around, the folks with the magnifying glasses are leaning on the
village of Tijeras, N.M., whose seal contains a conquistador's
helmet and sword, a scroll, a desert plant, a fairly large religious
symbol (the Native American zia) and a quite small Christian cross.
"Tiny cross" inspectors are not permitted to fret about
large non-Christian religious symbols, only undersized Christian
ones, so the ACLU filed suit to get the cross removed.
is obviously not an endorsement of religion, any more than the
conquistador helmet and sword are endorsements of Spanish warfare.
The courts have ruled, not always consistently, that crosses,
as historical references in such seals and logos, are permissible.
But the ACLU, these days, is strongly committed to seeing church-state
crises everywhere, and thus pushes things way too far.
the ACLU demanded that Los Angeles County eliminate from its seal
a microscopic cross representing the missions that settled the
state of California. Under threat of expensive litigation, the
county complied. The cross was about one-sixth the size of a not-very-big
image of a cow tucked away on the lower right segment of the seal,
and maybe a hundredth of the size of a pagan god (Pomona, goddess
of fruit) who dominated the seal. Pomona survived the religious
purge. She is not the sort of god that the ACLU worries about,
whereas the flyspeck-sized cross was a threat to unravel separation
of church and state, as we know it. What will happen if the ACLU
learns that Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Sacramento, San Francisco,
St. Louis and Corpus Christi actually have religious names? We
shudder to think.
to remove all traces of religion from public institutions, and
in fact from the entire public square, is now far advanced. Part
of that extremist campaign is to squelch private expression in
and around public schools. Students have been punished for reading
the Bible outside of class, for assembling after school to talk
about religion, for thanking God or Jesus in a valedictory speech,
and for bowing their heads (and therefore presumed to be praying
privately) before lunch.
common school crisis comes when a class is asked to write an essay
or draw a picture of someone they regard as a hero. Mao Tse-tung
or Vlad the Impaler will bring no rebuke, but if the hero is Jesus
or Moses, watch out.
the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York accepted the case
of Antonio Peck, who, as a kindergartner in 1999, had his drawing
censored from a class wall display because of church-state concerns.
Along with the rest of his class, Antonio was told to draw a picture
to illustrate his understanding of the environment. He drew a
man with upraised arms, wearing a robe. When asked, the boy said
the man was Jesus, who was "the only way to save the world."
The trial will decide whether the school was guilty of viewpoint
the Knox County board of education is being sued for refusing
to allow a 10-year-old to read his Bible during recess. The school
argued that recess is not free time and that the school can forbid
the reading of religious material during that period. The Phoenix-based
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which defends religious liberties
cases, supported the student.
intervened, a school in Torrance, Calif., backed down from its
decision not to allow a student on a dance team to perform to
religious music. ADF also defended students who had been forbidden
by their schools to participate in the national Sept. 21 "See
You at the Pole" prayer and religious event on school grounds.
ADF argued that religious expression cannot be treated differently
from any other constitutionally protected expression.
As if to
prove that church-state objections can be found on the right as
well as on the left, the band director at C.D. Hylton High School
in Virginia pulled the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"
by the Charlie Daniels Band after a conservative objected. He
wondered why the school should be allowed to sing about the devil
when they are not allowed to sing about God.
The ACLU sues to ban deviled eggs from the school cafeteria.