"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Astonishing Court Decision

This case has got to make the short list of the most amazingly poor judicial decisions in American history. Surely the Supreme Court will overturn this one. An Appeals Court has held that it is permissible for a school district to permit the display of a Menorah (Jewish) and Star and Crescent (Islamic) on a public school campus but ban the display of a Nativity Scene! This is beyond belief. Hat tip to the Shrine.


Blogger Father Nelson said...

But, what does the lawyer in you say, sir?

Should there be a free-for-all policy, allowing all holyday expressions? Or should the policy be that "none shall pass?"

11:51 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Well, you have put your finger on the reason this decision is astonising, Father. It falls between the two stools. For most of the last thirty years, the SC has taken a "let a thousand flowers bloom" attitude--meaning that if you allow ANY religous expression on public terrain, you must allow essentially ALL religous expression there. If you have a Nativity scene, you must allow a menorah or a Wiccan symbol of some kind, if someone shows up wanting to install one.

Here the school board obviously made a purely political decision that honoring Islam and Judaism was fine, but honoring the birth of the Redeemer (in the eyes of Chirstians) was going "too far." Therefore the school board declared, for no sensible reason at all, that the menorah and the star and crescent were not "religious symbols" but the Nativity scene is! This is obviously balderdash, but the court for some reason let that school board decision stand. I fear the reason is the old canard that the "majority" can look after itself with its own space and money (and hence must be kept out of the public square), but "minority" views deserve the active promotion of the government to "level the playing field." Astonishing.

Personally I am confident that the "free exercise" clause was meant by the framers of the Bill of Rights to insure that no single Christian denomination was given Federal government sponsorship over the others (remember, almost all the states originally had "state churches). The present line of Church/state case law clearly does not fit the intent of the framers, but we are unfortunately stuck with it now due to stare decisis. In light of that fact, I say stick with the "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach consistently and do not discrimate against Christianity alone.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

Holy. Cow.
I'd be willing to bet there's a lot of Jews and Muslims who'd be offended if they were informed that the Crescent and the Mennorah are 'secular'.
This is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.
The only solution? No displays.
Otherwise, the Satanists will show up with a pentagram and the Wiccans will show up with God-knows-what.
Children don't 'need' to decorate with a Menorrah or a Nativity or anything else at school, any more than they 'need' to put up maple leaves to celebrate autumn.
These kinds of displays should be kept at parochial schools to avoid the insanity of having to cover the school grounds in garbage from every 'religion', including Scientology (a plastic UFO, perhaps?) and Aztec Sun-Worship. (A plastic sacrificed virgin, maybe?)
I love Jesus as much as the next guy, but the most important creche to put on display is the one in my heart.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to read the decision but my Reader program failed. What possible legal rationale could there be for this decision? Am I correct that the School District approves ONLY menorahs and crescents, leaving Christians, Wiccans, etc. out?


2:38 PM  

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