The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise clause are almost by definition a contradiction when it comes to public schools, and it’s no wonder that’s where most of the challenges arise, because it is in the arena of public schools that a Government run institution and individuals under the age of 18 or are forced to spend time together.
Essentially unless your kids are in private schools, they are 100% required to hang out on government property for upwards of 8 hours a day. If they play sports or are involved in any extracurricular activities, they could spend 50+ hours a week at their school.
Just three questions (okay 5!):
1) Unless we assume that kids (and teachers for that matter) are supposed to be mindless, thoughtless, emotionless robots for those 50+ hours, aren’t “free exercise” and “establishment” bound to clash?
2) Does “free exercise” only apply in the privacy of your own homes or in your churches?
3) Is the problem that people are just afraid that their kids will be misled into a religious cult, or that they just don’t want their kids to be “offended” or “left-out” for being in the minority.
And on that last question, if the answer is the former, then don’t the parents of the “free exercisers” have an equal right to complain about their families’ religious rights being squashed? And if the latter, then aren’t there a PLETHORA of other things that kids will likely be exposed to on that sacred ground called “Government Property” that make them feel offended or left out MUCH MORE than religion will (sex, athletics, jealousy, war, pestilence, bad language, poverty, violence, etc.).
Even though the former is a concern, almost EVERY CASE where “establishment” wins over “free exercise” on school property, the reason cited is that it could offend those of other religions (or no religion) or make them feel “left out”. ALMOST EVERY ONE! Guess what. Feeling left out and offended is NOT religious persecution. If you want religious persecution, take a look at the entire history of the Jewish race (and if it’ll make you feel better you can stop at 1913), or the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition, or the Protestant Reformation, or the Samurai of Japan, you name it. There are probably hundreds of examples of institutional religious persecution throughout our world’s history–a kid feeling “left out” because he heard someone praying, or his teacher said “Merry Christmas” does NOT qualify.
Here’s the secret: IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE KIDS! In almost every case it is not the kids who complain, but the parents, (another good book to read is My Life Without God, by William Murray–this is the kid at the center of the Baltimore prayer in schools case in the early 70s) yet the reasons that are cited are that the kid will be ostracised. So do the kids feel left out…or the parents?
Here are a couple of good resources on the issue:
Posted at 06:00 pm by Logipundit