreds of examples of people getting fired for religious discrimination. In a country that is such a huge melting pot of cultures, I would be shocked if there weren't cases like these. Like I said, it may not be legal, but it happens. Some people take action and do something about it(which is why we have evidence of it), but I'm sure there are many more that go unreported. As Indi stated, many people just don't understand their own rights.
    Bikerman
    Quote:
    I have a feeling that someone is going to say these examples don't count because they didn't specifically have something to do with MySpace...
    Anyway, I can find literally hundreds of examples of people getting fired for religious discrimination. In a country that is such a huge melting pot of cultures, I would be shocked if there weren't cases like these.

    Err...you would be correct. NOT ONE of those has anything to do with myspace, or indeed, more pertinently, to do with advertising your religious beliefs outside work. Every single one of them is to do with inappropriate behaviour AT WORK, and ALL of them were perfectly legal decisions.
    You are making unsubstantiated claims. I find this dishonest. Either back up your claims or withdraw them.
    Ophois
    Ugh... I forgot about the 'not at work' part. I searched for the wrong thing. I can find some of those too, just give me a minute.
    As for the MySpace thing... Seriously? Nit picking flavor text? Come on...
    Bikerman
    I await with interest. There was no 'nit picking' since my comments go to the heart of the debate. You don't have to stick to myspace (although I would advise you in future to be more careful with your generalisations). If you make specific claims in this forum you will be asked to justify them. If you can't, then you should withdraw them.
    Ophois
    Here are a few:

    This teacher was fired for something she did outside of work, based on her schools religious disapproval of her political ideals.
    Quote:
    Michele Curay-Cramer, a teacher at the Ursuline Academy, a private, Catholic school, was fired after she signed her name to a pro-choice advertisement in the local newspaper.
    http://altlaw.org/v1/cases/1378856

    This guy wrote an anti-gay article on his own time, at his home(it wasn't MySpace, but are we really splitting hairs that much around here?), and was fired. Last I checked, political beliefs were protected by law...
    Quote:
    A former manager with Allstate has sued the insurance giant, alleging the company, which financially supports homosexual advocacy groups, fired him solely because he wrote a column posted on several websites that was critical of same-sex marriage and espoused his Christian beliefs.
    http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=44961

    And here's another teacher getting the boot...
    Quote:
    A drama teacher has been fired by a Catholic high school because she worked as a volunteer at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2005/oct/16/local/me-sbriefs16

    These were all outside of work incidences, all based on religion or politics(both protected by law). I can go on...
    Bikerman
    Excellent. That is all I wanted - support for your contentions.
    Yes, I actually agree - these cases show that some employers act in a bigoted manner with regard to employment practices. The fact that Catholic employers can be bigots is well established in the history books. I take some comfort from the fact that the only one of these 3 cases that appears to have come before a court resulted in a decision that ruled against the employer.
    Ophois
    Bikerman wrote:
    Excellent. That is all I wanted - support for your contentions.
    Yes, I actually agree - these cases show that some employers act in a bigoted manner with regard to employment practices. The fact that Catholic employers can be bigots is well established in the history books. I take some comfort from the fact that the only one of these 3 cases that appears to have come before a court resulted in a decision that ruled against the employer.
    Thanks. I was under the impression that everyone in the civilized world was familiar with things like this happening, which is why I didn't cite anything right off. I pored over so many cases like these, but I tried to post only the ones that had any real legal merit. The sad thing is, there are many places like Florida(where I live), which have the "right to work" laws. Meaning that a person can be fired for any reason, at any time. So we end up with people getting fired for what could be differences of religion(either in or out of work), and yet can take no legal action(they can, but it doesn't matter) due to the "right to work" law.
    Bikerman
    You'll find that I often challenge assertions - particularly in this forum. I think it behoves people who want to argue in a philosophy forum to be quite careful in making assertions and generalisations (even if those assertions are ones which I would agree with).

    Now, I want to challenge this latest assertion.* As I understand it, the Right to Work legislation affects the right to belong to a Union. It doesn't suspend normal legislation law. They then can, as you say, take legal action. Why does it not matter? I presume, because people cannot organise sufficiently to take the necessary court action?

    * As a lifelong trade-unionist I find that particular law very objectionable
    Indi
    Ophois wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    Even right here, both you and Ophois don't understand that exercising your right to free speech is entirely different from being able to do whatever you want.
    I understand it full well. I never said it was legal for a teacher to be fired for practicing their religion off the clock, I simply state what happens in 'real life'. People lose their jobs all the time for putting their religious beliefs on their MySpace pages. It may not be legal, but it sure does happen. Maybe my example wasn't exactly on point because it didn't involve religion or something else protected by law. I was just trying to say that schools, and many other employers, have and will continue to fire people for doing things they find unacceptable or unbecoming of one of their representatives, whether it's legally protected or not.

