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Thread: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

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    Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    http://www.npr.org/2012/02/14/146538...awsuit?sc=emaf

    So a girl in Rhode Island sued her (public) school because it had a school prayer on the wall, which made her feel alienated since she's an atheist.

    A federal judge ordered the prayer taken down, but the girl has been viciously attacked. People have sent her death threats and her state representative even called her evil.

    This is happening in America in 2012.
    "Have killed many, Shepard. Many methods. Gunfire, knives, drugs, tech attacks, once with farming equipment. But not with medicine." Mordin Solus, Mass Effect 2


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    It's a shotgun opera and the fat lady is singing tonight Forum Veteran Eruedraith's Avatar
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Way to go, Christian America, still proving that we can persecute with the best of them.

    While I think that this girl is overreacting, really, if this is how Christianity is going to react, then we shouldn't have our prayers up anyways.

    Makes me sick to think that a religion based around loving other people has these sorts of tenants.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    ...
    ...
    ...Really?

    This is just an idiotic move. Do people think that opposing the federal court and calling someone evil (practically calling them a demon) is going to help Christianity?

    Another excellent example of overreaction from both sides of a case.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Eruedraith View Post
    While I think that this girl is overreacting, really, if this is how Christianity is going to react, then we shouldn't have our prayers up anyways.
    Considering that this is a public school and public school prayers were ruled unconstitutional fifty years ago, I don't think it's really overreacting to ask the school to follow the law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meta-Mind
    Another excellent example of overreaction from both sides of a case.
    Both sides? What has the girl's side done wrong?
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    Considering that this is a public school and public school prayers were ruled unconstitutional fifty years ago, I don't think it's really overreacting to ask the school to follow the law.
    Was it? Damn, I need to do some more research.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Eruedraith View Post
    Was it? Damn, I need to do some more research.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engel_v._Vitale

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abingto...ict_v._Schempp

    Private schools can pray as much as they want, but since public schools are a part of the government, they can't be involved with religion even if a prayer uses generic terms for God.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Well if the school doesn't require the students to say the prayer (the article doesn't say if it's just there or if it has to be recited like the Pledge of Allegiance), then is it really unconstitutional? It certainly alienates those who don't believe in a heavenly Father, but alienation in schools for all sorts of things are, sadly, very real (cliques and the sort).
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Elfice View Post
    Well if the school doesn't require the students to say the prayer (the article doesn't say if it's just there or if it has to be recited like the Pledge of Allegiance), then is it really unconstitutional? It certainly alienates those who don't believe in a heavenly Father, but alienation in schools for all sorts of things are, sadly, very real (cliques and the sort).
    Those were just a couple cases, but the real precedent is a little more nuanced. Even if you can argue that it's technically okay under the other cases I cited, I can't imagine the school prayer banner passing the Lemon test.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Hmm...I suppose that banner could fail the second part of the Lemon test...by saying heavenly Father, it promotes monotheistic religions, specifically Christianity, as well as Judaism and Islam.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    they can't be involved with religion even if a prayer uses generic terms for God.
    I just realized this:
    One nation, under God
    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    they can't be involved with religion even if a prayer uses generic terms for God.
    CONTRADICTION!

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Hey, this was bothering me earlier, so could someone clarify for me?

    Doesn't abolishing references to religion in schools* promote atheism, which is a religious stance?

    *I mean references like this prayer and the like, not historical references

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    If by 'atheism' you mean denying that God exists or denying that we can know about God, they aren't promoting that view. To promote that view would be to put up banners saying "God is a lie", etc.

    If by 'atheism' you mean neutrality about religion, that's the official religious stance of the US government.

    Either way they are right to ban religious endorsements from the walls of public classrooms.
    Last edited by shiny stone; February 16th, 2012 at 05:51 PM.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Ugh... This is a mess in so many ways, I barely know where to begin...

