In Reuters, journalist Katherine Stewart gives her thoughts regarding the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) recently filed lawsuit against New Heights Middle School for proselytizing students, and the larger trends of “peer” and “pizza” evangelism:
In fact, the school board voted to settle a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in which Jonathan Anderson, a parent whose son was harassed at the school for his non-belief, alleged that religion was all over the New Heights Middle School. School-sponsored prayers routinely opened and closed assemblies and performances. Religious messages made their way into lesson plans, and religious iconography decorated the walls. Students were punished for minor infractions by being told to write out sentences proclaiming their faith in God.
A number of these activities—such as the B-SHOC event—appear to be violations of the clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution intended to maintain separation between church and state. And the school board admits as much in its proposed settlement of the ACLU case. Yet an even greater number of religious activities in public schools have recently become legal as a result of novel interpretations of the Constitution handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ironically, had the administration of New Heights been a little smarter, it could have achieved its apparent goal of using the school’s position of authority to spread the word of God among its captive students without running the risk of being sued. Thousands of other schools across the country do just that.
Read more here.