A southwest Virginia school district [Giles County] is reposting copies of the Bible's Ten Commandments in all county schools, despite concerns that doing so is unconstitutional. .... The decision came even though the board's attorney had previously advised that such Christian displays represent unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. - ZINIE CHEN SAMPSON, Associated Press
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LA School Board Approves Posting of Texts from Upanishad, Qur'an, Tao Te Ching, The Analects of Confucius, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Book of Mormon, The Divine Principle, Zend Avesta, Kojiki, Dianetics, and Zhuan Falun
LOS ANGELES, Ca (MP) - This Californian school district is posting texts from the Upanishad, the Qur’an, the Tao Te Ching, the Analects of Confucius, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Book of Mormon, The Divine Principle, Zend Avesta, Kojiki, Dianetics, and Zhuan Falun in all classrooms in the district, despite objections that doing so violates the Constitution.
The seven-member Los Angeles School Board voted unanimously to post the framed three-foot-wide-by-four-foot-tall texts after parents and local ministers, rabbis, gurus, monks, healers, teachers, elders, and other religious leaders demanded space equal to that of Christians, who recently pressured the board to hang copies of the Ten Commandments in the district’s classrooms.
Monday night’s board meeting was packed with supporters from the various faiths, who sat in separate sections to avoid contamination and reduce the chance of violence. Speakers from each faith rose to shout over the objections of the others, telling the board that the schools had a moral obligation to reinforce God’s/Allah’s/the Supreme Being’s/Vishna’s/the Tao’s/Mohammed’s/Confucius’s/et cetera’s teachings.
“After hearing from these members of our community,” said perspiring Superintendent Donald Madison, “we just felt this was the right thing to do. It will take us a while to get copies of all the texts printed and framed, but we think we can have them in the classrooms by mid-April, at the latest.”
Madison noted that other faith traditions, not represented at last night’s meeting, might also demand to be included. Preliminary research by a reporter for the Herald indicates that while the precise number of religions in the world cannot be determined, the best estimates range from four thousand upward.
Harried teachers said after the meeting that they were concerned about whether there was space to incorporate that much moral obligation in their classrooms. “Right now we’re looking at a hundred and ninety eight square feet of wall space devoted to religious texts, with more likely” worried Aakifah Ali, who teaches geography at Jefferson Middle School. “I don’t have space now for everything I’d like to display. I’ll have to take down my maps, posters, material on current events, and student papers. Even then I’m not sure all the religious texts will fit. Maybe they can mount them on the ceiling,” she joked.
One segment of the audience which left dissatisfied was a sizable contingent of secularists/non-religious parents. Daniel Brinkman, spokesperson for the group, had risen to point out that one in six Americans have opted out of organized religion and consider themselves non-believers. He asked about having one-sixth of available space allotted for his group to post their absence of belief, but was rebuffed by Madison, who said that the blank, transparent windows in the room already fulfilled that function.
Christians, who had earlier succeeded in having the Ten Commandments posted in classrooms, were furious at news that they would have to share wall space with groups they regard as heathens. “It’s blasphemy, pure and simple,” asserted Rev. Randall Snodgrass, a leader of the group who had previously won the right to insert their religious text into the classroom.
When reminded that he had earlier argued that the Ten Commandments belonged there because of their historical rather their religious value, and that each of the subsequent groups had argued for inclusion of their texts on the same grounds, he had to be restrained by security personnel. “That was just a legal maneuver cooked up by our lawyers to get our faith in the schools where it belongs. This farce tonight is all the work of the ACLU, the ADA, the Democratic Party, and other hate groups!” he yelled as he was being escorted out by half a dozen guards.
Constitutional scholars, almost unanimously, expect the courts to reverse the board’s actions. Taxpayers will foot the bill for all legal expenses incurred.
© Tony Russell, 2011