Friday, September 14, 2007

Maybe I should start reading the Galveston County Daily News

Or at least read a few more Michael A. Smith articles. What he wrote regarding the new Texas Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act is spot on. I don't think I could have said it any better, or with any better placed sarcasm.

From the article:
Texas House Bill 3678 is an important law. It's meant to prevent religious students from being dragged off to gulags by federal marshals for such crimes as praying over cafeteria hotdogs and saying "I love Jesus" in class. The trouble is, such never happens anywhere except in the mythological world of religious conservatives, and yet the law also applies to those of us living in the real world.
But wait; he goes on:
Proponents say the bill clarifies studetns' rights under the U.S. Constitution to express personal religious beliefs at school. In the mythological world of religious conservatives, those rights routinely are trampled on by roving bands of ACLU lawyers and anti-religious educators. Pressed for examples, they provided two lawsuits filed in the past few years. Considering there are about 1100 Texas school districts, that's hardly an epidemic of litigation.
He then gets to the crux of the problem and says what many have been trying to say for so long:
What the Supreme Court understood in 2000, but our lawmakers still don't get, is the other half of the expression exchange. It's not just a matter of who gets to speak but who is compelled to sit there, captive in the classroom or auditorium or stadium, and listen.
Now people will probably say that there's nothing "making" these students stay there; that they don't have to go to the football games, and can leave the assemblies, but as any of you have ever been in high school probably know, that's not just easier said than done, it's taking the fish out of the fishbowl while everyone is watching - and remembering. This new law results in forced coercion of religious beliefs and, since the school district gets to pick who will be giving the sermons, will result in state endorsement of religion - which of course, is unconstitutional. At least, until this comes up on Cert in Scalia's court...

Read the article.

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