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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Free Speech for Jesus

Anyone who sees the links section of this page knows I am a strong supporter or free speech. I believe that this country is what it is because we can say pretty much anything we want, and as a future educator, I want that right to extend to our students. This is especially true for the ones that are advocating at the top of their lungs that which I would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of mine. For example, a fourth grade student in New York just won a lawsuit in which she claimed her school system violated her free speech. Evidently, she wanted to hand out some fliers about the Son of God and the school thought that was probably a bad idea. I am an outspoken atheist, who was forced to endure living in the Bible Belt for most of my life. I was required to attend Baccalaureate ceremonies for a grade in choir. I had to break through gargantuan prayer circles to get to class. I was disappointed when the Indigo Girls, after agreeing to perform live at our school, were told by the administration that they were not deemed appropriate after protest from the local Baptist Church. I share all this so that when I say that I agree whole-heartedly with this verdict that you understand my commitment to civil liberties.

The line between church and state must be firm; the line between religion and politics and education doesn't exist. Faith is part of our culture, and as much as I wish it gone, it is a profoundly important part of the lives of most Americans. It is so important that the want to shout it from the rooftops, or in absence of a rooftop, distribute some snazzy fliers. This is their constitutional right, and it doesn't end at the schoolhouse door. And the great thing about those rights is that we all have them. So if another student, say, wanted to print up fliers saying that Jesus probably never existed and that the entire history of Christianity is a sham which continues to pollute our society today and into the future, well then that's fine, too. (But they probably ought to pick a really slick font and some fancy-ass paper, because that's going to be a tough message to sell to most.)

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