December 14, 2010

There is a Time and Place for Everything

By Francis Nye & Lilly Winters

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to dismiss a lawsuit accusing two elementary school principals in Texas of violating the Constitution by barring students from swapping religious gifts, including Christian-themed candy-cane pens.

The federal appeals court in New Orleans rejected a bid by principals Lynn Swanson and Jackie Bomchill to have the religious discrimination claims against them dismissed on the basis of qualified immunity.

Swanson and Bomchill argued that the First Amendment does not apply to elementary school students, but the 5th Circuit found otherwise.

The families of four students in the Plano Independent School District sued after their children were barred from distributing religious-themed items as part of a goodie bag exchange during winter break parties.

Some of the banned goods included pens shaped like candy canes that came with a card explaining the "Legend of the Candy Cane." Some Christians believe the "J" shape of a candy cane stands for "Jesus" or the staff of the "good shepherd," and the three stripes symbolize Jesus' blood or the Trinity. Another student was blocked from handing out pencils with the inscription, "Jesus is the reason for the season."

I agree that there maybe a 1st amendment free speech issue here. I also agree that they may have a right to express their points of view at school. But the real question is, should they? Is this really a good thing to do? One must remember that this is a double edged sword and it can cut both ways. Would it be ok for Jews to hand out symbols and literature? How about Muslims? Wicca? Atheists?

The real topic here the way I see it is etiquette. Just because a person can do something doesn’t mean that they should. Sometimes it is just offensive or uncivilized to do so.

I think some places should be off limits like an elementary school. We don’t need the court or a law to spell this out. What we need is just common courtesy and respect for others. I know I don’t want my children exposed to Christianity. If I did I would take them to Sunday school and we would attend church services on a regular basis. I would also read them the bible and enroll them in a Christian school. But since I don’t want them exposed to what I perceive as a cult I do not do these things. I want my children to be safe from this nonsense and so do many other parents.

I learned along time ago that there is a proper time and place for everything. Pubic schools are not the time or place for religious teachings or indoctrination. How would Christians feel if their children were constantly bombarded with Wicca teachings and practices at the public school they have their child enrolled in? I tell you how. Most would be outraged. Just as I am outraged that Christianity is constantly and consistently forced feed to my children in all places at all times.

Christians tend to forget that they are not the only game in town. And just as they don’t want their children exposed to the teachings of a foreign religion, so other parents do not want Christianity exposed to their children. It is just rude and in poor taste to act otherwise. We all need to be respectful of everyone around us. It is time that Christians stop being so incentive to everyone around them.

So I propose that in the spirit of good will toward all men this holiday season shouldn’t this group of Christians dismiss their law suit and start acting like civilized people by respecting others? After all the school is just asking them to value others and keep their point of view to themselves when attending their institution. I think that is a very reasonable position. They are not asking them to stop believing in their brand of faith or even forcing them to set aside their faith in lieu of another. They are just asking them to stop and think about how off-putting their message may be. That there is a proper place and time for all things and school is not the correct forum for this type of content. After all they spent all that money on a church, they should use it for that purpose. I know that Jesus said go out and spread the word but really, he didn’t say do to the point of ad-nauseum. Tell me what you think.

A video on just how offensive some Christians can be:

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