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Silenced for mentioning GOD

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#101 Broph

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 10:00 AM

View PostDelvo, on Jun 23 2006, 01:30 PM, said:

BS. It only covers the ones that use that word as a name, not monotheisms that use no name or a name that isn't just the word "god" capitalized, and not polytheisms. And even if it did include all or even many religions instead of just 1-3, that would still be the religious preaching at the unreligious.

Delvo, I'm just giving the explanation that I've culled from the civil liberties experts that have commented on the subject. There was a civil rights lawyer in the MSNBC video and another that I saw on a CNBC brief (that guy was from the ACLU). When someone says "God", you are covering most of the major religions, whether they use that particular name or not because the word God, even capitalized, conveys the idea of a higher/supreme being, regardless of the particular name given in any one specific religion. It also conveys the idea of spirituality; while some people may not be religious, they may consider themselves spiritual, and a reference to this same word conveys a similar meaning.

This is why we can have "In God We Trust" on our money or "One nation under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance. It's vague enough to not be preaching/endorsing a specific religion, but still recognizing that there is a force greater than us in the Universe.

#102 Bad Wolf

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 10:51 AM

In response to Delvo and Lin:

Well, I don't recall anything in the constitution that requires individual freedom FROM religion.  It says that Congress shall pass no law establishing a religion.  Clearly it's about keeping the government out of endorsing religion.  Moreover, it's also clearly about protecting a person's right to practice their religion WITHOUT government interference.  

Second, I've never EVER been to any graduation ceremony where some speech or another didn't make me roll my eyes.  So what?  I can tune out.  The alternative is impinging on freedom of expression which is expressly provided for in the Constitution.

Allowing someone who has been a successful student to express her gratitude that her faith has helped her out need not constitute an endorsement of that person's beliefs (as I said previously).  But it's supposed to be a celebration of a fairly major accomplishment, and this young lady clearly believes that her faith played a major part in her success.  That she should express this in a speech designed to celebrate that success seems perfectly natural.

The religious clause in the Constitution has always been about balancing the individual's right to their beliefs (including expression of them) without running the risk of having religious beliefs become too entangled with public policy.  I'm sure your opinions differ and that's cool.  But in mine, the school missed the mark in it's "balancing" on this one.

Edited by Una Salus Lillius, 23 June 2006 - 10:52 AM.

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#103 Anastashia

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 11:51 AM

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 23 2006, 11:51 AM, said:

In response to Delvo and Lin:

Well, I don't recall anything in the constitution that requires individual freedom FROM religion.  It says that Congress shall pass no law establishing a religion.  Clearly it's about keeping the government out of endorsing religion.  Moreover, it's also clearly about protecting a person's right to practice their religion WITHOUT government interference.  

Second, I've never EVER been to any graduation ceremony where some speech or another didn't make me roll my eyes.  So what?  I can tune out.  The alternative is impinging on freedom of expression which is expressly provided for in the Constitution.

Allowing someone who has been a successful student to express her gratitude that her faith has helped her out need not constitute an endorsement of that person's beliefs (as I said previously).  But it's supposed to be a celebration of a fairly major accomplishment, and this young lady clearly believes that her faith played a major part in her success.  That she should express this in a speech designed to celebrate that success seems perfectly natural.

The religious clause in the Constitution has always been about balancing the individual's right to their beliefs (including expression of them) without running the risk of having religious beliefs become too entangled with public policy.  I'm sure your opinions differ and that's cool.  But in mine, the school missed the mark in it's "balancing" on this one.

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#104 Lin731

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 12:25 PM

Quote

Allowing someone who has been a successful student to express her gratitude that her faith has helped her out need not constitute an endorsement of that person's beliefs (as I said previously). But it's supposed to be a celebration of a fairly major accomplishment, and this young lady clearly believes that her faith played a major part in her success. That she should express this in a speech designed to celebrate that success seems perfectly natural.


It was my understanding this student went WELL beyond simply thanking God (which as I said, wasn't a big issue to me). There have been several instances of late where students have gone on to not only extoll their faith but have also attempted to "convert" the crowd about how they need to "get right with Jesus". Now I'm not Jewish but I'm thinking they might have more than an eyeroll for such comments. Graduation speech can and often are eye rollers but there's a difference between eye rolling High Schoolers words of wisdom and a sermon complete with an alter call.

http://www.reviewjou...ws/8014416.html

Quote

"I went through four years of school at Foothill and they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech," McComb said. "God's the biggest part of my life. Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my lord and savior."

