Louisiana public school sued for extreme and repeated Christian proselytizing of students

When I travel and talk about evolution, say in India, I’m sometimes asked about the teaching of creationism in American public schools. When I reply that it’s illegal, but some schools do it anyway, people are incredulous. In India, for example, I’ve never heard of public schools dragging creationism into a science class. When I’m further asked why this happens, I explain that, in the U.S. all creationism ultimately stems from religious attitudes, and my country is far more religious than most people in other countries realize. (The only nonreligious creationist I know of is David Berlinski, who describes himself as a “secular Jew”, but I suspect he’s a closet theist. Why else would he work for the Discovery Institute, an intelligent-design creationism organization that posits a “designer”?)

As evidence of America’s deep religiosity, have a look at this article by Mallory Simon from CNN (click on screenshot), which comes with a short video (I’ve embedded it separately) that you should watch.

Have a gander:

Here we have Kaylee Cole, a 17-year-old student at Lakeside High School, a public school in Webster Parish, Louisiana. (Louisiana is one of the most religious states in the US.) She became an agnostic and was upset by the daily prayers that her school broadcast over the PA system, as well as the pervasive praying and atmosphere that made the school seem to her like “a church”.  And that’s not all: the the entire community is marinated in faith. Here are two photos from the school itself (remember, public schools are considered part of the U.S. government and aren’t allowed to promote religion):

On the school wall:

“Daily objects” for students:

Both police cars and ambulances bear the motto “In God We Trust”.

As CNN reports:

The Coles say that prayer over the loudspeaker each morning is just the beginning of an unconstitutional indoctrination of students that is promoted and supported by teachers, the principal, the superintendent and the school board.

“Virtually all school events — such as sports games, pep rallies, assemblies, and graduation ceremonies –include school-sponsored Christian prayer, religious messages and/or proselytizing,” according to the lawsuit filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

And of course it affects the teaching—or rather non-teaching—of science:

Religion made its way into instruction, too, Cole alleges. She recalls a teacher slapping the Bible on her desk and declaring it should be taken literally. And a science teacher saying evolution is a “fairy tale,” that students should believe in “Adam and Eve, not the big bang.”

Kaylee, urged by her mother (who identifies as a Christian), and with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, is suing the school for violating the Constitution’s First Amendment. The school admits some of these episodes, but says they’re not violations of the law because they’re “voluntary” and “student-led”. But those are still illegal because there’s no escaping them and because they occur during school hours. Further, the prayer that, says Cole, is ubiquitous at student meetings, assemblies, and athletic games is dismissed by the school board as nonexistent.  CNN, however, posted a video of it occurring.

Even the attorney general of Louisiana, Jeff Landry, who has to defend the school’s actions, has paintings of Moses and Jesus in his office, something that’s also illegal.

Look at Jesus in Congress!

The school’s actions are palpably illegal, and, as this case proceeds upward toward the Supreme Court, they will at some point be declared unconstitutional. But whether or not the school will actually obey a court order is questionable. Some residents have simply told the Coles to leave town if they don’t like the religiosity. Kaylee is a brave woman, but she’ll graduate at some point, and then the school is free to resume its illegal proselytizing—until some other courageous student complains.

A secularist’s logical response to this mess would be, “If you must pray, can’t you do it off school grounds?” But that underestimates the deep beliefs of the local residents, who feel they have a right not only to pray whenever and wherever they want, but also don’t care if doing so violates the law. To those who fail to comprehend the depth of Christian belief in the American South, read these statements:

[Greg] Lee, a banker who also views himself as a servant of God, says he’s instilled his sense of deep faith in his children. It has always been a part of their life. They have always prayed — at church, at school, and whenever they feel the need to.

“You have to realize that our tradition, our belief in God is so ingrained in us and so rooted in us that it’s a part of everything that we do,” Lee says. “I would like for my kid to be able to have the right and retain the right to pray and to have prayer in school.”


A group of women waiting for the coffee shop to open for their regular fellowship are happy to talk about their faith and prayer in school. But as the rain pours down and they cram into the covered doorway, they don’t want to give their names, afraid of how it might impact their children in school with the lawsuit pending.

