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The American Patriot Alliance was recently notified that a school in Seattle, Washington violated the religious rights and freedoms of its Christian students by renaming an annual Easter event, ‘The Easter Egg Hunt’, to “The Spring Sphere Hunt” in order NOT to offend anyone whose religious/anti-religious beliefs may feel threatened. What they DID, in fact, was offend the numerous Christian students and parents who attend the school.
As I have pointed out in previous writings, the United States Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that religious activities, events or prayer are prohibited in public schools. In turn, we have written to the Seattle legal counsel to demand they cease and desist with this attack against Christians. The letter follows…
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Seattle Public Schools
Mail Stop 32-151
PO Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165
I was extremely dismayed to hear recently that one of your schools decided that in the interest of “political correctness” and in an attempt NOT to “offend anyone”, they chose to change the name of the annual Easter Egg Hunt to the Spring Sphere Festival. Really? Just a few questions concerning this ignorant, ill-informed and uneducated decision enforced by the same individuals employed to “educate” our children…
1. Any consideration as to how this might OFFEND Christians? Of course not.
2. Any consideration as to what is TRULY the Supreme Court of the United States’ opinions on religious activity at public schools? Of course not.
3. Would you DARE consider renaming an Islamic/Hispanic/Foreign cultural event in the same manner that you have utterly and despicably disrespected those of the Christian faith? Of course NOT!
So… let’s do this in all fairness to EVERYONE involved:
I have no idea what law school you may have attended nor how long you have held your license, but it is evident that you obviously either were NOT in attendance during any discussion/debate/lecture over the Establishment clause (FYI, its in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States). So, as I feel it is my obligation to ensure that you have adequate knowledge about SCOTUS rulings on the Establishment Clause, let me begin with a sampler course in History on Christian values, beliefs and traditions.
Easter is a tradition which celebrates the resurrection and victory over eternal death by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the One and Only Son of an ever living, loving and compassionate GOD… a REAL God, NOT a murderous, repressive, abusive entity created by a disgusting, pedophiliac ‘prophet’ whose answer to non-compliance is DEATH. In fact, of the hundreds of names given to their “god” ALLAH, not a SINGLE ONE can be translated into LOVE. Trust me on this one. OK, I’ve gotten off track…
So, having been tried for ‘subversion’ by the Romans after allegations of blasphemy by the Jewish hierarchy, Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion… one of the most torturous and painful methods of murder known to the Romans. But ya know what Noel? All it would have taken for Jesus to avoid this sacrifice would have been to denounce his beliefs and repent. He didn’t do it. So for three days after His death, Jesus descended into the pits of Hell, returning in His resurrection on Easter to break the chains of bondage that we as humans had been shackled with due to our own selfish, vain, and immoral lifestyle. He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, a legal advocate between us and the Holy Father.
And ya know what’s REALLY interesting Noel, if it hadn’t been for Easter, two things would be glaringly different… there would be NO Christmas, and YOUR NAME would have NO special meaning, other than a two-syllable way inwhich to refer to you.
But I digress. We Christians, as well as atheists and others, understand clearly that Easter is NOT the specific date on which Jesus rose from the grave. That’s understood. If it were, we’d have Easter on the same day every year. The Spring Solstice is a festival of fertility and RESURRCTION named after the Pagan goddess, Ishtar, the chick who was really fertile, supposedly. However it is, it became EASTER, the most revered Christian event in history, equaled only by the Birth of Christ.
So in their attempt NOT to offend anyone, which appears to be the politically correct and subversive thing to do these days, unless of course it involves CHRISTIANS, they have succeeded only IN OFFENDING Christians. See how that works? So now that our lesson in HISTORY is over, let’s move on to GOVERNMENT…
Is it still acceptable to have religious celebrations/observances in public schools? Is it still kosher to say “Merry Christmas” during schools hours? Is it a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution for students to distribute literature or participate in religious-themed activities during the normal hours in which a school is in session? These are just some of the questions that seem to surface every year during what are traditionally Christian celebrations. Too often, the answers come from individuals or groups who are either misinformed about the Constitutional rights of Americans to express their religious beliefs, or by those who are HOSTILE to any form of religious expression or freedom.
