Thursday, October 20, 2011

Here We Go Again! 9th Circuit Outlaws Banners Mentioning "God"

The 9th Circuit strikes again!

The same three judge panel that decided that "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional is at it again. This time, they have reversed a lower court ruling that allowed Bradley Johnson to display patriotic banners in his San Diego classroom because they mention "God."

I wrote about this controversy in a post called "Finally, A Judge with Sense in California!", in which I celebrated the lower court ruling that enabled the banners to remain. If you are unfamiliar with this controversy, you may wish to review that post from 2008.

2008. Seriously?

So, three years ago, I wrote that Bradley Johnson had been displaying his banners for 25 years. That means it has been 28 years now, and they still have not had any significant complaints, except maybe from Michael Newdow, or some other professional malcontent who lives to see the mention of God eradicated from the public square.

Bradley Johnson is a respected math teacher in the Poway Unified School District - in California, where else? They actually told him to take down his banner in 2007, all the while leaving intact other banners and posters displayed in other classrooms containing photos of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Prayer Flags, anti-religious song lyrics, and gay and lesbian promotional materials. Whatever your opinion of any of these materials, I guarantee you that they are every bit as offensive to some segments of the population as the mention of "God" in the context of American history.

One phrase, "One Nation Under God" is from the Pledge of Allegiance - the same Pledge that the 9th Circuit judges got their panties in a twist about in 2002. "In God We Trust" is on our money - though in recent years it has been banished to the edges of some coins. "God Shed His Grace on Thee" and "God Bless America" are familiar lyrics from patriotic songs that Americans have been singing for generations.

Here is a photo of the evil banner in question:

Photo Credit: Thomas More Law Center
Here is how it looks in the classroom, where at least half the students have their backs toward it.

The Thomas More Law Center is once again defending Johnson, and in September, announced its intent to petition for an "en banc" review of the decision, which will require the entire voting membership of the 9th Circuit to decide whether the petition should be granted.  If the petition is granted they will have to go before a panel of 11 judges who will be selected from among the voting members.

As I mentioned in my earlier article, this is not specifically about homeschooling, but it certainly continues to underscore the hostility to anything that might be - even erroneously - construed as a religious message. Here are a couple of quotes from the decision, written by appeals court Judge Richard Tallman.
“We consider whether a public school district infringes the First Amendment liberties of one of its teachers when it orders him not to use his public position as a pulpit from which to preach his own views on the role of God in our Nation’s history to the captive students in his mathematics classroom. The answer is clear: it does not.” 
“Though Johnson maintains that his banners express purely patriotic sentiments … it seems as plain to us as it was to school officials that Johnson’s banners concern religion."
“One would need to be remarkably unperceptive to see the statements …. as organized and displayed by Johnson and not understand them to convey a religious message.” 
But it was okay for other teachers to display the Tibetan prayer flags, or lyrics to "Imagine" to captive students in their [insert name of class here] class.

Puhleeze. This is the same court that ruled in 2005 that adopting Muslim names, reciting Muslim prayers, and simulating religious fasting for three weeks was a perfectly acceptable classroom activity, not “overt religious exercises” that would raise concerns under the First Amendment prohibition of “establishment of religion.”

Never mind that these exercises were conducted in the fall of 2001. Am I the only one who gets sick to my stomach when I think about that?

Can you imagine the weeping and gnashing of teeth if students were subjected to some Christian themed role playing for three weeks? 

During Ramadan?

I know not everyone homeschools for religious reasons, but rulings like these confirm that those who do are not merely imagining that their worldview is under attack.  It is part of the same phenomenon that caused school officials in Michigan to think it was okayto hold a terrorism drill that depicted Christian homeschoolers as theterrorists. In 2007, Burlington County, NJ school officials held a mock drill that included gun-toting Christian extremists who were upset because the daughter of one of them was expelled for praying in school. Superintendent Chris Manno told the Burlington County Times:
We need to practice under conditions as real as possible in order to evaluate our procedures and plans so that they're as effective as possible.
This isn't MY reality.

I know, I know. This isn't happening in YOUR public school.  First of all, how do you know? And second, when it is, will you do anything about it? Whether you are a Christian or not, it should matter to you that  someone's freedom is being curtailed because of what they believe. Next time it could be some value or belief YOU cherish.

1 comment:

  1. Religion is prohibited in the public square only when it's the Christian religion. I don't know how our nation has come so far...very sad.