“If people are telling us, saying leave faith at the door, it just isn’t that simple,” one woman says. “It’s what’s in our hearts from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. It isn’t something we can turn off. And that’s true for our children too.”

For such people, the “law of God” supercedes civil law, and so they just don’t care. They won’t give up unless they’re forced to—most likely when the school board has to pay a ton of money in court costs to fight this losing battle. For those foreign readers who wonder why America has an evolution problem, have a look at this article and watch the video.



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Very good. For those who doubt the constant illegal incursion of religion into public school, this is just one good sample. This goes on all the time and in many parts of the country. Just read your monthly review from the FFRF. And if we wonder why our schools continue to fall behind other countries and will fail to compete in a global economy, there should not be any surprise. This is the cause of the ignorance you see today in the republican congress and in the supreme court. It all goes back to this.

    • Blue
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      +1, Others, and for me, … … in particular
      “from the FFRF” and from Randall, thus:
      “It all goes back to this.”


  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    (The only nonreligious creationist I know of is David Berlinski, who describes himself as a “secular Jew”, but I suspect he’s a closet theist. Why else would he work for the Discovery Institute, an intelligent-design creationism organization that posits a “designer”?)

    I think Berlinski’s gig at the DI is limited to his stabs at deconstructing Darwinian evolution, rather endorsing creationism. I distinctly recall a debate on “Firing Line” in which he expressly declined to endorse intelligent design (or any other alternative to evolutionary theory), contending instead that the evidentiary record is “vexed.” As to why he does it, I don’t know, but wouldn’t rule out the usual suspects — financial remuneration and having a readymade adulatory audience.

    • David Evans
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Fred Hoyle spent some time poking holes in evolutionary theory. I think his view was that there hadn’t been time for intelligent life to evolve (unaided) on Earth, but that in the infinitely old steady-state universe it could and would have evolved somewhere else. His designer would have been a visiting alien rather than any sort of god.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Hoyle was an object lesson in the dangers of a scientist wondering too far afield of his area of expertise.

        • nicky
          Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink


          • nicky
            Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            Although I would have used ‘Abject’, instead of ‘Object’ 🙂

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Old Fred was a Yorkshireman – being loud, not listening to reason & ruffling feathers for the halibut is part of the job description. Here’s the historic pre-Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKHFZBUTA4k
        [inc. Marty Feldman god save us]

    • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I guess, the poor man has a huge mortgage to pay.

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Noted in passing last week, Creation Hall, at the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair (or at least the entrance to it), was re-assembled at Coney Island where at one point it looked like this. Note that it’s part of Dreamland. Even better, note the juxtaposition to Foolish House.

  4. boggy
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I live in France where the ‘laicité’ law of 1905 prevents church involvement in education, administration and hospitals. This is enforced rigorously and around Christmas each year there is a big fuss if a town hall has exhibited a nativity crib. There is no apparent wish to return to the bad old days when the Church poked its holy nose into areas where it is not wanted.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      A difference here that adds another dimension to the problem is that it isn’t churches causing this problem it’s the citizens. Though I’m sure the churches they are congregants of do encourage them.

  5. Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    ” Prayer over the loudspeaker each morning”

    – seems to be a Christian variant of the minaret prayer call … .

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Precisely. Life in this Louisiana parish is apparently a mere taste of what life is like in many Muslim majority countries.

      Education appears to be absolutely key. Once upon a time, Quebec society was backward, corrupt and priest-ridden. Then, in the early 60s I believe, a Liberal government took education out of the hands of the Church. In a flash, by historical standards, Quebec underwent “la révolution tranquille” to become a modern, forward-looking, and mostly secular society. The speed of the transition was astonishing.

      • Nicolas Perrault
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        As a Quebecer that has experienced the “révolution tranquille” I can attest that what you say is true.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Imagine how the religious right stalwarts claiming an infringement of liberty here would be squealing like stuck pigs were Muslims to gain majority control of a school board and begin broadcasting Islamic prayer over the school PA system.

      • Posted January 29, 2018 at 5:22 am | Permalink

        Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi –

    • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. They may have culturally appropriated the idea.

  6. Vaal
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink


    “In God We Trust”…

    …written on an ambulance!

    Talk about mixed messages 😉

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      In God We Trust … but bring the defibrillator anyway.

