Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sauce for the Goose

Some teachers in the Albemarle School District in Virginia are rebelling against their managers' orders to hand out to students as young as kindergarten a promotion for a summer camp that advocates a non-theist worldview. The teachers are refusing to hand out the fliers, even though this is the same school district that hands out school-board sanctioned religiously-themed flyers.

This whole hoo-ha has previously resulted in a lawsuit that demanded the right to hand out specifically christian-themed information. Following a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Maryland in response to the lawsuit, the school board must allow all non-profit organizations (Boy scouts, the YMCA, church groups, etc) to have their information sent home with children through the school. It's a convenient way to get info to kids and families.

But you know what? Now that a group wants to hand out flyers that the school board doesn't like, the same people are claiming that it's oppression and offense against Christians.

"They do put a disclaimer there, that the school doesn't' support it, [as they do for all documents]" the representative said. "But we are expected to send this stuff home in childrens' backpacks. It's still coming from me and my classroom."

"I took a stand and did not send it home," the representative said. "Other teachers did the same thing."

So, the teachers are not going to distribute this paricular flyer because they disagree with it. They didn't seem to worry much about offending anyone else's beliefs when they handed out christian flyers, did they? You can't have it both ways.

I have no problem with sending out either flyer. Churches have myriad community programs and information that is valuable. So do non-church groups. If the school is being used as a vehicle to send out "community info" then all groups should have fair access.

Sending these flyers home is a normal part of the school function, btw. Mostly they are for after-school programs, or scouts, or other community offerings -- including religious organizations. But apparently, people want a double-standard here. One standard for 'things we like and approve of" and another for "things we don't like and don't approve of". The school board has a responsbility to make sure that the flyers are from valid non-profit organizations in the community -- so no specious strawmen that 'so...you'd let KKK members hand out flyers?', please -- but they are specifically even-handed about it (based on a court decision!)

From Notes on the Culture war:
Gee, do Christians object to handing our flyers promoting non-Christian events?
Funny, you weren't concerned about how handing out flyers for Christian camps might "violate the teachers' religious beliefs" if those teachers were Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, when that was the case, all the talk was about how unfair it was for them to refuse to hand out such flyers. Ain't it funny how the attitude changes when the shoe's on the other foot? When Christians do it, it's a brave fight for religious freedom; when non-Christians do the same thing, it's obviously anti-Christian oppression. Quite convenient, that.

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