The ACLU claims to support freedom (religious and otherwise), and in the past has advocated on behalf of jihadists, the Westboro homophobic hate-mongers, and child pornography, and opposed a bill that would require all employees of abortion mills to report suspected cases of sexual abuse. Land of the free, baby!
ACLU’s website states:
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right that is guaranteed by the First Amendment's Free Exercise and Establishment clauses. It encompasses not only the right to believe (or not to believe), but also the right to express and to manifest religious beliefs.
Unless expressing said religious freedom is in the form of a prayer meeting on school grounds, held outside of school hours, and is open to all and optional to attend.
A Baltimore public school is experiencing the wrath of the ACLU after inviting students, parents, and teachers to attend an optional Saturday morning meeting to pray for the students to pass their upcoming standardized tests. Principal Jael Yon of Tench Tilghman Elementary/Middle School was asked by parents to hold Saturday classes and the prayer meeting in preparation for the Maryland School Assessments. In an attempt to serve the needs of her students, this “exceptional principal” made it happen.
The ACLU claims that this is a clear violation of the Constitution, which prohibits organized prayer in public school settings. I don’t remember that part of the Constitution ... it must be next to the Right to Privacy. Nevertheless, the courts have ruled upon it and banned teachers from praying with their students, even if they share the same faith and are in an optional enrichment class outside of school hours.
This is not an imposition of religion on anyone. The classes were not limited to Christians, or even only to those that attended the prayer meeting. Unless someone can produce some evidence for me proving that Principal Yon denied a request from Muslim/Jewish/Buddhist/insert-religion-of-choice parents requesting she organize a prayer meeting for them, I don’t see what the big deal is.
If it's such a big deal, I have a simple solution: School vouchers. Let the parents decide where their children should be educated. Let them find schools that are better tailored to their family’s needs and desires. Our one-size-fits-all approach to education is not working.
School choice works. Let the parents, not zip codes, determine where their children will learn. When families can pick the educational environment best for their children, the ACLU can spend its resources in better ways than attacking a principal trying to accommodate parents’ wishes and promote school morale.
Photo via Glenna Barlow/Flickr