Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Pigs in Delaware

Why is it so difficult for me
to restrain myself from calling these people

A large Delaware school district promoted Christianity so aggressively that a Jewish family felt it necessary to move to Wilmington, two hours away, because they feared retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The religion (if any) of a second family in the lawsuit is not known, because they're suing as Jane and John Doe; they also fear retaliation. Both families are asking relief from "state-sponsored religion."

Among numerous specific examples in the complaint was what happened at plaintiff Samantha Dobrich's graduation in 2004 from the district's high school. She was the only Jewish student in her graduating class. The complaint relates that local pastor, Jerry Fike, in his invocation, followed requests for "our heavenly Father's" guidance for the graduates with:

I also pray for one specific student, that You be with her and guide her in the path that You have for her. And we ask all these things in Jesus' name.

In addition to the ruined graduation experience, the Dobrich-Doe lawsuit alleges that:
  • The district's "custom and practice of school-sponsored prayer" frequently imposed ... on impressionable non-Christian students," violating their constitutional rights.
  • The district ignored the Supreme Court's 1992 Lee decision limiting prayer at graduation ceremonies -- even after a district employee complained about the prayer at her child's 2003 graduation.
  • District teachers and staff led Bible clubs at several schools. Club members got to go to the head of the lunch line.
  • While Bible clubs were widely available, student book clubs were rare and often canceled by the district.
  • When Jane Doe complained that her non-Christian son "Jordan Doe" was left alone when his classmates when to Bible club meetings, district staff insisted that Jordan should attend the club regardless of his religion.
  • The district schools attended by Jordan and his sister "Jamie Doe" distributed Bibles to students in 2003, giving them time off from class to pick up the books.
  • Prayer --often sectarian -- is a routine part of district sports programs and social events
  • One of the district's middle schools gave students the choice of attending a special Bible Club if they did not want to attend the lesson on evolution.
  • A middle school teacher told students there was only "one true religion" and gave them pamphlets for his surfing ministry.
  • Samantha Dobrich's honors English teacher frequently discussed Christianity, but no other religion.
  • Students frequently made mandatory appearances at district board meetings -- where they were a captive audience for board members' prayers to Jesus.


A good example of why the State and the church need to be kept far apart.

And lest anyone forget, and as if it matters,
our founding fathers were not Christians.


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