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THE DARK SIDE: Religion has no place in public schools

Many years ago, I attended a public high school student’s graduation ceremony out in what I consider the sticks.

I was amazed at the overt Christianity. There was a prayer at the beginning, and again at the end. The commencement speeches were full of references to God.

My own public high school was roughly one-third Jewish, so this wouldn’t have flown. Someone would have sued, and rightfully so. A Jewish student should be able to go to his own public high school graduation without being told he needs to pray to Jesus Christ.

But out in the sticks, I guess, that sort of thing was okay.

Being a lawyer, I approached the father of the graduate, knowing he was not religious, and asked if he would like to bring a lawsuit against the school district. He said he found the ceremony offensive, but that he owns a business in that town, and he was certainly not going to bring a lawsuit just because they turned his son’s graduation ceremony into a revival meeting. Fair enough. I let the matter drop.

I was reminded of that incident last week when the 7th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Elmbrook School District, alleging that it violated the Establishment Clause by holding graduation ceremonies in a church.

Apparently, it wasn’t even the district’s idea, but that of the students. It seems they liked the church because it was big enough that students could invite lots of guests, it was air conditioned and had lots of parking. The gymnasium where the district previously held ceremonies was none of the above. And the ceremony itself was not religious, in contrast to the one I attended many years ago.

But, people sued anyway, just because the ceremony was in a church. Based on the above circumstances, the court held the ceremony did not violate the Establishment Clause.

One of these days, though, I’d like to see an Establishment Clause case brought against a public school district challenging what is really the religion taught in the schools and practiced at graduation ceremonies: a sick blend of socialism and environmentalism.

Despite all the Christian prayers at that graduation ceremony I attended, they were but a drop of water in a sea of mindless dreck about how public service is nobler than working for or founding a for-profit corporation, and how the students should go on in life to protect the environment from us evildoers who work in the private sector.

Even out in the boonies, where no one bats an eye at Christian prayers at a public school graduation, the one true faith that the government has established is actually worship of more government. Despite all the talk of Heaven in the afterlife, the real goal is Heaven on Earth, to be achieved by eliminating the private sector and making us all good little jobholders (that’s an archaic term for bureaucrats, for those of you who haven’t read your Mencken).

As far as I’m concerned, I have a First Amendment right to attend a public school graduation ceremony without having the false gods of socialism and environmentalism shoved down my throat.

In the Elmbrook case, the court held that merely holding the ceremony in a church did not convey the idea that the school endorsed that religion. In contrast, the government does endorse the worship of government, and any reasonable person in attendance at a graduation ceremony would know that the government is engaged in proselytizing.

So, does anybody who has a child in high school want to sue a school district?

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  1. So far as I’m aware (unlike you, I am not a lawyer), there is no constitutional establishment clause dealing with social ideologies like there is for religions. While you’re free to sue, I can’t imagine what criteria you’d use to show grounds. Simply characterizing socialism and environmentalism as “fals gods” would likely not cut it.

  2. Characterizing socialism and environmentalism as “fals gods” in order to sue is quiet an interessting idea. Might I recommend a 101 in political sciences?

  3. I want to sue!

    The religion of global warming is permeating every school district!

    I can’t stand the overt zealotry on the warming religion and its disciples in public schools.

    Now that the religion of corn ethanol has been debunked by religous guru Al Gore, I think we can get the lead global warming priest on false advertising under Wis. Stats. 100.18.

    Let’s do it! Class action?

  4. I remember having the “false god” of environmentalism “shoved down my throat” in grade school. “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” tried to teach us not to litter. Being a true patriot, I litter every chance I get. Nothing should impede our freedoms. In fact, if I owned a factory, I would pour toxins into the “public” waterways like there was no tomorrow! Yeah, that’d show those socialists who’s boss. I’d be the best job creator ever: I’d create jobs at my factory, jobs for water testers, jobs for water filtration companies, jobs for hospitals, doctors, nurses, and drug companies treating all the cancer victims. But no, I can’t do any of it because of those stupid regulations created by stupid government representatives created by stupid schools that teach public service and environmentalism. Let’s sue based on the fact that all “isms” are beliefs and therefore religions, e.g. capitalism, the one true religion.

  5. The “worship of more government” is what is killing our country. We are so far removed from the Founding Fathers vision of limited government that they would never recognize it. They believed the individual was the prime focus with government being a necessary, but corruptible, tool and evil. So they wanted it limited. Today, government is master and “we the people” basically its slaves. What we fought a civil war to eliminate has been brought back in another form. Rather than race-based slavery, we have economic slavery which is just as bad in its own way.

  6. The 2 previous responses is why its a problem to EXCLUDE “religion” from public schools.

    Its a race to censorship.

    The right thing to do is to give forum for all points of view, including Christianity.

  7. There was a reason religion was excluded from public schools. The majority Christian denomination in an area would include religious practices that were anathema to another minority Christian sect, for example, Catholics encouraging “works” rather than teaching the Protestant “grace.” Taken out of schools, each family could raise their children with their own traditions and beliefs. Left in schools, believers of the minority religion were left out of events, hated, and ostracized for their faith. An example of that which could easily happen today would be Jehovah’s Witness children unable to celebrate Christmas. I imagine some children were converted just so they wouldn’t feel left out. There are moral issues that are taken for granted in schools like the need to share and clean up after yourself and not resort to violence, but I don’t find them especially controversial. Public service and environmentalism don’t seem that controversial, but I guess they’ve been politicized to such a degree that they’re now code for which political party you’re in. Too bad, really, but a matter of civics not religion.

  8. What about the Packers? One more public figure tells me how great the Packers are and then I will be calling Mr. Ziemer to file my frivolous lawsuit. No more Jerseys, no more awards for Aaron Rogers, no more streets named after people I’ve never heard of, no more tax dollars wasted on concussion studies, and no more public airwaves polluted by (alleged) wife beaters who happen to be employed as sportscasters.

    If we are just saying opinions we disagree with are religious I would also like to sue the people engaged in the worship of Mark Belling, Charlie Sykes, and ah what the heck, lets throw Donald Trump in there too.

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