    • Robert Bray
      Posted January 30, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Reminded me of this pithy quatrain from Emily Dickinson:

      ‘Faith’ is a fine invention
      For Gentlemen who SEE!
      But Microscopes are prudent
      In an Emergency! [202]

    • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      I thought the same.

  7. glen1davidson
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I think Berlinski’s a lazy intellectual who thinks poking experts in the eyes proves his worth. A lot of ID/creationist internet “experts” seem to think that their creationism is something that makes them superior to the “dogmatic evolutionists.”

    Some people are cranks, and that might explain Berlinski well enough on its own. His Devil’s Delusion could indicate closet theism, I’ll agree, but he’s not been too shy about conceding his opportunistism, either, so it’s hard to really know.

    But I’m not sure if he knows, either, since, although he’s bright enough, he’s really an intellectual slacker who tries to take others down to feel like he’s accomplished something. I don’t know if can do anything else.

    Glen Davidson

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      My sense is that he just likes the sound of his own voice, and the ID movement is one of the few “intellectual” arenas that doesn’t have an intellectual content requirement for participants.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Berlinski seems to cultivate a Dark Prince, Strangeglovian aura. I think of him as the Charles Krauthammer of the ID wars.

  8. Historian
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Because this community is so saturated with religiosity, I fear that regardless of what the court orders, the good people of Webster Parish will find a way to continue doing what they have been doing. Remember, Eisenhower had to send in federal troops to desegregate Little Rock High School in Arkansas. Nothing similar will happen here. This is why one may conclude that the secularization of many parts of America, particularly rural areas, has shown little progress. For most of the deeply religious, taking away their ability to express their faith anytime, anywhere, is the equivalent of taking away their right to eat. Just as the drug addict cannot survive without drugs, these people believe that their lives would be meaningless without religion.

    The events in Louisiana depress me about the future of secularization in America. However, when I look at the data my mood brightens. Writing on the FiveThirtyEight site, Daniel Cox notes:

    “But in longing for an American past, white evangelical Protestants1 may be neglecting their future. As a group, they’re drifting further away — politically and culturally — from the American mainstream. There are growing signs that white evangelical Protestantism is no longer immune to the broader social and cultural forces that are reshaping the American religious landscape.”

    He goes on to describe how the religious profile of young Americans differ so greatly from the older generation:

    “Only 8 percent of young people identify as white evangelical Protestant, while 26 percent of senior citizens do.”

    Finally, he writes:

    “After dominating much of American politics for the past 40 years, white evangelical Protestants are now facing a sharp decline. Nearly one-third of white Americans raised in evangelical Christian households leave their childhood faith.2 About 60 percent of those who leave end up joining another faith tradition, while 40 percent give up on religion altogether. The rates of disaffiliation are even higher among young adults: 39 percent of those raised evangelical Christian no longer identify as such in adulthood. And while there is always a good deal of churn in the religious marketplace — people both entering and leaving faith traditions — recent findings suggest that membership losses among white evangelical Protestants are not being offset by gains.”

    This article goes into much more detail and is well worth reading by those who despair about the seemingly intractability of religion in American life. At the moment, things look bright for secularists.


    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I don’t think we want to send the bayonet-wielding 101st Airborne to prevent schoolkids from praying in Webster Parish. As the pundits are wont to say, it would make for “bad optics.” 🙂

  9. DrBrdyon
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    The Constitution is a compact between citizens that we all implicitly agree to, and which, through the First and Fourteenth Amendments, says that we will not use the government to try to impose our faith on others. Sadly, although many of the first colonists had experienced confessional repression themselves, they introduced it into America. The Founders were well aware of what an established religion would mean to the already pluralist United States, from the Colonial as well as European History. To say that God’s law is above the Constitution is to reject the compact that allows us all to live in peace. Besides, there is no law from God saying that there needs to be school prayer. If anything, there is the opposite:

    Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Even during that period in the 18th century when enlightened tendencies struck some of the people and had some influence on our Constitution there was plenty of religious incursion to go around. The fight to stop taxing the people of Virginia for the chosen church continued for years prior to the meeting in Philly. The fight to get religion out of our public schools likely started with the first public schools and continues today with limited success.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        An excellent book on Christianity in America, especially as to the colonial period, is Garry Wills’ Head and Heart: American Christianities.

