Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Supremes OK Establishment Of Religion In California Schools

SF Chronicle:

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday by evangelical Christian students and their parents who said a Contra Costa County school district engaged in unconstitutional religious indoctrination when it taught students about Islam by having them recite language from prayers. The court, without comment, left intact a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last November in favor of the Byron Union School District in eastern Contra Costa. The suit challenged the content of a seventh-grade history course at Excelsior Middle School in Byron in the fall of 2001. The teacher, using an instructional guide, told students they would adopt roles as Muslims for three weeks to help them learn what Muslims believe. She encouraged them to use Muslim names, recited prayers in class, had them memorize and recite a passage from the Quran and made them give up something for a day, such as television or candy, to simulate fasting during the month of Ramadan. The final exam asked students for a critique of elements of Muslim culture. The students and parents who sued argued that the class activities had crossed the line from education into an official endorsement of a religious practice. A federal judge and the appeals court disagreed, saying the class had an instructional purpose and the students had engaged in no actual religious exercises.

Of course the ACLU are disappointed that the Courts are allowing such blatant endorsement and promotion of religious activities right? Wrong...this case went all the way to the Supreme Court and never even raised an eyebrow at the ACLU. However, they didn't miss the chance to fight "Praying parents, and Prayer at the Flagpole". The ACLU said those were clearly unconstitutional. Yet they have no official statement on this case. I think the obvious flag that rises in this case is the double standard. I doubt this would have escaped the ACLU's attention if the religion being promoted were Christianity. Thomas More Law Center noticed the same thing.

...but according to Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Law Center, "There is a double-standard at play in this case. If the students had done similar activities in a class on Christianity, a constitutional violation would surely have been found." He said that, "If the public school's practice is upheld on appeal, all public schools should begin teaching classes on Christianity in the same manner as the Islam class was taught in this case." Added Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Law Center: "Rather than teach students about Islam, which is constitutional, the public school crossed the constitutional line and began indoctrinating students." "The public school", he said, "placed students into the position of being trainees in Islam, which is impermissible in a public school."

So what about that seperation of church and state stuff? Does that only apply to Christianity? I'm shocked the Supreme Court didn't find this case important enough to hear on its merits.