    Prayers in schools is kind of a tricky issue. I've always thought that the stance that it's unconstitutional is wrong (at least partially). The first amendment says that the government (and by extension, public schools) can't enforce any religion, but it also says they can't prohibit people from exercising their religion. (Normally I bring this up when people say "students aren't allowed to pray in public schools", but I know this issue is a little different.) Hanging a prayer on a wall when no one is forced to pray it? I could see that getting by. Putting up a prayer specific to one religion on a banner and calling it official to the school? I can see where that's more controversial.

    I don't really feel like schools should be forced into complete neutrality because there tends to be a thin line between that and enforcing atheism. If a teacher says to his students, "I like to pray in the mornings, and anyone who'd like to join me is welcome to come by my desk before class starts", should someone be allowed to take legal action against the school for that?

    Back to the issue at hand, though. If she was put off by that banner or feeling alienated, I've got nothing against her saying something about it. From what I can tell, it's a fairly large school, but they should (ideally) be able to listen to a complaint like that and take it seriously. A law suit seems a little extreme to me, like something that should be more of a last resort (and isn't it lovely how the article doesn't say if she tried anything else first?). Plus, as the article states, the message in the prayer is fairly inspiring.

    Now all of that said, the reaction by the people opposed to the lawsuit is about 10 times worse. I think it's been mentioned well enough how hypocritical it is to react with that amount of hate, so I'll just hit the high points.


    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Palumbo
    "What an evil little thing. Poor thing," he told local talk radio station WPRO. "And it's not her fault. She's being ... trained to be like that."
    Totally not shooting himself in the foot or begging people to say the same thing about him, am I right?

    Quote Originally Posted by The article
    Many Cranston residents protested the idea of changing what has been part of the high school since the early '60s.
    Tradition is something I respect (so long as it isn't pointless and harmful), so this is something I would take into consideration. Kind of going along with what I said before, if the school is neutral but the majority of the city is all for having something like that banner, why not? (This particular city probably doesn't deserve it if this is how they react when someone speaks up against it, but it is something I would normally take into consideration.)

    Death threats are definitely going way overboard. I hate to think about what it says that those students took to internet hate like it was such an acceptable thing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    This is happening in America in 2012.
    If anyone ever wonders why I don't think America is the greatest country in the world, here's an example.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Meta-Mind View Post
    CONTRADICTION!
    I think the main difference between the pledge of allegiance and the official school prayer is that the pledge isn't religious. It's a way of expressing your allegiance to this country. You don't even have to say it if you don't want to. This prayer, though, hung in the school for all to see and was very clear about being directed at God and Christianity.

    For the issue at hand, I basically think that that girl is being treated extremely unfairly. The school environment was making her uncomfortable, so she decides to do something about it and people think it's a reason to kill her. And calling her "evil" and that she's "trained to be like that"? She's not a misbehaving dog that needs to be put in its place, Mr. State Representative. She's a person that has views of her own that need to be respected. I think taking the whole prayer down is a bit of overkill, though. All the school needs to do is take out the "Our Heavenly Father" and "Amen", and modify the prayer itself to be more of a mission statement. The people against taking the prayer down are completely overreacting and showcasing just how intolerant America can still be.

    As for prayer in schools, I think having a moment of silence in the mornings is the best thing to do. With a moment of silence, you can pray if you want in any religion you want, or you can honor the dead, or you can just think about whatever. With a moment of silence, the government wouldn't be supporting any religion or prohibiting any religion. What you do with the moment of silence is entirely up to you, and if you want to pray, go for it. It's honestly the best solution and the one that wouldn't cause uproar everywhere.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by charigaara View Post
    I think the main difference between the pledge of allegiance and the official school prayer is that the pledge isn't religious.
    So the phrase "under God" is not a religious statement? Then what is?

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    "One nation, under God" was actually added to the pledge during the Cold War. The original pledge made no such mention. In my opinion, that's unconstitutional too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eruedraith View Post
    Hey, this was bothering me earlier, so could someone clarify for me?

    Doesn't abolishing references to religion in schools* promote atheism, which is a religious stance?

    *I mean references like this prayer and the like, not historical references
    No, it doesn't. Atheism would be the government actually saying that religion is false.