      • Blue
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        And, too Randall, in to the 19th Century as
        well, with this work of Ms Matilda JOSLYN
        (Gage)’s … … along with very many others
        then, y1893: “Woman, Church and State,”
        fully of here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/wmn/wcs/index.htm = of its
        introduction there, ” … … of the first
        books to draw the conclusion that
        Christianity is A PRIMARY IMPEDIMENT TO the
        progress of women, as well as civilization.”

        See why, do AllYa’All, I would love to dine
        with Ms Joslyn ? !


    • Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      The paradox is that an established religion, like the Church of England in the UK, has resulted in a more secular society than in the USA where the separation of church and state engendered a free market of religion and enhanced national religiosity.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        I would be careful in comparing the U.K. and it’s Church with the American condition. You think then if we give them what they want it will all work out for us. If you really look at the fundamentalist, the creationist (boat builders) with museums for the kiddies to ride on dinosaurs or even the plain old everyday Baptist, I think you have nothing to compare.

        • Stephen Mynett
          Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          We may have a more secular society in the UK but the churches are still a big problem and the CofE refuses to die gracefully.

          With a vicar’s daughter for PM the church has a big ally, although previous PMs have been no better. State schools are being given to the CofE to run as the church knows its only chance of survival is to indoctrinate as many young people as possible.

          I hope they fail but the simple fact is they should not even be given the chance to do this.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      There is also this:

      And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
      (Matthew 6:5–8)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        I’ve heard the argument made that the concept of church-state separation is itself religious in nature, a tenet of dissenting Protestantism that religion must be kept apart from the corrupting influence of government.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          I can hear Madison making that argument, although I don’t know that he did. He was arguing that the State of Virginia should separate it’s connection to the church and the church in favor should think about the future when they might happen to fall out of favor.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 28, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            I think Jefferson and Madison used a variation of that argument to make the Establishment Clause (and the earlier version of it in Virginia’s “Statute for Religious Freedom”) more palatable to fervent believers.

        • DaveP
          Posted January 29, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

          Separation of church and state in US can be tied to the founding of Providence Colony by a religious zealot, Roger Williams. One of his beliefs was that intermixing government and religion corrupted both. I’ve seen little evidence that he was wrong.

          • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

            So a religious zealot was right about religion at least once!

      • Posted January 29, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        Has anyone *ever* found a Christian following this consistently? Even a monk with his cell of contemplation still likely meets his brothers for occasional services.

    • Roger
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      The Constitution is a compact between citizens that we all implicitly agree to

      Although it’s natural to say so since it’s so ingrained in our psyches, it seems a bit deceptively worded so as to appeal to our jingoism. More like rules the government insists we abide by.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Mostly it is just an outline. The rules and regulations came later. Even the “rules” in the bill of rights, if you refer to them, came later and only at the insistence of those most suspicious of government in the first place.

      • mikeyc
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        “More like rules the government insists we abide by.”

        This is wrong. The constitution sets the rules the government must abide by. This isn’t a trivial distinction and many people get it exactly backwards.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted January 28, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Yes, if you looked at Article 3 on the Judiciary the constitution says almost nothing and the founders spent little time on it. The founders expected the Congress to carry the load and spent most of the time on this – Article one. The Congress spent much time since giving away power to the executive and becoming the section of govt. mostly concerned with self centered money making. But they still did not trust the people, as well they shouldn’t and only let them vote for members of the house.

        • Roger
          Posted January 28, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          Okay alright then that’s more like it but I’m not convinced that is 100% on point because it would mean it would be impossible for citizens to do unconstitutional things.

          • Jeff Chamberlain
            Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

            Private individuals cannot act unconstitutionally. Only people acting on behalf of or under the auspices of government can act unconstitutionally.

  10. steve oberski
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    As a xtian (and I suspect religious fundamentalists in general) if you are not trampling on the rights of others then you are being persecuted.

    • Doug
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      When gay marriage was legalized, our local newspaper ran a letter to the editor saying, “My religion says that marriage is between a man ans a woman. Therefore this decision is violating my freedom of religion.” Seriously.

      • Doug
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        “And” a woman.

