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Expelled — Separation of Church and State in Public Education, Selectively Enforced

Judge Jones ruled that rational and evidential challenges to Darwinian orthodoxy cannot be tolerated in public education because they violate the First Amendment. It now appears that using religious images in a high school art class assignment is unconstitutional, but only if those religious images are Christian.

A high school student has filed a lawsuit because he was “expelled” for drawing a cross and using a biblical reference in an art class assignment.

MADISON, Wis. — A Tomah High School student has filed a federal lawsuit alleging his art teacher censored his drawing because it featured a cross and a biblical reference.

The lawsuit alleges other students were allowed to draw “demonic” images and asks a judge to declare a class policy prohibiting religion in art unconstitutional.

“We hear so much today about tolerance,” said David Cortman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group representing the student. “But where is the tolerance for religious beliefs? The whole purpose of art is to reflect your own personal experience. To tell a student his religious beliefs can legally be censored sends the wrong message.”

Tomah School District Business Manager Greg Gaarder said the district hadn’t seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, the student’s art teacher asked his class in February to draw landscapes. The student, a senior identified in the lawsuit by the initials A.P., added a cross and the words “John 3:16 A sign of love” in his drawing.

His teacher, Julie Millin, asked him to remove the reference to the Bible, saying students were making remarks about it. He refused, and she gave him a zero on the project.

Millin showed the student a policy for the class that prohibited any violence, blood, sexual connotations or religious beliefs in artwork. The lawsuit claims Millin told the boy he had signed away his constitutional rights when he signed the policy at the beginning of the semester.

The boy tore the policy up in front of Millin, who kicked him out of class. Later that day, assistant principal Cale Jackson told the boy his religious expression infringed on other students’ rights.

Jackson told the boy, his stepfather and his pastor at a meeting a week later that religious expression could be legally censored in class assignments. Millin stated at the meeting the cross in the drawing also infringed on other students’ rights.

The boy received two detentions for tearing up the policy. Jackson referred questions about the lawsuit to Gaarder.

Sometime after that meeting, the boy’s metals teacher rejected his idea to build a chain-mail cross, telling him it was religious and could offend someone, the lawsuit claims. The boy decided in March to shelve plans to make a pin with the words “pray” and “praise” on it because he was afraid he’d get a zero for a grade.

The lawsuit also alleges school officials allow other religious items and artwork to be displayed on campus.

A Buddha and Hindu figurines are on display in a social studies classroom, the lawsuit claims, adding the teacher passionately teaches Hindu principles to students.

In addition, a replica of Michaelangelo’s “The Creation of Man” is displayed at the school’s entrance, a picture of a six-limbed Hindu deity is in the school’s hallway and a drawing of a robed sorcerer hangs on a hallway bulletin board.

Drawings of Medusa, the Grim Reaper with a scythe and a being with a horned head and protruding tongue hang in the art room and demonic masks are displayed in the metals room, the lawsuit alleges.

A.P. suffered unequal treatment because of his religion even though student expression is protected by the First Amendment, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday.

“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” the lawsuit said. “No compelling state interest exists to justify the censorship of A.P.’s religious expression.”

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13 Responses to Expelled — Separation of Church and State in Public Education, Selectively Enforced

  1. I’ve experienced similar discrimination against — not religion — but Christianity. It seems the devil doesn’t care what you believe, as long as it isn’t true.

  2. It’s ironic how the groups that object to censoring Harry Potter etc. have no problem with censoring the Bible and things from it.

  3. … which prooves that Christianity possess truth! World can’t hear truth and can’t handle it!
    I like when American “demoNcracy” shows it’s true faith! No wonder that papers with “In God we Trust” looses their value literary!

  4. “Jackson told the boy, his stepfather and his pastor at a meeting a week later that religious expression could be legally censored in class assignments. Millin stated at the meeting the cross in the drawing also infringed on other students’ rights.”

    Absolutely amazing. I would never have believed that this could happen in an American school if I hadn’t read it with my own eyes.

    Several thoughts occurred to me when I read this article. I couldn’t help thinking back to my own school days, when my classmates and I used to have passionate arguments in our English and Social Science classes about controversial questions such as the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, euthanasia, animal rights, ZPG, abortion, and so on. That was back in the 1970s. Have freedom of speech and freedom of expression gone backwards since then? To suppress class debates on religious matters in the name of a spurious “right not be be offended” is intellectually stifling, and hampers students’ search for truth, which is surely something they have a right to pursue. And what better way is there to pursue truth than by thrashing out ideas in a vigorous debate?

    The right to create freely goes hand-in-hand with the right to speak freely. Students have a natural right to artistically express their ideas, be they religious or otherwise. To limit this right to freedom of expression in the name of “respect for diversity” is to put the human spirit in a straitjacket. No true artist could bear such a constraint.

    I also wondered what would have happened if the boy had been a Muslim and he had painted a mosque. Would his teacher have dared to upbraid him? I think not. Have Christians forgotten how to fight for their rights?

