Imagine a public school district in the heartland of America where a majority of students, parents and teachers happen to practice the Islamic faith, and want to use the public schools as an instrument to endorse, promote, and proselytize their Muslim faith to all the students at every school in the district before, during, and after regular school hours.
Imagine the teachers in this public school district distributing copies of the Koran to all the kids; displaying Islamic iconography on classroom walls; delivering Islamic prayers over the loudspeaker during class and at other school events; and holding graduation ceremonies at a local mosque.
Imagine a Muslim youth cleric in this public school district having regular access to school lunchrooms; visiting every table (whether invited or not); speaking to the captive students about his mosque, his Islamic youth mission, and faith in the prophet Muhammad.
Finally, imagine the local mosque promoting a celebration of an annual public school related event and the public school district allowing students to be bussed over to the mosque during regular school hours, using county school buses, to spend the day there watching movies, eating treats, and playing games, while the minority kids choosing not to attend are obliged to remain at school to complete additional work assignments.
We don’t have to think very long or hard to conclude what the evangelical Christian minority, and other religious and non-religious minorities in the district, would do about that. They’d be dialing the ACLU on their cell phones before you could say “amen.”
They’d complain to Hell and High Heaven that their public school district is deliberately violating the First Amendment Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution – you know, that legal principle which provides for separation between government and religion.
I can hear them all now, shouting their legal outrage in chorus: “A public school district cannot promote religion.” “They can’t use the schools to proselytize a religious faith.” “They can’t distribute religious literature at public schools; display religious symbols on classroom walls; give religious prayers on the public address system; and hold graduation ceremonies at religious houses of worship.”
“Surely, public schools can’t allow religious cleric’s preaching to our kids in the cafeteria during lunch; and busing students from the school to a place of worship to enjoy playtime and favored treatment while the rest of the kids remain at school working.” “That’s unconstitutional,” they’d cry.
And, of course, they’d be right; right on all counts. A public school shouldn’t be doing any of those things. The constitutional principle is so easy to understand when the other fellow is violating it, but so difficult for the violator’s to accept.
Public school districts in America have been flouting the Constitution in this fashion for many decades. School prayer in public classrooms was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1940’s; school administrator’s know that, but continue to lead students in prayer anyway every day at many schools all across the country.
Even now, certain public school board members from Sumner County Tennessee simply can’t understand why the American Civil Liberties Union is complaining on behalf of a few minority families that the district is unlawfully promoting Christianity to students in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
In Sumner County, Tennessee, the public schools endorse Christianity. Christian Bibles are distributed to kids at school; Christian crosses hang on classroom walls; sectarian prayers are delivered over the loudspeaker during class and at school events; and graduation is held at Long Hollow Baptist Church.
In Sumner County, Tennessee, a youth minister from Long Hollow Baptist Church is given access to the school lunchrooms to visit each table (whether invited or not), while the kids are eating their lunch, to speak to them about his church, his ministry, and faith in Jesus.
In Sumner County, Tennessee, the Long Hollow Baptist Church holds an annual event called “TCAP’aloosa to celebrate the end of Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment (TCAP) testing. Students are bussed over to the church in Sumner County school buses, to spend the day watching movies, eating treats, and playing games, while students who refuse to attend must stay at school doing extra work assignments.
This is all just one more problem with public schools. When it comes to cultural values, they’d sooner proselytize than educate your child.