That Pesky First Amendment comes up again…..

Here at Slabbed we’re the proverbial tip of the spear on the topic of other countries trying to force their speech mores on our constitutionally guaranteed rights here in the US. Just a few weeks ago the cartoon series South Park was banned in China because of a side-splitting funny episode involving Randy Marsh selling his Colorado weed there. Very recently the subject reared its head again with the NBA, Lebron and Enes Kanter, again with China and Chinese censors as the focal point. Lebron wants everyone to shut up and count the money while Kanter understands that Freedom is not free. When it comes to political expression (or covering a crooked local politician) I personally don’t give a damn what the Chinese think.

Last week there was a dust up at the Bay-Waveland School District involving a family that is not religious (whose name was mentioned in comments here) and the “establishment clause”, one of the 6 rights contained in the first amendment:

(1) the right to be free from governmental establishment of religion (the “Establishment Clause”)
(2) the right to be free from governmental interference with the practice of religion (the “Free Exercise Clause”)
(3) the right to free speech
(4) the right to freedom of the press
(5) the right to assemble peacefully (which includes the right to associate freely with whomever one chooses)
(6) the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Secular humanist group wants religion taken out of Bay-Waveland school system ~ Cassandra Favre

Some of the complaints listed by Appignani Humanist Legal Center of the American Humanist Association have legal legs as teachers should refrain from sharing their religious views in the school house. Outside of the school house is a different story which would explain why Reverend Reed pushed back so hard against the notion that a voluntary prayer breakfast his church hosts for the football team crosses any lines because it doesn’t in my opinion.

All that aside, as a practical matter commenter BJ summed it up best because trying to take prayer out of a deep south public school is like an endless game of whack-a-mole:

I’ve seen this play out. They won’t get their way, this totally underrepresented legal group will come up with a bogus suit, the school will pay out nothing to the plaintiffs, the school will spend some money to defend the action that may lead to a policy change … but the policy change will never be enforced, because what I know, we are and will remain a praying community.

There is a tension between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Best case here is for the complaining parents and the school district to work things out among themselves. When a public interest group gets involved the chances of that do not seem likely.  We’ll be keeping an eye peeled on this story.

5 thoughts on “That Pesky First Amendment comes up again…..”

  1. It’s ironic that some people rely on the 1st Amendment to deprive others freedom of speech that also includes the 2nd Amendment . As one that has experienced phisical brutality exersicing the 1st Amendment in a public political setting I have become aware that laws for redress are presently insufficient .

  2. I’ve lived in the Bay since 1996. Before that it was NC and Virginia for 15 years, so I have a bit of experience with the Bible Belt. And for the most part I have kept my mouth shut. That doesn’t mean I care for the “In God We Trust” on my mandatory plate. Or the pastors opening most assemblies and sporting events and grad ceremonies. I am trying to be respectful and discreet about their beliefs and mine. I failed to see how respecting y’alls religion could ever be a bad thing. I guess I thought the respect would be reciprocated.
    But their religious freedoms end though where mine begin. So telling my 8 yr old she was going to burn in Hell unless she was “saved” and washed in the blood of Jesus was over the line. She came home crying, “Mama, What ARE we?” Human, I said, not knowing the “what” she was referencing. I finally got the whole story. Some girls ganged up on her. Where I grew up religions were not so focused on punishment but on living in God’s love and keeping that spirit in all we did. If the only way you get people to toe the line is the threat of infinite torture, you have a problem with the foundation that you base your faith on. In my oh so humble opinion.

    I was very fortunate to grow up in an area with some diversity. And my parents encouraged us to experience my friends’ faiths. So I got to attend Mass with lace mantillas and all the beauty and ritual of Catholicism. We ate fish on Friday even though we weren’t required to. Neither were my Jewish friends. I got to sit at Seder dinners on Friday night, and go to Bar Mitzvahs. I went to the synagogue and listened to the mystical Hebrew prayers chanted. And I was confirmed in the Presbyterian Church at 14. And the town put up Christmas AND Jewish decorations….no troubles ever.
    So, not a heathen, but no longer a member of any named religion. And we ARE the majority category now…..

    But what bothers me is that MS implements conservative policies that reflect one particular denomination or segment. Abstinence-only in sex ed in some schools in MS is, in the face of reality, claptrap. Mississippi has the highest rate of pregnant teens, highest in some STDs. Those results come out of ignorance or shame, not information and education. I am all for a vast array of opinions on contraception or how the world was created or not. But equipping our children with a deep faith and not giving them the information to make smart choices and avoid the pitfalls, means we fail them.
    A prayer is not minded by most of us, but remember that we have chosen to walk a different path. And we do NOT want to be preached to, or proselytized at our front door, or told to “have a blessed day”. Every single day I am grateful to be here. Thanks but I don’t need your blessing.

    So, I will continue to try to respect your religion, even in places I think are not appropriate. Do the rest of us a favor, though, please educate children with facts, not fantasy in our public schools.

  3. Doug, you should recall that the purpose of such suits, such as done by advocacy groups (the Soviet Poverty Law Center comes to mind), is merely to shake down attorney fees and gin up the supporters with threats of theocratic excess (notwithstanding the leading religion today is the Church of State.)
    Using such cases as a sperrbrecher for societal change is often just icing on the cake.

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