I learn new stuff all the time. Last week I was informed by my high school Sunday School class that the public high school they attend has a prayer rally every morning around the flag pole in front of the school. The offical school policy is that teachers may attend so long as they do not “appear to be leading”.
I have attended about a hundred graduation exercises at a nearby public university where each was opened by an invocation to God. Years ago they were lead by local clergy, but now by students.
I know kids in school wear T-shirts with religions mottos on them.
I know that I attended my son’s high school graduation at a public entertainment arena, there the class valedictorian gave a 10 minute speech about how that if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you will go to hell. The second in line gave a similar speech. And 5 years ago when my younger son graduated from the same high school, the speeches were about the same. There was not a word about the challenges of tomorrow, or working hard for the future, the endless possibilitles ahead–just a stock fundamentalist hellfire and brimstone sermon.
Now I support the freedom of worship for these kids, and I believe that if someone graduates at the head of his or her class that they have the right to say whatever they damned well please. On the other hand, I am sure that if the head of the class was an atheist, no school official would have permitted them to give a “cosmic poobah” speech, or if it happened without their pre-knowledge, it would not have been allowed to continue.
I really wonder whether these expressions are spontaneous or coerced. I know that when I went to high school, virtually all the kids went to church, but none of them was so public about their religion (but then we had Bible reading and prayer over the school intercom every day).
“The separation of church and state and the separation of ideology and state are imperatives” is a vague principle with multiple interpretations, and no program as to how it will be played out in public policy or school practice. But a followup comment, “sanitized of any reference to the Declararation’s Creator” I presume means that the doctrine of the separation of church and state means that the state, and the state’s schools can’t mention God. If that is the view, then clearly separation of church and state is not Constitutional. I’m not sure that there are very many even on the religious left beyond a few fanatics, that would advocate such a principle.
I think that primarily, the restrictions, or perceived restrictions, about religion in the public schools are in large part the result of the attempts to acutally inject more religion in the schools than there was before in terms of mandatory prayer, displays of the ten commandments, momemts of silence and the teaching of creation “science” alongside evolution.
Just as there is a fanatic fringe trying to sanitize the state from religion, there is another fanatic fringe trying to slip it in whenever they can. Liberty is most sorely challenged when it has to deal with extremists.