In the 750-word unedited version of McComb's speech, she made two references to the lord, nine mentions of God and one mention of Christ.

In the version approved by school officials, six of those words were omitted along with two biblical references. Also deleted from her speech was a reference to God's love being so great that he gave his only son to suffer an excruciated death in order to cover everyone's shortcomings and forge a path to heaven.

Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada, had read the unedited version of McComb's speech and said district officials did the right thing by cutting McComb's speech short because her commentary promoted religion.

"There should be no controversy here," Lichtenstein said. "It's important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech."

Lichtenstein said that position was supported by two decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2000 and 2003.

Edited by Lin731, 23 June 2006 - 12:33 PM.

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#105 Delvo

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 01:26 PM

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 23 2006, 11:51 AM, said:

Clearly it's about keeping the government out of endorsing religion.
A public school is a part of the government. Allowing a preacher to preach at a school event is endorsing that preacher's religion.

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 23 2006, 11:51 AM, said:

The alternative is impinging on freedom of expression
No, it isn't. No such freedom was in any way interfered with to the slightest degree at all. The right to express herself does not equal the right to use a school event to compel others to listen and draft the school into representing her cause for her. Why do you and LotS keep trying to equate such completely unrelated things?

#106 Rhys

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 04:12 PM

View PostDelvo, on Jun 23 2006, 02:26 PM, said:

A public school is a part of the government. Allowing a preacher to preach at a school event is endorsing that preacher's religion.

Is teaching sex ed at school endorsing promiscuity?

Also, "endorsing" is not "making a law establishing".  As long as different religions are given opportunity, there shouldn't be a problem (in my opinion).

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#107 Themis

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 08:09 PM

View PostRhys, on Jun 23 2006, 09:12 PM, said:

Is teaching sex ed at school endorsing promiscuity?

Also, "endorsing" is not "making a law establishing".  As long as different religions are given opportunity, there shouldn't be a problem (in my opinion).

Rhys

Sex ed is teaching about with pros and cons, and is factl-based, not faith based. It's endorsing responsibility and knowledge.  People who may not have sex until or outside of marriage need the information as well as anyone else.

And different religions were NOT given opportunity in this case.  There was ONE valedictorian given the opportunity to speak.  She chose to talk about Christianity.  No Muslems, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, pagans, wiccans, worshippers of Zeus or atheists had the opportunity to speak at that graduation.  There was no more call for preaching her religion than there would have been for her yelling "fire" and causing a panic exit.

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#108 Bad Wolf

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 08:22 PM

View PostDelvo, on Jun 23 2006, 11:26 AM, said:

A public school is a part of the government. Allowing a preacher to preach at a school event is endorsing that preacher's religion.

This was a student of the school, not a preacher.  And btw, there was a preacher at my graduation from San Francisco STATE University which wasn't so long ago that I think laws have tightened up *that* much.  This was a student, a succesful one, who expressed her belief that her faith was a big part of her success.  And, like I said in my first post, if the school was *that* worried about violating the establishment clause, all they had to do was put a disclaimer in the program.  Instead they chose to take a *stand* which impinges not only on her freedom of expression (and I beg your pardon but it is well established that students at public schools DO have the right to express themselves), but arguably also on her freedom to express her religious beliefs.

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#109 Broph

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 09:05 PM

^Did your preacher talk about God and one particular religion, or did he talk about things like "the future" and "the real world"? A preacher can give a speech on more than just religion.

It's one thing for this student to say that faith helped her in school. It's another thing to say that Jesus died for our sins and created a path to Heaven. While it may be part of her faith, it shouldn't have been part of her graduation speech.

#110 Rhea

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 09:06 PM

View PostLin731, on Jun 23 2006, 07:50 AM, said:

Quote

Well my beliefs are irrelevant. But it seems to me that the school was trying to avoid the "Appearance" of endorsing "God". What they should have done was have a disclaimer in the graduation program to the effect that the opinions stated by any speaker at the ceremony do not reflect those of the school.

Problem solved without (wrongfull imho) impinging on the student's freedom of expression.

