A first-grade student in North Carolina wrote a Veterans Day poem honoring her grandfather, a Vietnam veteran. She had been selected to read the poem at a November 8 Veterans Day ceremony. One of the lines was, “He prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength.”
This is, of course, offensive, abusive and absurd. If the man prayed to God, and his granddaughter was writing about him, then there could be nothing objectionable about her accurately stating the facts of his life. Of course, the school was taking pre-emptive action to avert the kind of expensive and time-consuming controversy aggressive atheist groups stir up to further their anti-religion agenda, and its judgment seems to be validated by First Amendment Center president and CEO Ken Paulson, who told CBS News that the school was legally obligated to delete the reference to God, because public schools cannot sanction religious messages in captive environments like classrooms or assemblies. Then again, his is position is utter, extremist nonsense. If the child stated in a poem that her grandfather ate a neighbor a day, the school could not be accused of “sanctioning cannibalism.” If she said her grandfather was a Republican, or a vegan, or a pacifist, that wouldn’t be an endorsement by the school or the state of these things. This was a child’s poem, and like a child’s essay or anything else a student authors, the sentiment expressed is the child’s, not the school’s or the government’s. Furthermore, she was stating a fact, and stating a fact is not proselytizing or in any way “establishing” a state religion. Indeed, there was nothing in her poem to suggest that she believed in God, or worshiped as her grandfather did, Censoring a creative expression by anyone, especially a child, does tangible harm—to her, to her artistic creation, and to every student. Moreover, the clear message of censoring a benign reference to a man’s genuine religious practices as related by his grandchild is an anti-religious one, which is just as constitutionally objectionable state action as conduct promoting religion.
And it wrecked a little girl’s poem.
Thus I stipulate that the result here was unequivocally wrongful, harmful, and contrary to both logic and fairness. Your Ethics Quiz is, therefore, this:
Who is the responsible party?
- The relentless, over-reaching anti-religious bullies, who have shown themselves willing to terrorize communities, schools and institutions over such trivial activities in “support of religion” as the singing of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
- Cowardly and conflict-averse school administrators, who would prefer to mistreat an innocent 6 year-old than stand up to irrational zealots.
- The courts, which have allowed legitimate restrictions on religious endorsement by local and state governments to be distorted into grotesque and irrational persecutions of harmless and innocent conduct.
- The student, for daring to mention that her grandfather had the audacity to pray in this enlightened age.
- Or nobody. The result is the correct one. The intent of the Constitution was to prevent any reference to religion whatsoever in a government-funded activity, be it in a narrative, a work of art, a speech, a ceremony, a lesson, or anything else, because as we all know, to mention something is to endorse it.
Source: Daily Caller
Graphic: Education News
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at email@example.com.