The American “Civil Liberties” Union, along with People for the American Way and Jenner & Block, LLP, has filed a lawsuit against Ector County Independent School District, demanding the Odessa school system to stop teaching an optional Bible course, saying the elective “violates their religious liberty”.
The plaintiffs’ position:
“It’s important for students to be educated about religion and the role that people of faith have played in our history, but the Bible course being taught in Odessa gets a grade of F for failing to comply with the Constitution. The course is not designed to teach about religion — it’s designed to promote religion, and a very particular religious viewpoint at that,” said Judith E. Schaeffer, Legal Director of People For the American Way Foundation. “While public schools can teach students about the Bible, the Odessa Bible course presents the Bible to students from a specific sectarian perspective, and that’s a clear violation of the First Amendment.”
Doug Hildebrand, one of the parents bringing the lawsuit and an ordained elder and deacon at a local Presbyterian church, said, “Religion is very important in my family and we are very involved in our religious community. But the public schools are no place for religious indoctrination that promotes certain beliefs that not all the kids in the school share. It seems like a church has invaded our school system — and it’s not my church.”
“This class is not about educating students. It is about proselytizing one set of religious beliefs to the exclusion of others,” said Daniel Mach, Director of Litigation for the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Students who don’t share those beliefs should not be treated as outsiders by their own schools.”
The other side, per CNN:
The Ector school board approved the high school elective in 2005. It teaches the King James version of the sacred text using material produced by the Greensboro, North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, and uses the Bible as the students’ textbook.
Backers of the National Council include David Barton, who operates a Web site that promotes helping local officials develop policies that reflect Biblical views and encourages Christian involvement in civic affairs. Other supporters of the program include the conservative American Family Association, Eagle Forum and Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute.
“There is no question that these Bible electives are constitutional,” said Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Legal’s chief counsel. “The United States Supreme Court has stated more than once that teaching about the Bible is not only constitutional, but essential to a quality education. This lawsuit is a loser.”
Frequent readers will not be surprised to learn that I think the ACLU is wrong to pursue the lawsuit. More on that later.
It’s Doug Hildebrand in particular who ought to be ashamed of his part in this matter. Regardless of the outcome his hometown is certain to suffer long-lasting divisions that a godly man would not inflict on his neighbors. One expects such boorish bullying from the P.C. code enforcers at the ACLU, but from a local? No.
Hildebrand’s complaint that “public schools are no place for religious indoctrination that promotes certain beliefs that not all the kids in the school share” is preposterous. Does any group of people larger than 2 ever share the same set of religious beliefs? And who ever said that we have the right to be free of conflicting opinions?
If the course were required for graduation then I could accept Hildebrand’s point. But it’s an elective and no one is forced to take it. Hildebrand should get over himself and work on keeping his community together instead of deliberately dividing it.
Back to the ACLU. The reality is that they are the ones who are interfering with religious freedoms by filing lawsuits like this one. One of the group’s agendas has always been the suppression of the Christian religion and this case is no exception, Mach’s false piety aside.
Lawsuits, with their financial implications, whether with or without merit, have a calculatedly chilling effect on religion, particularly in small or “less than wealthy” communities. That’s repressing religious freedom by any definition and that’s what the ACLU is doing in Ector.
But there is hope yet. Should the ACLU prevail in this case they will undoubtedly challenge Texas’ new law allowing Bible classes to be taught in any interested school district. Governor Rick Perry and Attorney Greg Abbot are probably salivating at the thought if opening a Texas-sized can of whup-ass on these Yankee carpetbaggers.
As has been pointed out by some of you in the past, it’s not enough for the ACLU’s card-carrying America-haters to be able to live as they see fit. Nor is it enough to have created their crime-ridden liberal safe havens on the east and west coasts. They feel compelled to force their views into every corner of American and onto people who despise everything the ACLU stands for. Why? Because they can’t stand the idea that someone might dare to think for themselves and choose to believe.
Thanks, Mr. Mach – I feel more liberated already.
In related news, the ACLU evidently hasn’t heard about plans to open a Islamic public school in New York City that would be taught in Arabic and observe Muslim rather than traditional American holidays.
Where’s Mach’s outrage in this case? Indeed, where is the MSM’s coverage of this travesty? Where are the voices of Americans who believe that Muslims must join us rather than forming their own shadow society?
Yet it’s exactly this sort of deviancy from the American norm that we should be concerned with, not Ector county’s Bible class.
For me the real danger with allowing Ector county’s course to continue is that such a course, even an optional one, gives the “equal outcome” crowd an opportunity to bang the drum for minority religions like Islam and demand that they receive “equal time”. All they have to do is find the right judge to play their tune to…
I remain ever hopeful, however, that Americans someday gather enough wit and courage to insist that 1% of the population should not be allowed to bully the vast majority.
Phil Harris writes about the Church of Secularism at TownHall:
Freedom from religion is a delusional fantasy shared by atheists, liberals, and the varied collection of First Amendment interpreters, who see in it a prescription for religious sterility. Membership in one of these camps is required; otherwise, any individual would recognize the absurdity of stretching and molding the words of the amendment, like so much silly putty. The collective effort of these people does not strengthen their argument, but rather, masks the fallaciousness behind a deafening roar of monotonous repetition.
Read the rest.