Thursday, July 1, 2010

School District Celebrates Religious Freedom Day: By Banning Bibles

America, land of the free and home of the brave, right?

Maybe. In some places, and at some times.

In government schools? Not so much.
"Florida school district bans Bibles on Religious Freedom Day"
The Religion World, an Orlando Sentinel Blog (July, 1 2010)

"Maitland-based Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit Thursday to overturn a ban on Bible distribution on public school campuses in Collier County. According to the Liberty Counsel, the Collier County School Board allowed World Changers to distribute free Bibles to students during off-school hours on Religious Freedom Day, but now the school officials claim that Bibles do not provide any educational benefit to the students and the distribution should stop.

"The Collier County School District policy specifically allows the distribution of literature by nonprofit organizations, but only with the approval of the superintendent and the Community Request Committee, whose members are appointed by the superintendent. Approval was denied to World Changers, despite the fact that its distribution included a disclaimer of any school endorsement or sponsorship and that receiving a Bible was purely voluntary...."
Two things deserve special attention:

Assumptions About 'Authoritarian Male-Dominated Christianity' and the Bible

I've heard a 'Bible-believing Christian' declare that David, king of Israel, was a good Christian. (June 19, 2010)

Other folks seem to get their knowledge of Christianity largely from politically correct textbooks and the weird side of America's church culture. Perhaps understandably. They apparently have the idea that religion in general - and Christianity in particular - is either a psychiatric disorder, a scam, or maybe both.

Someone who never read books in the Bible other than carefully-selected verses of, say, Ephesians and and Judges, might get the idea that the Bible wasn't very nice at all. Certainly not something that should matter.
" officials claim that Bibles do not provide any educational benefit to the students and the distribution should stop...."
(The Religion World)
I was doing time in American academia in the eighties, when political correctness was in bloom: so I think I understand the idea that the Bible does "not provide any educational benefit to the students...." The Bible, according to the 'right' sort of people here in America, is just simply full of superstition and ignorance and was written by male chauvinist pigs and is oppressive and pretty much icky all over.

Certainly not the sort of thing you want impressionable young children exposed to. In the case of The Song of Songs, the 'no Bible' bunch might have a point. But I'm getting off-topic.

'Separation of Church and State,' State-Sponsored Religions, and Freedom From Religion

Doesn't the separation of church and state mean that Bibles have to be kept out of government schools? Depends on who you listen to.

America's dominant culture seems fairly united around the idea that 'separation of church and state' is supposed to mean that Americans mustn't mention Christianity in schools. We're also supposed to leave religion out of criticism of government programs they like.

Actually, America's 'better sort' regard religion the way decent Victorian ladies presumably viewed sex: It's something disgusting that must be ignored by proper people. And certainly never mentioned in public.
I'm Not Politically Correct - I Can Live With That
Other folks, including myself, think that the separation of church and state is supposed to be a barrier to establishing a state religion. ("On the Duties of Catholic Politicians and Voters," Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs (May 1, 2004), via EWTN)

But many of the folks who say that this view of 'separation' is correct are Catholics: and we're not held in particularly high esteem in some circles.
A State-Sponsored Religion? Thanks, But No Thanks
Still, I suppose we don't want government schools in the position of looking like they endorse a religion. Particularly, in my case, because of who would probably be deciding which religion was being pushed.

The folks who were threatening to expose kids to Bibles had the problem of endorsement covered:
"...distribution included a disclaimer of any school endorsement or sponsorship and that receiving a Bible was purely voluntary...."
(The Religion World)
That, however, wasn't good enough: so the school district banned the distribution of Bibles.

Looks like kids in one Florida school district have what so many in this country have yearned for: freedom from religion.

Home Schooling and Me

If you read the papers, you may get the impression that people who home school their children are ignorant, superstitious, and living examples of why first cousins should not marry. Maybe some folks who take responsibility for their children's education are like that. The ones I know aren't. Including me.

My wife and I are in the process of seeing our fourth child through junior high and high school, being home schooled. He goes to the government school for band, but that's about it. I've written about home schooling before. (May 20, 2010, March 6, 2010, for starters)

Part of the reason I gave my kids the choice to get instruction at home, starting with 7th grade, is my own background. I'm a recovering English teacher. And that's yet another topic.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.