Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Religion, Warthogs and Republicans...

From LOLCATS, this comic reminded me of this hapless incident I wrote about a couple of months ago. (You can click to enlarge.)


As far as I know, this has not been reported locally. I'm very glad that we have the internet to inform us of the unpopular news stories. From the Freedom From Religion Foundation:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit May 30 in U.S. District Court in Columbia, S.C., against School District 5 of Lexington and Richland Counties over a district policy that sanctions graduation prayer. Matthew “Max” Nielson, 18, who graduated May 30 from Irmo High School, was named as principal plaintiff.

Nielson has received a $1,000 Catherine Fahringer Memorial Student Activist Award from FFRF and will speak at FFRF’s 35th annual convention in Portland, Oregon, October 12-14.

On June 11, FFRF filed an amended complaint adding two new plaintiffs, Jacob Zupon and Dakota McMillan. They will graduate respectively from Irmo High School in 2013 and 2014, keeping the lawsuit ripe. Zupon and McMillan “reasonably anticipate constitutional injury” similar to Nielson’s, due to prayer at their upcoming graduations. All students describe themselves as “religiously unaffiliated,” meaning “they subscribe to no particular organized, institutionalized religion, nor other prescribed set of beliefs.”

A district policy titled “School Ceremonies and Observations” sets guidelines for benedictions and invocations at graduations and athletic events: Use of prayer “will be determined by a majority vote of the graduating senior class with the advice and counsel of the principal.”

Nielson was forced during his senior year to participate in a “vote” by graduating seniors on whether to pray at their 2012 graduation. That vote was organized, distributed and tallied by teachers and other staff. He met with Principal Rob Weinkle and Superintendent Steve Hefner to express his concerns. FFRF formally objected, but the district refused to remove the scheduled prayer. FFRF filed suit on the day of the graduation.
This kind of thing is very common even in public schools here in the Bible belt. Also common: impromptu public prayers given on the spot--usually before standardized tests, sports and field trips. Whoever chooses not to participate in these prayers, is often considered rebellious and/or a troublemaker, simply by fiat.

My daughter also had Bob Jones University students as student teachers in her public high school, believe it or not. (BJU is unaccredited.) In addition, due to budget cuts and lack of space, her school also had instrumental music concerts/recitals in various local churches that were kind enough to volunteer space. Thus, parents and families who wanted to attend their children's recitals were forced to go the churches.

Aside: The aformentioned BJU student teacher (a music teacher), addressed the audience of parents at one such local music recital and informed us he was thankful to his Lord and Savior. This aggravated me, since I went to hear the kids perform, not to listen to a sermon. However, at the time, I did not want to make an issue of these things and put my daughter in a precarious social position.

Therefore, I am pleased these students and FFRF are finally challenging this stuff. Maybe this will make them think twice.
The prayer at the graduation, written by the district but delivered by a student “volunteer,” was addressed to “Father.” The prayer asked for the “Lord’s guidance, protection and mercy,” asked students to be “touched” by “the Lord,” to be led “on the path you intend for their lives to lead,” and thanked a deity for “the teachers, parents and administrators that were here through our 12 years of school.”
... and if this is not your faith, well, they really don't care what you think.


At left: My daughter took this adorable photo of a warthog mama and baby at the San Antonio Zoo. DEAD FROM CUTENESS!!!

Speaking of warthogs (and how many of you caught that segue?), REST IN PEACE Ron Palillo!


Other links of note:

Lisa Marie Presley Says "So Long" to Scientology (Village Voice)

POLITICO e-book: Obama campaign roiled by conflict (Politico)

The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace Paul Ryan's Cruelty (AlterNet)

Raising the Ritalin Generation (New York Times)

IN CELEBRATION: Thankful for the Life of Phyllis Diller (GendErratic)

The bizarre, unhealthy, blinding media contempt for Julian Assange (UK Guardian)

Americans ignore the war in Afghanistan, despite 2,000 US casualties (

Prayers At Republican National Convention Expected From Cardinal Timothy Dolan And Prominent Mormon Friend Of Mitt Romney (Huffington Post)

Limited Convention Broadcasts Shut Out Ann Romney (New York Times)

And on that happy note (tee hee), we wish you a happy Wednesday evening... don't forget, local peeps, "The Feel-good, Fabulous, Four Hour, Fun-Filled, Festival-like thing we refer to as Dead Air!" (namesake of this blog) is on WNCW-FM tonight, as we speak.

Only a dullard could resist!


JoJo said...

SQUEEEE on the baby and mama warthoggies!!!

I went to a public high school and there was never a question about one of the local ministers saying a few words. It never occurred to anyone to complain.

Mama Moretti said...

I luuuv the comic!

jellybeansouth said...

If I didn't know any better, I would think that your daughter was in my class! We had a student teacher from BJU in our chorus class, and frequently performed at Eastlan Baptist Church.