    I also wondered how the assistant principal of a school could subscribe to the bizarre, un-American notion that students could sign away their right to express their religious beliefs in a classroom assignment. Has he ever studied the American constitution?

    Finally, it occurred to me that all this “rights-talk” is symptomatic of a deeper problem. People can always dream up spurious “rights” to limit the exercise of genuine ones, and the only sensible way to distinguish genuine rights from spurious ones is to appeal to natural law, and to some set of “basic human goods” whose goodness cannot be meaningfully questioned. Most contemporary natural law theorists consider knowledge and art to be basic human goods. Happily, the past 30 years have seen a great and glorious revival of the natural law tradition, and at least one Supreme Court Justice (Clarence Thomas) has openly endorsed natural law theory. Let’s hope sanity prevails in this case.

  5. Leo: The ACLU? You’re joking right?
    ———————

    Gerry:

    “It seems the devil doesn’t care what you believe, as long as it isn’t true.”

    Great truth there.

    Where is the intolerance towards Islam everywhere? In spite of 9/11 there are still nearly 100,000 muslim immigrants into the USA every year. They reproduce more than the average american and have no qualms about taking over neighborhoods 1 by 1 – like in Europe.

    But are there symbols and such tolerated? Yes. Far more so than anything Christian. Christian is already a bad word in many levels of US culture and media.

    The teacher that had the kid expelled ought to be tarred and feathered.

    I think it’s high time for a more radical Christianity – something like that of the early church. The early Christians were not martyred in such great numbers for their passivity.

    Christ had no problems with making a whip and using it as well as kicking over tables.

    As long as the modern Christians persist in always turning the other cheek, even when they should react with radical objection, Christianity will continue to dissolve in the USA and Europe.

    Have we become wimps, cowards and grovelers?

    Tolerance (to the point of obsequious stupidity) is perhaps the number one sin of the Church of the last century.

  6. “Later that day, assistant principal Cale Jackson told the boy his religious expression infringed on other students’ rights.”

    And why should the principal care about the infringement of other students’ rights when his school is doing a fine job in not caring about this Christian boy’s rights?

  7. “A Buddha and Hindu figurines are on display in a social studies classroom”

    However, didn’t principal Cale Jackson say that “religious expression infringed on other students’ rights”? Now Buddhism and Hinduism are not considered religion?

  8. Borne:
    I nominate you to be the one to, as it were, cast the first bucket of pitch. After all, only a “radical Christian” could summon up the necessary levels of conviction to drag the teacher out and tar and feather her. The rest of us are much too wimpy.

    See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_and_feather

  9. vjtorley says, “Students have a natural right to artistically express their ideas, be they religious or otherwise. To limit this right to freedom of expression in the name of “respect for diversity” is to put the human spirit in a straitjacket. No true artist could bear such a constraint.”

    Hear, hear! Well said. Though I would fortify “natural right” with “God-given privilege and duty.”

    Borne says, “Tolerance (to the point of obsequious stupidity) is perhaps the number one sin of the Church of the last century.”

    I tend to agree. But the root of the problem, I believe, is that the Church has become Laodicean — lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. And we all know how that makes Jesus feel, Rev 3:16.

  10. You may recall that the Roman empire had no problems ‘tolerating’ religions, demi-gods, or other belief systems, so long as they didn’t challenge or supercede the great Ceasar.

    Today we (secularists) can tolerate anything — as long as they can control it. Buddah or Vishnu do not make demands of us, nor are we accounatable to them.

    Stangely, though, if they tolerate demons and idols on the basis that they are myths, aren’t they actually admitting that (perhaps) the cross (and Christianity) aren’t?

    It’s like when Soviet soldiers forced Christians to piss on pictures of Jesus. The obvious questions for the soldiers was, “Why should you care about defacing someone whom you don’t believe in?”

  11. tribune7, You are right that general public and schools in particular don’t mind sorcery and magic, and other similar New Age or Syncretist stuff, as the even the article alludes to — “other students were allowed to draw demonic images…” or “drawing of a robed sorcerer hangs on a hallway bulletin board.” Thanks to Hollywood and satanic rock music, the demonic is becoming quite acceptable.

    I am not sure where Harry Potter is censored any more, (has it ever been except a few concerned ministers who symbolically burned the books?), since, sadly, such magic is extremely popular even in the mainstream Christianity and Catholicism, even among the Christian and Catholic intellectuals. It seems black magic and the demonic is tolerated as an acceptable non-religious and non-denominational option.

  12. rockyr,

    I remember some parents objecting to Harry Potter, but I don’t know if a school ever pulled it. And of course, unlike if it were the Bible, no court was ever involved in addressing the issue.

    For the record, I think the Harry Potter books are fine, and don’t glamorize the occult in the least. In fact, the only thing I think the manage to glamorize, amazingly enough, is school.

  13. tribune7, I am puzzled. I thought you were objecting that the occult, magic and demonic is tolerated, while Christianity isn’t. What then did you mean by your comment 2?

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