The offending papers were excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, the "Rights of the Colonists" by Samuel Adams, the "Frame of Government of Pennsylvania by William Penn, the prayer journal of George Washington and an article about currency and coins marked with the phrase "In God We Trust." If she thought this was "proselytizing," the principal has a poor understanding of both religious faith and the history of her country.
A lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian group based in Arizona, who filed a federal lawsuit on the teacher's behalf, describes the principal's attitude as typical of those who have an "allergic reaction" to any mention of God in the schools. That sounds about right to me.
"When it comes to these types of things," says Jordan Lorence, the lawyer, "the cultural norm seems to be that you are allowed to be hypersensitive to any mention of God in a public setting, no matter what the context is. Anyone who disagrees is just an ignorant rube from a hayseed red state."
There are lots of ignorant rubes in Washington and across the country, from states both red and blue, at this time of the year. You can see the proclamations of faith on their front lawns, in their windows and inside their houses as well as the public parks that belong to all of us. But some of us are growing increasingly intolerant in the name of "tolerance," denying children an understanding of the historical underpinnings of faith and the way it made America a beacon of religious liberty.
Aviva Kempner, a documentary filmmaker, is showing excerpts from her film about "The Goldbergs," a popular radio and television program 70 years ago about a Jewish immigrant family. In one of the film clips, Molly Goldberg, the Jewish matriarch, tells a neighbor about what "a smart man" her father was - he caught the boat to America. He crossed the seas for the same reasons the Pilgrims did, she says proudly, "to worship freely."
That's why we set lights ablaze everywhere this season. It's a shame when we turn them out in the classrooms in the name of ignorance.