    No, you really don't understand it - or if you do, then you are intentionally making a pointless non seqitur. Because you toss out "whether it's legally protected or not" as if it makes no difference either way, when that is the whole point. It makes a HUGE difference whether it's legally protected or not. If it's not, any employer (government or not) can fire you for any thing at any time, provided they can come up with reasonable justification. Teachers can be fired for working bikini cruises, or for making nasty MySpace posts about their coworkers, or anything, really. If it is legally protected, then they effectively weren't fired - because when they go to court they will win all back pay, all severance pay plus damages plus they have the option of going back to work. All of those examples you gave (insofar as i could tell by skimming them) are not cases where they system is not working, they are simply cases where someone broke the law (and, when the case goes to court, they will likely win).

    It's like someone has said "theft is illegal and is always punishable by law when caught", and you responded by posting a bunch of stories about people who were robbed. What are you trying to say by doing that? That theft happens? Well, no kidding, but the point wasn't that it doesn't happen, it was that it is illegal and is never let off without punishment when it happens. If more people knew that, it would probably happen less.
    deanhills
    Indi wrote:
    If more people knew that, it would probably happen less.
    Or it could happen more for right-wing agitators who would then have clear targets for agitating against this legislation. Particularly in school regions situated in the Bible belts where they would get spontaneous support.
    Indi
    deanhills wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    If more people knew that, it would probably happen less.
    Or it could happen more for right-wing agitators who would then have clear targets for agitating against this legislation. Particularly in school regions situated in the Bible belts where they would get spontaneous support.

    You don't avoid doing the right thing because it might piss off people who want you to do the wrong thing.

    As i've kept repeating - support is irrelevant. The US is unique in the fact that it is one of the only countries in the world - if not the only country - where this is true. It doesn't matter how many Bible Belt agitators get their panties in a twist. The fact that public institutions must remain religion-free is not something that rabble-rousing moral crusaders can change.

    You are giving power to the rabble-rousers when you treat their nonsense as a legitimate concern. It's not. Whenever people say things like "oh, it's just something that happens in our society (that people get fired from public jobs for blatantly religious reasons, for example)... we can say it's wrong, but meh, it happens and it's going to continue happening", it emboldens the criminals who do these things - it makes it sound like they might get away with it because, after all, "it happens".

    Yeah, well, rape happens, too. But when someone says rape is wrong, you don't hear people replying with things like, "yeah, but hundreds of people get raped every year, and that will likely continue happening, so, meh, what are you going to do, right? it's just something we have to live with." You don't hear people replying with things like, "yeah, but if we started a campaign against rape, you're just going to enrage the fundamentalist Muslims who believe they have a God-given right to rape their wives."

    It's not cool to give those kinds of replies to someone who says that "we have to stop rape". So why is it cool give virtually identical responses to someone who says that "we have to stop religious intrusion into public institutions"?

    It is wrong, pure and simple - both as a matter of law (in the US), and as a matter of reason (everywhere). People are trying to put a stop to it, people are trying to fight it. How about not devaluing the problem, and not devaluing the efforts of the people who are trying to fix it? That doesn't seem like too much to ask. At the very least, how about not giving credence and legitimacy to the ones who are in the wrong. You shouldn't be saying that we should be worried about Bible Belt agitators who might use their numbers to bully the rest of the world into bowing to their religious will... you should be mocking them as criminal supporters (because they would be supporting criminal acts), and dismissing them as loud-mouthed fools who would like the world to bow to their idiocy when that's clearly not going to happen in any version of reality where reason prevails. You might even spare a few legal battles if you would help convince these people that they're tilting at windmills, rather than giving them confidence that they might make a difference (when they probably won't, and if they did that would be a bad thing).
    deanhills
    Indi wrote:
    deanhills wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    If more people knew that, it would probably happen less.
    Or it could happen more for right-wing agitators who would then have clear targets for agitating against this legislation. Particularly in school regions situated in the Bible belts where they would get spontaneous support.

    You don't avoid doing the right thing because it might piss off people who want you to do the wrong thing.
    That is not what I said. I was responding to your statement that if more people knew they would be punished if they had broken that particular law that there would have been less breaking of the law.

    My argument was that if more people knew that that was a law, you would have more people breaking that particular law. Rubbing it under their noses would have been the equivalent of the red flag to a bull.

    I totally agree with you that you don't avoid doing the right thing because it might piss off people. That is something completely different though to what I had said.
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