The Widdershins

Archive for March 29th, 2012

Romans 8:31
If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Welcome (again) to the Sunshine State, where the hits just keep on rolling.  Our latest misadventure/claim to infamy is at least (so far) bloodless:  we have legislated prayer in public schools, and our Governor – America’s fiftieth best by actual polling – plans to sign it into law within the week.

Our state legislature does not consider this measure to be contrary to the First Amendment in any way, shape, form, or fashion.  Seems that they consider this to be just fine and dandy as they have authorized student-led “inspirational messages” which, shucks, just may take the form of  “non-denominational, non-proselytizing prayer”, but it’s actually just your basic inspirational message.  During the debate, one legislator inquired as to what would occur if a student decided to read the Aryan Satanic Manifesto in school, and was advised that the schools would monitor for inappropriate material.  Therein lies the proverbial, nonsectarian, non-proselytizing rub.

If I thought for so much as a Florida minute that the plan were actually to share thoughts of inspiration, I would not mind that plan a bit.  Read Kipling, declaim from Mildred Porter, discuss the lives of Amelia Earhart and Sir Edmund Hillary – every bit inspirational.  Let the students take turns un home room, one each day, discussing what inspires them.  I don’t even care if they wish to discuss the peace and tranquility that religion brings them, as long as everyone gets his or her turn while the others listen respectfully.  As far as before sporting events there’s always the Gipper speech, which has absolutely inspired generations of Americans.

Back in 2008, the Santa Rosa county school systems went all the way with religious studies in their classrooms, encouraged by an official who was a deacon in his church.  The ACLU sued on behalf of two students and won – hands down – leaving Santa Rosa county half a million dollars in debt with legal fees.  After the Santa Rosa debacle, the schools were free to offer a period of silence, which, in my opinion,  is the best possible compromise.

The Florida legislature has been most emphatic that any of the other 66  districts are on their own if sued.  This may actually temper the roll out, especially down here.  We have a large enough concentration of Jewish people here that teachers’ workdays tend to fall on Jewish holidays.  We also have a significant representation of religions not commonly found  in either the northern part of the state or the Panhandle.  Frankly, I would actually arrive early and sit in the front row to watch a tiny vouderine or a santero in training deliver their style of invocations.  That would be absolutely worth the price of admission.  I really couldn’t care less what sport were to be played – it could be 43 man squamish as far as I’m concerned.   Besides voodoo and santría, we also have people of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths.  Can you imagine a Buddhist child leading us in silence? A little Rastafarian wailing Bob Marley tunes? I could go on and on…………….

Many think that this is a red-meaty bone being tossed to the faithful by our legislature.  I’m not so certain.  I am really afraid that there are any number of representatives who feel that their freedom to practice their religion absolutely supersedes their rest of our freedom to not, and that God is on their sides.  That said, I’m pretty confident that the courts will not be. In the meantime, y’all enjoy the gospel music.

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