      • Doug
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        “And” a woman.

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Persecution makes them more powerful because it makes them more christ-like. Too bad there isn’t an easier Kryptonite to sway these type of folks other than law or reason.

      • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        This is only when “persecution” is benign enough. When it is severe, as in Muslim-majority countries, Christians are driven to near-extinction.

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    You can bring your religion to school without parading it in a public display all over every wall. There’s nothing to stop students from talking in the classroom about how religion influences their moral behavior, nor anything to stop them from expressing their liking inspirational art, whether its Michelangelo or a mediocre religious movie.

    But, a public school is NOT(!!) a place of worship or a church anymore than a car dealership or a pet store. The Danbury Baptists to whom Jefferson wrote his letter about “separation of church and state” would have understood this very clearly. You are not to turn a public school into a house of prayer or worship. And when you spray religion all over the walls of a school, that’s what you are doing. It’s that damn simple!!!

    Re: “my country is far more religious than most people in other countries realize”
    This is especially true of John Lennon when he made his famous “Beatles are more popular than Jesus” remark.

    David Berlinski may very likely be a closet theist, but he seems to think there’s a link between belief in evolution and the Holocaust, so there’s a modest possibility that he is not.

    • prinzler
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Agreed. Freedom of conscience allows *individuals* to have their religion infused throughout their life and what they do, but the *institutions* of government do not have freedom of conscience, and so must not privilege one belief over another, even if the vast majority of people hold that belief sincerely and deeply.

      • CJColucci
        Posted January 29, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        There will be prayer in school as long as there is algebra. What you can’t have is “government prayer.”

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Hard to believe that, over a half-century after Engle v. Vitale, after the Schempp decision, after the struggles of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, this school-prayer foolishness still rears its ridiculous face.

  13. Rita
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I think The individual students are free to pray anytime they want to, it’s when the school or its employees lead prayers (or, post religious signs, etc.)that there is a problem. Big difference.

  14. darrelle
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I am beyond sick of people like these receiving praise for how strongly they proclaim their religious convictions. These people do not deserve praise, they deserve scorn, or pity at best. They bleat endlessly about their piety and their closeness to their god of love on the one hand while on the other they say tough shit to anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs being forced to endure their pervasive psychotic rituals and be otherwise treated as pariahs. They are not nice people. They are not ethical people.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Jeff Landrey AG at the end of that clip being a prime example – supporting the Medicaid welfare work requirement & fake, strained shit-eating shark grin tells me all I need to know

      • darrelle
        Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Yeah. He definitely fits the mold.

    • Blue
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      +1, Mr darrelle: “They are not nice people.”

      They are NOT.


      ps #metoo: … … “beyond sick” o”em all.

  15. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I had been watching this particular story on CNN.
    Rather than listen only to the admonishments from the lawyers and other ‘outsiders’ of their area, I can only recommend that the parents and teachers and school administrators in Webster Parish discuss things with their neighboring communities with whom they identify. I hope that they may find among them that there are indeed similarly religious communities with public schools that manage to have private moments of religion in schools while not being in open violation of the establishment clause of the constitution. It should come as a revelation to them.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Oh, and ‘end italics’.

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Is the artiste who did Jesus in Congress the same as who painted HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s Jesus in Bathrobe?


  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    A secularist’s logical response to this mess would be, “If you must pray, can’t you do it off school grounds?”

    The courts have upheld the constitutionality of daily “moments of silence” — which were adopted as an opportunity for collective prayer after overt praying in school was outlawed. And, of course, nothing prevents students from engaging in individual silent prayer in school. Hell, the old joke is that they would always do so as long as there were math tests.

  18. alexandra Moffat
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    The media, cinema, could help by portraying the cruelties of the inquisition, the mayhem in England when it went protestant and catholic-protestant animosities, barbarisms resulted. History shows what happens when government takes sides and fosters religion – the study of history in US schools is losing out to STEM???? As is the study of the Constitution….