How does that "solve" the problem of having a captive audience stuck listening to a sermon at their childs graduation ceremony? It doesn't as a matter of fact. When I was in High School we didn't have the "rights" that you speak of. We couldn't just show up to class whenever, we couldn't blast music in the hallways, we couldn't dress however we pleased. Heck we had to have the options for our class song vetted, for Pete sake! We wanted Pink Floyd's Brick In The Wall but it was deemed an unacceptable choice.


Same here.
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#111 Bad Wolf

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 12:23 AM

View PostBroph, on Jun 23 2006, 07:05 PM, said:

^Did your preacher talk about God and one particular religion, or did he talk about things like "the future" and "the real world"? A preacher can give a speech on more than just religion.

It's one thing for this student to say that faith helped her in school. It's another thing to say that Jesus died for our sins and created a path to Heaven. While it may be part of her faith, it shouldn't have been part of her graduation speech.

Dude he even led us in a prayer.

And Delvo, where on earth did you get the idea that preaching to nonbelievers is somehow not allowed?  :o

As for "captive audiences" again, I ask, can anyone point out anything in the Constitution that prohibits someone from preaching his beliefs to someone who doesn't believe it UNLESS it is the same thing as government endorsement (which again, is easily solved with a simple disclaimer)???   Shall I sue BART for not prohibiting people from preaching near BART entrances just because I have to be exposed to it when I enter BART?  Doesn't make much sense does it.

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I mean at the beginning of dvds I constantly see disclaimers by the studio producing the dvd saying that the commentaries and views expressed in interviews do not reflect the views of the studio.
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#112 Broph

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 08:40 AM

^Wow, I'm surprised that he led a prayer. And I take it that nobody said anything?

I've seen at least 2 civil liberties lawyers talk about this case specifically. They talk about a school and a graduation ceremony being about the pertinent facts. They can say that Jimmy Jones graduates because he passed all his courses to the satisfaction of those in charge. But they can't say the same thing about Timmy Wilkins if Timmy Wilkins didn't pass English in his last year.

The valedictorian stated that she has faith. Nobody can dispute that but her; that's stating that she has a belief. In her speech, she started to talk about how Jesus was God's only son and that he gave his life to open a path to Heaven. Is that a fact? Can anyone prove it? If it's part of the speech, then the school is endorsing it - they're endorsing a particular religion that they can't prove to be fact.

You mention the people who preach outside the BART. Do you mean that they're on the sidewalk? Anyone can stand on the sidewalk and say whatever they want, as long as they don't bother people directly (i.e. no megaphones). The BART isn't an assembly; it's transportation from one place to another.

BTW, there are a couple of guys like that in Boston, too. Personally, I just wish they'd realize that they haven't changed a single person's mind and they should just move on with their lives.

#113 Delvo

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 09:35 AM

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 24 2006, 01:23 AM, said:

Delvo, where on earth did you get the idea that preaching to nonbelievers is somehow not allowed?  :o

You mean not allowed for a government entity, which is all I've said is a problem? For one thing, previous court cases have found that government entities are not to favor one religion over others or assert or imply that one religion is the government religion, like that Ten Commandments case in Louisianna; it amounted to a government statement of what its official religion was, and was a form of preaching at the public, so it had to go. Other government policies on things like hiring, contractor selection and signing, and distribution of licenses and permits have also been written to specify that religion is not to be an issue. So the need for a supposedly non-theocratic government to not sponsor religion or religious statements is not only plain old common sense, but also recognized by government actions in more ways than one.

Also, you're misplacing the burdens and freedoms here. First, the only freedom of the student's that can be seriously said to have been interfered with here is not the freedom of speech, but a different freedom which she doesn't actually have: the freedom to use someone else's stuff in a way that that other person or entity didn't agree to. The choice of how that stuff is to be used belongs to them, not her. Also, your phrasing about what the school should or should not be allowed to do implies that the school was not allowed to preach at the audience by some higher authority like the state's department of education. But that's not the case; the school chose not to do so, which means anyone objecting to this has to prove that the school is required to preach at graduation audiences. So where is the school administration's/staff's freedom to not be dragged into someone else's speech/expression against its will? Where is its obligation to serve as a religious conduit just because some zealot wants it to, its lack of freedom to refuse to allow itself to be used that way by a student who was already known to have violated their agreement (and out of whose mouth they had no way of knowing what might spill forth next, given that violation)?

