Monday, February 17, 2003

Why is it that East Tennessee, whch I love, can be the scene of some ridiculous and hurtful exercises? A poor little girl in Union County was getting beaten up, sent to the principal's office, and generally discriminated against, because she declined to participate in school hours field trips to church revivals, refused to play Mary in a nativity play, and the like. Glenn Reynolds has a thoughtful column on the subject, referencing the Knoxville News-Sentinel article on the subject.

Being Jewish, I have a particular empathy on issues such as this one. The Constitutional Establishment Clause within the First Amendment was specifically intended to protect the rights of the minority of people; that's why the state shall support no establishment of a particular religious orientation. By the way, that's also why it's irrelevant that 85% polled [or some such statistic] support prayer in public schools. Of course the majority want their religion; that's why we have the Bill or Rights -- to protect those such as this little girl.

When the entire school -- except this girl -- leaves --during school, mind you -- to go to a church revival, that's tantamount to endorsement and establishment of that particular religious position. When you're in the minority in a peer-conscious environment such as school, it's hard enough to get through the day, without this type of not-so-subtle proselytizing. What's so wrong with leaving religion to the home, and leaving education free of religious inundation?

I have always believed that East Tennesseeans, at least, simply do not comprehend how painful it is to subject children to this type of pressure. If they ever do understand it, i think no one would object to putting a stop to such shameful practices. If not, then I think that school should be let out and students be sent to services for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipper, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and every other religious event in the book. What's fair and right for one is fair and right for all.

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