Zach's rules - Religious expression or religious coercion?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Zach's Rules



We all know that many interpret the first amendment to show that the government cannot endorse religion or show a preference for things religious. However there is a new battleground and that is personal religious expression. There are new federal guidelines as part of the no child left behind act that attempt to clarify how schools should not impede a child or young adult's personal religious expression. They were named Zach's rules after the following incident...



Quote:

In 1996, Zachary drew a picture of Jesus on a poster and wrote "Thankful for Jesus" for a kindergarten class Thanksgiving assignment. His school in Medford, N.J., took it down from a hallway display.



A year later, he chose his favorite Bible story from his beginner's Bible to read out loud in class, but school officials wouldn't let him read it.



"They all made it feel like religion was a bad thing," Zachary told Fox News.



"Discriminating against religion is very un-American and very wrong," said Zach's mom, Carol Hood.



While Zach is obviously religious, can the state prevent his expression of that religion within his own realm of rights? In otherwords the example given here end at well before your nose. (I've heard a common expression often expressed as you can express your right to wave your arm as long as it ends before my nose)



Zach in the first example expressed his religion within a regular class assignment that was displayed along with all other classwork. In the second example each child had been asked to bring a short story/book from home to share and Zack brought his beginners bible from which he wanted to share a story.



What constitutes religious freedom and religious hostility? It is obvious that some folks are just anti-religious and seek to end all religious speech while it is also obvious that some folks are seeking to convert while claiming it is just speech. In this age of t-shirt activism, if you wear a shirt with a pot leaf, and I wear a shirt with a cross, am I creating a hostile environment in a school or public setting?



What do you think?



Nick
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 84
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    Freedom of religion is not freedom from religion. Those who are too easily offended deserve it.
  • Reply 2 of 84
    aquafireaquafire Posts: 2,758member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Matsu

    Freedom of religion is not freedom from religion. Those who are too easily offended deserve it.







    Jingle..." And so say all of us..& so say all of us, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow "
  • Reply 3 of 84
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    huh?
  • Reply 4 of 84
    enaena Posts: 667member
    Americans believe that in society neutrality is possible for policymakers. Everything we know from history tells us that is not the case. The state can't hold all "religions" equal, in practice, they will have to sanction one and censure the others.



    If humanism, or pluralism informed by atheism, is the current thought-world of the State, then it will deny the expression of Christianity when it can.
  • Reply 5 of 84
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ena

    Americans believe that in society neutrality is possible for policymakers. Everything we know from history tells us that is not the case. The state can't hold all "religions" equal, in practice, they will have to sanction one and censure the others.



    If humanism, or pluralism informed by atheism, is the current thought-world of the State, then it will deny the expression of Christianity when it can.




    Or perhaps reading the bible to impressionable kindergarten kids isn't fair to the parents who want to raise their kids without such influences. No one says Zach can't read and enjoy the bible. Just read it on your own time and not to the class during class hours.
  • Reply 6 of 84
    enaena Posts: 667member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BR

    Or perhaps reading the bible to impressionable kindergarten kids isn't fair to the parents who want to raise their kids without such influences. No one says Zach can't read and enjoy the bible. Just read it on your own time and not to the class during class hours.



    That's seemingly innocuous, but the principle of censure is still there. I don't think it's avoidable. Christianity is offensive to some and it's censure is offensive to some, the State has made the choice on the side of those offended by Christianity.
  • Reply 7 of 84
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ena

    That's seemingly innocuous, but the principle of censure is still there. I don't think it's avoidable. Christianity is offensive to some and it's censure is offensive to some, the State has made the choice on the side of those offended by Christianity.



    No, it's made the choice that people can't use public school class time to read the bible to young impressionable kids. No one says he can't believe in Jesus.
  • Reply 8 of 84
    enaena Posts: 667member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BR

    No, it's made the choice that people can't use public school class time to read the bible to young impressionable kids. No one says he can't believe in Jesus.



    Belief is practice of it---when it conflicts with what the State needs, that practice is denied. They forbid certain other books to be read in schools as well, certain fairy tales that are not PC, for instance.



    The school is a teaching institution. In this case it is teaching that Christianity has no place in public life, just as the "sexist" fairy tales do not project the State approved thought-world.
  • Reply 9 of 84
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ena

    Belief is practice of it---when it conflicts with what the State needs, that practice is denied. They forbid certain other books to be read in schools as well, certain fairy tales that are not PC, for instance.



    The school is a teaching institution. In this case it is teaching that Christianity has no place in public life.




    Wrong. I have no problem with the bible being taught to high school students in an English class (which does happen). I do have a problem with the bible being read to impressionable 5 year olds. It's a matter of context that you seem to be overlooking.
  • Reply 10 of 84
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,789member
    Quote:

    Or perhaps reading the bible to impressionable kindergarten kids isn't fair to the parents who want to raise their kids without such influences. No one says Zach can't read and enjoy the bible. Just read it on your own time and not to the class during class hours.



    BR,



    Up here in Canada, there's was a court case where religious parents who wanted to restrict local schools from using materials that teach about gay lifestyles to kindergarten kids.



    Would your position mean that the parents have that right if they prefer to raise their kids "without such influences?"
  • Reply 11 of 84
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    There's an underlying story here that I think is interesting. The Bush admin. has issued a "guidance" to schools supposedly explaining what types of religious activity is and is not constitutional.



    In that guidance they make a number of highly questionable claims.