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 24 2006, 01:23 AM, said:

can anyone point out anything in the Constitution that prohibits someone from preaching his beliefs to someone who doesn't believe it
That's one document. The government has produced a few more since then... particularly about limits on its own conduct that don't apply to private entities which you would appear to be speaking about in this quote... not that it matters in this case anyway, since the burden of proof is not on my side to prove that the microphone HAD to be turned off, but on your side to prove that they weren't ENTITLED to do so if they saw fit.

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 24 2006, 01:23 AM, said:

I mean at the beginning of dvds I constantly see disclaimers by the studio producing the dvd saying that the commentaries and views expressed in interviews do not reflect the views of the studio.
A DVD/movie/TV studio, book publisher, radio station, or billboard owner is in the business of publishing other people's words. A government isn't.

#114 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 02:24 PM

Sorry for the delay Delvo.  I've had a couple of *those* days.

Anyway:

The question of whether a public school is always a government entity for purposes of the Establishment Clause is not one that has been answered in black and white.  For example, we know that a public school cannot *require* their students to say prayer in class.  Nor is it enough to say that those who don't want to pray can abstain because they can then feel or be singled out for ridicule or abuse.  We also know that a public school generally (I'm not going to get into the exceptions or this post will never end) cannot *prevent* a student from expressing their views where the prohibition is based on the views' contents.  For example, if a school were to ban t-shirts that had pro-union logos but allow other t-shirts with logos, that would probably be prohibited.  OTOH if the school simply says that there are no t-shirts with logos allowed, then it's hard to object because it's not a content based prohibition.

In this case you argue that the school was acting as a government entity.  Reasonable minds may differ but in my view, the school *could have* insulated themselves from this argument by means of a disclaimer like I've mentioned.

  So what we have is a case that requires first answering the question of whether a school was in a position of taking "State Action" (because if it didn't then there's no standing for anyone to object) and if they were,  did the policy favoring the prohibition of speech based on its content outweigh the concerns about the Establishment clause sufficiently to justify the prohibition.

In this case, the school sought to prohibit speech based on its content:  the student's religious views.  This situation is not imho like the prayer in class situation because the school was not requiring anyone to pray (or open themselves to retaliation for not praying).  I'm sure the school would never tell anyone in the audience that they're not allowed to leave during the speech.  The graduating kids would not be required to *join* in the prayer or to agree with it.  In a situation like this, I believe that the school could have taken steps that didn't constitute the limitation of speech based on its content to address its concerns about running afoul of the Establishment Clause.  They didn't do that (afaik).  And if I were arguing the student's case I'd focus on the fact that there were less restrictive means available to the school to allay its concerns about the Establishment Clause.

I think I'd have a pretty good chance of winning the argument too but again that's just my opinion.

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#115 Bobby

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 03:06 PM

If a Satanist wanted to comment on how the dark lord of hell had been such a great influence on his life would that be okay?   A Satanist might be just as passionate about his faith as this girl was about her own.  

The school did the right thing.

Edited by Caesar of the Stars, 25 June 2006 - 03:07 PM.


#116 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 04:33 PM

It would depend upon whether the legislature or the courts have classified Satanism as a some form of expression (like lewd and lascivious) that is accorded less (or no) protection.

If not it would still be content based and I would say no the school would be wrong.

Lil
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#117 Delvo

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 05:36 PM

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 25 2006, 03:24 PM, said:

The question of whether a public school is always a government entity for purposes of the Establishment Clause is not one that has been answered in black and white.
If it is a government entity, then it isn't allowed to be used in the endorsement of a religion like this. If it isn't one, it still isn't required to do so; free speech of private entities means it can choose whether or not to let itself be used as an instrument of someone else's speech, just like a billboard owner is free to decide what other people or companies (s)he will allow to put an ad on his/her billboard. Either way, there's no requirement that it must allow someone else to take it over for use for his/her/their speech as this graduate tried to do.

View PostUna Salus Lillius, on Jun 25 2006, 03:24 PM, said:

In this case, the school sought to prohibit speech based on its content
Not prohibit; just refuse to be a part of. They're not the same thing.



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