    • Posted February 3, 2018 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Speaking of the constitution, here is a quote from one who signed it…””[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.” -Gouverneur Morris
      Those who have ruled with tyranny in the name of the bible’s God did not follow the teachings of the bible. The bible portrays a God of justice and equity, with clear teaching about the dignity of human life. It is where the idea comes from that all men are created equal and have certain inalienable rights. The teachings of the bible are what have made our country a safe place. Communism, on the other hand, an ideology based on the theory of evolution, dehumanizes people. Just read biographies of people who have lived in communistic societies and have lost everything for “the greater good”. Communism has a bloodbath in its wake that no one likes to talk about. While an estimated 45 million died in China’s great leap forward, an estimated 50 million deaths occurred in the Soviet Union. Karl Marx, the author of the Communist Manifesto, said that if you want a society to become communistic you must first start by introducing socialism. We are in the midst of this change in our society, hence the change in how history is taught. The roadblock to communism is the belief in God, which may explain why is illegal to freely follow your faith in a communistic society.

      • Robert Bray
        Posted February 4, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        ‘The bible portrays a God of justice and equity, with clear teaching about the dignity of human life. It is where the idea comes from that all men are created equal and have certain inalienable rights.’

        This is an astonishing pair of assertions about the Bible and its morality. The character of Yahweh in the Hebraic part of the Bible–the so-called Old Testament–hardly comports with your notion of a ‘God of justice and equity.’ This, sir or madam, should be plain to any reader. And the tenets of the Declaration of Independence, far from biblical in derivation, were there inscribed by a group of men whose religion is best described as Deism. They were products of the 17th-18th century western European Enlightenment. Some nominally Christian, others not Christian at all, at least in the evangelical sense.

        Democratic socialism, by the way, is not a gateway drug to communism (which has never been a serious threat in the U. S.). Rather it is a political arrangement designed better to assure progress toward citizens’ equality and, more generally, assuring human dignity. I take it from your post that your God is in favor of this.

        • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          What is astonishing is that people are astonished that God judges nations. How this is repugnant to them, while they are also disgusted with the evils they discover in history lessons, does not logically compute.

      • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        However, the Acts of the Apostles describe a scary communist experiment:

        I suppose that, once Christianity became state religion in Rome (or even before this), communist insitutions ran out of other people’s money, as usual, and were quietly abandoned.

        • Posted February 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          Context matters. I have to respectfully assert that you are comparing apples with oranges when you bring in the book of Acts. A church community is different than governing a nation. Honestly, in my estimation, for what it’s worth, with politics, things unravel because imperfect people are involved. That is why I favor the founders when they sought to limit the government. That is why I am non trusting of any system that seeks to make the government a little bigger.

  19. Nobody Special
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Those paintings! They make those prints of dogs playing poker and pool tasteful by comparison. Christ (sic), even some of the members of congress are pointing and laughing, and the woman seated back-right is covering her face rather than risking being recognised; not bad going for a figment of the artist’s (again – sic) imagination.

  20. nicky
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink


  21. jaxkayaker
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    What I always find so tiresome about these issues is that no one’s stopping anyone from praying in schools, they’re just not allowed to use authority for official sanctioning of their prayers nor to force others to participate. How weak is your faith if you need government to force your own participation? How sincere is the faith of those others you force to participate?

    • Blue
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      +1 and #metoo, jaxkayaker.


    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Citizens might be less resistant to that argument if lawmakers would stop employing legislative chaplains and stop opening their own sessions with prayer.

  22. Mark R.
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    And I’d bet the entire town voted for Trump. It’s dumb all the way down.

    And speaking of dumb, did anyone hear that the disgraced ex-governor of Kansas and fundamentalist fanatic Sam Brownback went from being kicked out of the Kansas governorship to becoming Trump’s Ambassador of International Religious Freedom? Again, Pence had to break the 49-49 Senate tie for confirmation. Filth continues to rise to the top in this administration.

