Nativity in our schools, cont.

Some more thoughts on the local school board's vote to reinstate a Nativity scene in the lunchroom which had been removed due to concerns about separation of church and state: 

•The writers of the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers are clear that government cannot be used to compel or favor one religion over another. This is an venerable freedom, and one well worth preserving and defending. 

•The constitutional protection of freedom of religion is meant to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority in matters of private conscience. When it comes to taxation for roads, or wars, the majority rules. However, when it comes to private beliefs, whatever they may be, the majority is to have no say whatsoever. 

•Religious groups often argue for lax enforcement of the separation of church and state––until they end up in the minority. One of the ironies about the whole debate is that the majority is so easily able to present itself as a persecuted minority, when in fact they hold sway. 

•Religious groups often try to have it both ways: They assume they are in the majority. "We know what religion we are," said one person in favor of the measure to allow the scene. "Thank you for standing up for our beliefs!" said another on Facebook, assuming that everybody they know is in the "we."

At the same time, they claim victimhood for their beliefs. The liberals are making war on Christmas!

In the local case, the popular vote was to reinstate the nativity scene. It took no electoral courage whatsoever to cast a vote that way, since probably 85% of the local population has no problem with displays of Christian religious scenes in school. 

What took courage was to stand up for the long established principle unique to this country that the minority not only has a right to believe as they wish, but is guaranteed that the power of the state will not be used to convince them otherwise. 

So, school board members Garth Kaste, Matt Erickson and Dean Rasmussen should be lauded for their unpopular, yet principled stand. 

Now, Cook Jodi wasn't trying to convert the Jehovah's Witnesses by putting up a picture. Superintendent Brian did what his position required. Neither did anything wrong. I would be truly offended if the school had called a general assembly (mandatory or not) for a religious group disguised as an anti-drug crusade, or something similar--which has happened in our area. But a nativity scene is minor, and as I pointed out below, is in my mind dwarfed by some past impositions of the religion of "we" on "them." 

Besides the constitutional issue, there is also the matter of sheer manners

When I was on a summer program once, I was eating with some friends and used the term, "I Jewed them down." Well, one of my friends at the table was an observant Jew. I felt like a fool!

Was it political correctness for me to apologize for my slur? No, just manners. And justified shame!

Let's take the example of team prayers before games, a practice I think should not happen in public school settings. (If the Oakland Raiders want to do it, fine, they are a private organization). A player is agnostic. "Well," people shrug, "he can just go somewhere else during the prayer." Not without feeling less, he can't. 

I really get torqued when people in a religious majority think it is okay to make people in the minority feel less for their private beliefs by forcing them to acknowledge their beliefs in order to adhere to them, i.e. by making them sit alone in a classroom during religious release time. Some people live to humiliate those in the minority. They think it is part of the deal. Get over it. We're in charge here. We know what religion we are. 

That's bad manners. It is wrong. And in a publicly funded setting, it is rightly prohibited. 

And it is a faith without any depth which insists upon public symbols to validate itself. I can't for the life of me imagine a diety worth his or her salt who would give a rip.