Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Hostility to religion update: Well, it seems, once again, that religion is in the crossfire of our increasingly secular society. The latest victim is a teacher's aide in Pennsylvania who has run afoul of a 1895 anti-Catholic law that prohibits the display of "religious garb" in public schools. The religious garb in this case is an approximately 1-inch-long gold cross.
The aide is not accused of prosletyzing, harrassing or even mentioning the "J-word" in class -- just wearing the cross.
On Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (just what kind of Rev. is he I wonder? Probably from one of The New York Times' "mainline" churches), defended the policy -- no suprise there.
Lynn also said that a Sikh teacher couldn't wear a turban, a Muslim couldn't wear a headscarf and a Jew couldn't wear a yarmukle. In Lynn's view this is all religiously neutral -- he's wrong. By banning all religion, he has effectively made atheism the religion of the public schools.
A recent letter-writer to the San Diego Union-Tribune, commenting on the more than decadelong battle over a cross atop Mount Soledad in San Diego (the city has argued, unsuccessfully, that it is a war memorial -- not an endorsement of religion), wrote that if the cross atop Mount Soledad is a symbol of Christianity, then all of the hills and mountains without a cross are symbols of atheism.
One hopes that the court will overturn this offensive law, but it might have to go to the Supreme Court -- the Third District Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the law when it was challenged in 1990 -- by a Muslim.