    • Posted February 2, 2018 at 3:46 am | Permalink

      As a reluctant Kansan, I can tell you that Brownback’s downfall had nothing to do with religion. He subscribed to a failed tax policy that is now part of the Trump administration’s agenda. Brownback simply cut the state’s taxes with the claim that any and every tax cut was good for “growing the economy.” I believe another claim was that smaller government is good regardless of how many services have to be cut. So Brownback and cohorts cut the state’s budget for schools. Teachers were let go. As if this wasn’t enough, there seems to be a cap on real estate levies, which are local and not state business. So I now pay 9.1% sales tax when it was 8.55% last summer. Voters approved the increase in this county in order to expand the size of the courthouse and to build the county’s first coroner’s facility. Previously, the county rented space for the coroner. I just bought a can of tuna fish for 70 cents. what it actually cost me was 76 cents. 4 cans: $2.80 became $3.05. In the meantime, Kansas’s Supreme Court ruled against the cuts in educational spending. The state has to restore spending to the pre-Brownback era in 4 or 5 years. Pres. Trump rescued Brownback who faced contempt of court because he wasn’t going to sign off on a tax increase. Pres. Trump also rescued “our” Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He ran on the premise that voter ID laws in Kansas needed to be strengthened to prevent the fraud that doesn’t exist. Kobach found reasons to disqualify about 20,000 Kansans in 2016 because of lack of proof of citizenship and/or lack of a photo ID. I believe that about 10,000 were disqualified with cause. The other 10,000 would have been disqualified if not for intervention by a federal court. Kobach was going to violate a federal voters’ act. The 10,000 voters couldn’t vote for president. I heard something about Kobach proposing a two-tier system. Some Kansans could vote for president and for Congress but not for state offices. Kobach stood down from contempt of court at the last moment. Pres. Trump rescued him by finding a way for Kobach to mess up the nation’s system of voting. Kansas is a rural state, and any number of the older people were born at home. They may never have had a birth certificate. Kobach never set up a program to help Kansans get birth certificates or to get photo ID’s. (It would have cost money.) If these guys are Christians, they are very bad Christians. When they’re bad, they’re very bad.

  23. Posted January 28, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I attended Catholic School in Jamaica. Jamaica allows religion in the classroom and has the Guinness world book record for most churches per capita square mile. And it still wasn’t this bad for us!

    We had “devotion” in the morning, which is normal at most Jamaican schools. It’s praise mingled with morning announcements, and then you have home room and classes.

    In 7th grade, when they brought creationism into the classroom, it was taught alongside the evolution theory. Creationism was one class. We spent the rest of the semester on evolution and the remaining year on ancient civilisations. I still remember the title of the textbook: Man Civilisation and Conquest. When we asked our teacher which theory she favoured, she refused to say.

    Birth control and sex ed was the same. They told us they did not believe in the use of contraceptives, but… here is what we needed to know. They left no details out. They taught us everything from the rhythm method to pills to condoms and everything in-between.

    And this is CATHOLIC school. 😂 In fact, I did sex ed for all 5 years of high school (7-11) in both biology class and Christian Family Life (basically sex ed with a title parents wouldn’t freak out about).

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Interesting! Maybe some of the US Catholic dioceses should import some Jamaican bishops.

      • Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Hahahahaha! Well I can’t vouch for all Catholic schools in Jamaica, but they could definitely benefit from our teachers. I’ve also spoken to women (it was an all girls school) who graduated years before me — old enough to be my mum — and they said they were taught all the topics I was, even all the way back then. I thought that was pretty awesome. It was hilarious how similar our lessons were, with 20+ years between us!

  24. Posted January 28, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    It looks like the increasing poverty and economic inequity of certain classes and areas of the US is, in fact, creating a sort of 3rd World society, which we know is essentially religiously-based; Why question one’s unpleasant lot in life but instead chock it up to the will of some deity. This is as true in Louisiana as it might be in Islamabad or Abuja. There is a correlation between both material wealth and intellectual freedom and degree of religiosity. This is just another example of the syndrome.

    • Posted January 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      And this is why I find this “sue the schoolboard” so unfortunate. (Doesn’t entail it shouldn’t be done, though.)

      If only the *officials* could have their salaries garnished or whatever, and not ruin what is already likely to be a board needing money.

  25. Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen some questionable things happen in our school district, such as the fundraiser a public school did for a church, but at least it’s not THAT blatant. I identify as Christian, and prayer does not belong in public schools. Period.

  26. Posted January 29, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Why else would he work for the Discovery Institute


  27. Zetopan
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    It is totally unsurprising that this is happening in the Louisiana public schools.

    Super-flake and general idiot Bobby Jindal worked hard to get creationism introduce into the Louisiana public school system when he was governor of that state.


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