These events, however, have been clouded in recent years by misconceptions and controversies concerning the legality of many Christian events. School calendars that once announced “Christmas Vacation” now read “Winter Vacation,” and religiously-themed events such as EASTER EGG HUNT have been replaced with activities like “SPRING SPHERE HUNT.” (Is an EGG really a SPHERE? Just asking)
But these massive, mainstream efforts to suppress Christian celebrations demonstrate that many public officials and EDUCATORS mistakenly believe that allowing seasonal religious expressions on public property would violate the so-called “separation of church and state”– a mantra often cited in reference to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. (But you and I both, Noel, know that NOWHERE in the Constitution is separation of Church and State, similar to theocratic ISLAM, where there is absolutely NO separation of Mosque and State, but I won’t go there on either issue. For more on that, see “A Separation of Church & State: The Case of Thomas Jefferson“). Some public officials and educators are merely misinformed; others have purposefully sought to eradicate the celebration, observance, or even the acknowledgment of the religious origins of Easter & Christmas from the public square and schools. But the Establishment Clause is NOT a tool to root out religious expression. It merely requires the state to be neutral on its relations with religious believers and nonbelievers, not to act as their adversary. IN FACT, the Constitution “affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions and FORBIDS hostility toward ANY.” As Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote in Everson vs Board of Education, “State power is no more to be used so as to handicap religions than it is to favor them.” As early as 1833, Justice Joseph Story reminded government officials that the First Amendment prohibited them from treating religion with hostility and indifference:
“At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it, in general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation… But the duty of supporting religion, and especially the Christian religion, is very different from the right to FORCE the consciences of other men, or to punish them for worshiping God in the manner, which, they believe, their accountability to him requires…”
The Founding Fathers (I know, most people hate them, and their brilliance) in framing the Constitution, established a boundary between religion and government to prevent the government from creating a state denomination, NOT to eradicate religious acknowledgment, tradition and expression from public life. I am, for the sake of time, going to skip the SCOTUS’s decisions upholding free speech rights involving religious expression during normal school hours, in which they determined that “students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” which still apply “when [they are] in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during authorized hours…” School officials many only restrict student speech that creates a substantial and material disruption to the school’s ability to fulfill its educational goals. But MERE FEAR or apprehension of a disruption IS NOT sufficient to enable the school to prohibit speech. (McGowan v Maryland)
With regards to activity, SCOTUS currently uses Lemon v Kurtzman to review Establishment Clause claims and to determine “whether the challenged law or conduct has a secular purpose, whether its principle or primary effect is to advance or INHIBIT religion, and whether it creates an excessive entanglement of government with religion.”
In their rulings, the Supreme Court has ruled consistently that religious-themed activities are PERMISSIBLE, such as allowing Christmas carols to be sung by individual students or by a group of students during school activities such as choir, Christmas programs and other (Easter egg hunts) events. Although challenges have been brought, public schools have successfully defended against constitutional challenges to the singing of Christmas carols by their students (Again McGowen v Maryland). And in doing so, the Court also ruled as well, that students MAY choose to opt out of these activities if they conflict with the individuals beliefs of the students or their parents. When the religious activity does NOT violate the Establishment Clause, as explained above, the school is NOT required to PROHIBIT the activity even though it creates conflict with some students. Schools may not FORCE “any person to participate in an activity that offends his religious or NON-religious beliefs.” If a student has an objection to some school activity containing religion (e.g. a school concert containing a religious song, and Easter egg hunt, or a field trip to a museum containing religious art), he cannot censor the expression or block the activity. The Constitution permits a student to opt OUT of participation but NOT silence others.
Although the Lemon Test, the endorsement test, and time-based factors provide a measure of guidance for lower courts, inconsistent decisions reached by some lower courts and misinformation from anti-religious groups have caused confusion concerning governmental exhibition of religious displays, activities and speech in and around government building, schools and property. The Constitution, however, does NOT require government and public officials to obliterate religious observances and express from public schools or the public square.
In conclusion, the school’s decision to rename a Christian activity for the sake of NOT offending anyone, has in fact, done just that. I would strongly suggest Noel that you immediately inform the members of the Seattle-area schools of this information, because I fear the next time this occurs under the guise of “political correctness”, you will not receive a “letter”, but rather a court summons to defend your positions regarding such a BLATANT disregard for the Constitutional rights of your CHRISTIAN students.
May God bless you with wisdom, guidance and action in this matter.
Sincerely in Christ,
Robert P. Dean,
Founder, The American Patriot Alliance
Christian. American. Marine. Patriot.