I’ve received a couple of self-important emails from the ADF on the subject of the annual gathering called “See You at the Pole” (SYATP). This event happens on the fourth Wednesday of September, every year. During this event students will gather at their school flagpole before the start of class in order to hold hands, pray together, and maybe read some scripture and sing a hymn. It is supposed to be a student initiated and student led gathering.
So the ADF’s alert points out a very formal ADF legal memo about this event, and also references an ACLJ memo about this. The alert, and the memos, seem to imply that this student right was a hard won victory by the Christian forces of good.
Of course, they don’t mention that the ACLU also approves of SYATP.
And you know what? I also approve of “See You at the Pole”. Students have the right to pray, or sing, or read the Bible (silently or aloud). They can pray before tests and before their cafeteria meals. They can let their friends borrow their Bibles, or they can give them as gifts.
What the students can not do is disrupt class, or create a hostile environment for other students.
And what a school can not do is to show preference to one type of student over another. By “establishing” a preferred religion, a public school would be acting against the American Constitution, and in doing so would give a clear message that those students of one faith are “better” than students of different faiths, or without faith. Regardless of Constitutionality, this is clearly immoral.
So, I’ve got an offer to all of you good Christians who are cheering about this religious “Victory” in public schools:
I will happily help you pass out Bibles to any student who wants one.
I’ll add a couple of caveats.
- I won’t help you pass out Bibles on a public school campus or property. That is a clear breech of the Establishment Clause, and it indicates school-sanctioned favoritism toward one religion over others.
- I won’t force, coerce or bribe any student to take a Bible. I realize that the Bible isn’t for everyone, and urging it upon some people would be insulting.
So – how about it? Wouldn’t this be a public relations coup? “President of Local Atheist Organization helps pass out Bibles to Schoolchildren!” Pastors, you could make this sound like a win over Satan himself during your Sunday sermon!
And yes, I’m being a bit glib here – but I’m also very serious. And I’ll remind any pastor in the Fresno and Clovis area – if you preach that Atheists are trying to keep religion out of school, I’ll call you on it. I’ll do more than that – I’ll help you make sure that any public school student has the right to his religion in school.