religious notes

One from either side of the country--

NJ school district sued over graduation ceremony in church (emphasis mine):

RENTON, N.J. -- A high school graduation ceremony held last year in a Baptist church has sparked a religious freedom lawsuit against the largest public school district in the state.

The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit against Newark public schools for violating the rights of a Muslim high school senior whose religious beliefs restricted him from attending his own graduation.

Bilal Shareef had to forgo a graduation ceremony from West Side High School in Newark because his own religion forbade him from entering a building with religious images, the civil liberties group said.


The ACLU-NJ said it first complained about a West Side High School graduation at New Hope Baptist Church in 2005, but agreed not to sue when the district's legal director made assurances that the school district would avoid holding a graduation at a religious location again.

But in 2006, graduation was again held at New Hope. And the principal at the time even told graduating students that they would get two additional tickets for family and friends to go to the graduation, provided they also attended a separate religious baccalaureate ceremony at the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Sacred according to the civil liberties group.
Unacceptable. The principal should lose his job for bribing students and their families with giving them more tickets to the public school graduation they if they attend a particular religious ceremony first. That's simply unacceptable behavior for a public school principal. Also, Trenton isn't exactly a small town, no? Surely there are large, non-religious buildings that could work for a graduation ceremony. Surely someone at the school would have looked into it since they had already said they would not be holding the ceremonies in religious places again? Right? Uh-huh.

Next comes a story close to me.Anyway, several students were suspended for refusing to be reasonable about praying at school:

A dust-up over group prayers in the Heritage High School commons before the start of school triggered the suspension of a dozen students on Friday.

It also quickly threatened to fan up into a broader skirmish in the culture war.

By day’s end, “pagans,” “Satanists” and religious freedom were words in play, and a Florida-based group affiliated with Jerry Falwell had announced it would defend the students.

A top Evergreen Public Schools administrator downplayed the incident but confirmed that 12 pupils were disciplined after they ignored a faculty order to stop meeting for prayer in the commons area at the 2,200-student high school near Orchards, one of Clark County’s largest schools.

A praying student ordered to detention on Friday said two group co-leaders received 10-day suspensions, while eight others were given three-day suspensions. They had been warned on Thursday not to meet again in the commons, she said.

Bill Bentley, an Evergreen assistant superintendent who oversees Heritage, said pupils were warned days ago that their informal morning prayer sessions were blocking traffic in the crowded commons. Other students complained to school faculty about the prayers, he said.

Heritage administrators offered use of a classroom to the group, per written district policy that allows religious or other student clubs to use school facilities during non-school hours, with limited supervision.

Bentley said it was the physical “disruption” of the prayer group inside the busy campus corridor and open defiance of faculty orders that earned the suspensions, not the prayers themselves.

“No one gets suspended because they pray. This is a story of some kids who chose to defy a legitimate request by administrators to not disrupt other students,” Bentley said.
Sounds like the administration was doing right here and not disallowing the group but trying to accomodate everyone in the building--giving the group a place to gather and pray and giving everyone else a non-blocked busy area. It's also not like this was a surprise to the students, as the had already been talked to about this by the school administration.

Besides the purpose is for prayer and fellowship, right? It's not for showboating, right? So it shouldn't matter where they pray, right?
The prayer circle’s purpose is visibility, to give other shy students the strength to express their faith, Gaultier [Megan] said. “If we’re in a secluded room, they can’t just join in” as she had [...]
So it is all about showboating. The article notes that these kids DON'T want to form a club or group to let others know about it. The whole point is put on a public show. The "shy kid" is probably more likely to join a group that isn't putting itself on display and blocking a busy common area, but let's not let logic get in the way here.

And, of course, some people are bitching about how this is yet another example of "bigotry" against Christians in this country (check out the comments attached to the article). To that I say: what-fucking-ever, try thinking for once, and get some therapy for your persecution fetish.

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