    About graduation:
    Quote:

    Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, however, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.



    I don't think so. The Supreme Court has struck down school policies allowing students to initiate prayer at graduatios and sports events, because it wasn't really private expression, it was public expression at a government event.



    About the Zach case:

    Quote:

    Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.



    That is just not true. There is no right of kindergartners to engage in religious expression in a classroom. Teachers are responsible for what goes on in the class, not students.



    Finally, the guidance says this (LEAs are local educational agencies):
    Quote:

    The Secretary considers an LEA to have filed a certification in bad faith if the LEA files the certification even though it has a policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools as set forth in this guidance.



    The General Education Provisions Act ("GEPA") authorizes the Secretary to bring enforcement actions against recipients of Federal education funds that are not in compliance with the law. Such measures may include withholding funds until the recipient comes into compliance.



    OK, here's some news: The Bush admin. doesn't decide on the constitutionality of religious expression in schools. The courts do. In my view, schools are being required to violate the Constitution in order to receive federal funding. \
  • Reply 12 of 84
    enaena Posts: 667member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BR

    Wrong. I have no problem with the bible being taught to high school students in an English class (which does happen). I do have a problem with the bible being read to impressionable 5 year olds. It's a matter of context that you seem to be overlooking.





    The context is exactly the point, I can't believe the bible is taught in high schools, but if it were, the "branch has already been bent" pedagogically.
  • Reply 13 of 84
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Frank777

    BR,



    Up here in Canada, there's was a court case where religious parents who wanted to restrict local schools from using materials that teach about gay lifestyles to kindergarten kids.



    Would your position mean that the parents have that right if they prefer to raise their kids "without such influences?"




    I don't see the need to teach 5 year olds about homosexuals.
  • Reply 14 of 84
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ena

    The context is exactly the point, I can't believe the bible is taught in high schools, but if it were, the "branch has already been bent" pedagogically.



    The bible is a piece of literature. It is no doubtedly an important piece of literature regardless if it holds any truth or not. That is how it is taught in high schools. It is a work of literature which is referenced through many allusions in many other pieces of literature. For that reason and that reason alone it is worth studying in high school.



    There is a big difference between that and some stupid kid named Zach yapping about how he loves Jesus because his parents told him to in front of a class of 5 year olds.
  • Reply 15 of 84
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,789member
    Tonton: I don't know where all that anger's coming from, but this thread was doing well without it. "Sitting down and shutting up" might not be a bad idea for you right now.



    And about the issue of other religions: I think the idea is that rights should be extended in the opoosite direction i.e. to allow non-Christian students to express their religous beliefs as well. Not to take away that right from everybody.



    Remember this is expression we're talking about, Poor Zach wasn't trying to convert his entire classroom.
  • Reply 16 of 84
    thttht Posts: 3,209member
    Well it depends on Zach's speech does it not. If the boy is on his soapbox while giving an oral report or reading the bible, then I don't think the teacher should allow him to do so. If it's an innocuous reading exercise, no problem. Same goes for the drawing.



    BRussell, don't worry about it Bush's policy to force schools to go against the Constitution, the administration is also in the process of changing the Courts, so all will be legal in the end.
  • Reply 17 of 84
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by THT

    BRussell, don't worry about it Bush's policy to force schools to go against the Constitution, the administration is also in the process of changing the Courts, so all will be legal in the end.



    Ah, yes, it's all coming together for me.



    About this Zach -

    1. Sounds like Zach was mommy and daddy's mealticket. I wonder how much money they were asking for, and how much they got.

    2. I'm sick of every law and regulation being named after some kid. Megan's law, Amber alert, and now Zach's rules. What's next, Billy's capital gains tax cut?
  • Reply 18 of 84
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    If the secular ideal is a forum of ideas, then religious ideas should get equal time. It is clear to me, that a level of blatant anti-christianity, a form of censure and discrimination is taking place. I think students should be free to initiate prayer, meditation and to read and interpret their holy books in a forum of ideas. All students, all religions. We would not be poorer for it. What educators and education administrators are telling us when they do not allow this exchange of ideas is that they have no concept of being able to manage it in a fair way and so they would rather not, period.



    If they could achieve even that much, though, it would be progress, but they don't, they swing with the tides of political correctness. The contest of ideas still takes place and does not hide itself very well behind legality or constitutionality (in the US). Campaigns for certain ideas are more successful than others, and that is a situation that has nothing to do with the merits of the idea. How many schools suddenly felt the need to initiate education about Islam? Bring in speakers, encourage students of that particular faith to demonstrate and explain, in essence, to teach, their religion and culture?



    Knowledge and expression are not practice. The room you make for the one religion, you can make for all.



    The problem, as always, and Christians are as much to blame for this, s that people are stupid and fearful, and quickly ruin attempts to give everyone equal time.



    Still, we shouldn't celebrate just because a Christian is getting short shrift.
  • Reply 19 of 84
    newnew Posts: 3,244member
    hmm... I really think Sikhs should be allowed to grow their beard. \
  • Reply 20 of 84
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BR

    No, it's made the choice that people can't use public school class time to read the bible to young impressionable kids. No one says he can't believe in Jesus.



    Yes, but if they ask a child, what are you thankful for, ahd the child says Jesus, they should NOT tell him he cant do that.. that is bs, weather Christian, Muslim, atheist, whatever, I can understand the school not teaching religion, but this is a pile of shit. if the kid said "I am thankful for Santa Clause" I bet the school would have no problem would they?
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