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I think the school district is interpreting the current legal atmosphere too rigidly. The chances of them losing a court case here would be astronomically low if they let the kid say his prayer, but then it didn't help his case much that each new draft of his speech was more antagonistic to the school. So, do I think the school did the right thing here? No. Do I think their actions indicate we live in a culture that is highly sensitive to religious matters? Yes. Do I think this is an indication of a massive conspiracy to snuff out Christianity in America? Of course not.
Darby - public high schools are run by the local and state government. That's what makes them public. How many pagan holidays does the federal government recognize with as national holiday? How many presidents of any other religion have we had? How many members of Congress of any other religion do we have? How many deities of other religions does the pledge of allegiance or our currency mention? How frequently does the most popular news network in the country (by a wide margin) discuss Christianity compared to any other religion? If you go looking for a reason to feel like a victim, you'll find one - liberals always do.
Well, I guess you didn't see it last time, so I'll just paste it again: A government function opening with a basic Christian prayer would not have endangered that in an age where damn near everybody in America was some kind of Christian. A government function including a Christian prayer nowadays DOES endanger that, and don't try the straw man about how it might "offend" someone - this is about the government taking a side in an area where the founders wanted it to stay neutral. And I'll say this again, too: it is in terrible taste to act as though Christianity is suppressed in America today. Go to Somalia - they'll show you what suppression looks like. No religion in America is given more deference than Christianity - to anybody but a right-wing Christian looking for a reason to feel like a martyr, America is bursting with Christianity.
Nijer: give one example where a student was ALLOWED to thank Visnu or Allah. I'll make you a deal: for every example you provide, I'll find 10 examples of students being allowed to thank God or Jesus.
Darby: the 14th amendment, in practice, extends the Bill of Rights to state and local bodies.
"Many church services were held in govt buildings" Many still are. The key is that the government opens its buildings for use by all religions and does not discriminate. "many govt meetings were held in churches" Less common, but I'd be surprised if it never happens. "almost all public schools used the Bible for a text" Still happens. I went to a public high school in NJ where we read the Bible in English class without any fuss. Any time this has ever been brought up in court, it's been defended without qualification. "Our founders wrote the first to protect those things, not eliminate them." They wrote the first to ensure that the US government would never take a side in religious matters. A politician going to church does not endanger that. Government buildings opening themselves to use by religious organizations does not endanger that as long as they remain open for EVERY religious organization. A government function opening with a basic Christian prayer would not have endangered that in an age where damn near everybody in America was some kind of Christian. A government function including a Christian prayer nowadays DOES endanger that, and don't try the straw man about how it might "offend" someone - this is about the government taking a side in an area where the founders wanted it to stay neutral.
"Well if 5 people in robes say endorse means establish, who are we to question them" Start with the question "Why do I think I know the law better than the supreme judicial body in the country," with the possible follow-up of "Am I REALLY sure I know what 'establish' means? Like, all of its definitions, or at least the first two?" "Our founders would be disgusted at our submission to such oppression." Like Thomas Jefferson, who approved of the first amendment for, as he explicitly wrote, "building a wall of separation between Church & State"? Yeah, he'd be appalled.
"The straw man here is yours - the concept that for someone to say something religious in the hearing of someone else while on school property or in the public square is an "establishment or religion" - as if it is the job of the governmental organs to police people's speech" Here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorsement_test Government endorsement of a religion violates the first amendment. That is not my opinion - that is the Supreme Court's interpretation of the the first amendment. "as if it is the job of the governmental organs to police people's speech" This isn't just some guy speaking his mind out in the streets. He's a speaker, approved by the school, speaking at an official school function; his speech has also been run by the administration for its approval. To at least some extent, this is not just his own free speech - he is speaking on behalf of the school with words that bear the imprint of the school. That could be interpreted as government acknowledgment. Your comments all seem to overlook that this is not some random event that the school is imposing itself on. This is an official school event - why wouldn't they be able to exert some control over the speech? You're correct when you say that the first amendment doesn't disappear when you enter the schoolhouse gate, but you're wrong in thinking that the school is powerless to intervene when you speak on its behalf.
"The number of born again Christians in the U.S. is about 35%. That is hardly a majority in anything." Kindly point out how this number is inconsistent with what I actually said (hint: I did not use the word "majority"). "Employers frequently won't hire Christians because their work is too good and because having one on the staff makes them "feel uncomfortable" despite the latter being ruled by the Supreme Court as no basis for legal actions." I'm going to need a citation for this or I'm calling BS. "When you have the government, the media, and a considerable chunk of the public constantly attacking and denigrating Christians, then it's reasonable to consider Christians an oppressed minority." Except that half the government, one of two viable parties, is very strongly influenced by the Christian Right. Christians are given far more deference than any other religion in America.
Students praying: acceptable. Students leading other students in prayer: acceptable. Students leading prayer that has been officially approved by administrators: unacceptable endorsement of religion by school officials
"if you have a manger scene or a Ten Commandments plaque in a public(government owned) park or on a public (government) building, you are FORCING THEM to join a Christian religion or to pray along with you." Nope. That's a straw man. The idea isn't compulsion to join a religion - it's the idea of the government endorsing one religion over another. The first amendment relies on the government not doing this, but if a government-approved speech at a government-approved event includes a Christian prayer, then the government is endorsing a specific kind of Christianity. The importance of government neutrality on religion doesn't disappear just because non-Christian minorities are getting bigger in America - it becomes more important than ever. Maybe you should ask yourself why the Founding Fathers specifically avoided establishing Christianity the official religion of the country and avoided making any references to God or Christ in the Constitution.
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