    The government's stance on religion should be "No comment", because we're a nation of members of every faith, and all of those people pay taxes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Gold View Post
    Ugh... This is a mess in so many ways, I barely know where to begin...

    Prayers in schools is kind of a tricky issue. I've always thought that the stance that it's unconstitutional is wrong (at least partially). The first amendment says that the government (and by extension, public schools) can't enforce any religion, but it also says they can't prohibit people from exercising their religion. (Normally I bring this up when people say "students aren't allowed to pray in public schools", but I know this issue is a little different.) Hanging a prayer on a wall when no one is forced to pray it? I could see that getting by. Putting up a prayer specific to one religion on a banner and calling it official to the school? I can see where that's more controversial.

    I don't really feel like schools should be forced into complete neutrality because there tends to be a thin line between that and enforcing atheism. If a teacher says to his students, "I like to pray in the mornings, and anyone who'd like to join me is welcome to come by my desk before class starts", should someone be allowed to take legal action against the school for that?

    Back to the issue at hand, though. If she was put off by that banner or feeling alienated, I've got nothing against her saying something about it. From what I can tell, it's a fairly large school, but they should (ideally) be able to listen to a complaint like that and take it seriously. A law suit seems a little extreme to me, like something that should be more of a last resort (and isn't it lovely how the article doesn't say if she tried anything else first?). Plus, as the article states, the message in the prayer is fairly inspiring.

    Now all of that said, the reaction by the people opposed to the lawsuit is about 10 times worse. I think it's been mentioned well enough how hypocritical it is to react with that amount of hate, so I'll just hit the high points.




    Totally not shooting himself in the foot or begging people to say the same thing about him, am I right?



    Tradition is something I respect (so long as it isn't pointless and harmful), so this is something I would take into consideration. Kind of going along with what I said before, if the school is neutral but the majority of the city is all for having something like that banner, why not? (This particular city probably doesn't deserve it if this is how they react when someone speaks up against it, but it is something I would normally take into consideration.)

    Death threats are definitely going way overboard. I hate to think about what it says that those students took to internet hate like it was such an acceptable thing.




    If anyone ever wonders why I don't think America is the greatest country in the world, here's an example.
    The First Amendment does NOT just say that government can't enforce a religion. What it actually says is:

    Quote Originally Posted by First Amendment
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    Congress cannot make any law respecting an establishment of religion. Religion is supposed to not be involved in the government. Either way though, this has been the Supreme Court's ruling for fifty years, and the Supreme Court's interpretation is the legally binding one.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    Congress cannot make any law respecting an establishment of religion. Religion is supposed to not be involved in the government.
    Having a prayer up in a school is not a law, it's part of the free exercise of religion (which the first amendment is supposed to protect the free exercise of).

    The government should say "no comment" to taking it down.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaurshotgun View Post
    Having a prayer up in a school is not a law, it's part of the free exercise of religion (which the first amendment is supposed to protect the free exercise of).

    The government should say "no comment" to taking it down.
    This is not a personal exercise of religion. This is a government agency outright supporting religion. This is not a private school, this is a part of the government.

    Government agencies do not have free exercise of religion, they are legally required to be neutral to religion.

    How can a school prayer pass the lemon test?
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    This is not a personal exercise of religion. This is a government agency outright supporting religion. This is not a private school, this is a part of the government.

    Government agencies do not have free exercise of religion, they are legally required to be neutral to religion.

    How can a school prayer pass the lemon test?
    The Lemon Test is the court's interpretation of the first amendment. Regardless of whether it is good or bad for the country, I believe it actually goes outside of the intent (and wording) of the first amendment.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Wow. Receiving death threats for complaining about a prayer on the wall of a public school in a so-called "free" and "democratic" country is just hypocritical at best.

    In Canada, the national anthem has the line "God keep our land, glorious and free" and yes, students in public school are expected to sing that part (though, students can simply stand up and stay silent during the playing of the anthem). Fortunately, there have not been death threats over the revision of that line in Canadian public schools. Being a secular atheist for religious tolerance, if a Christian prayer is allowed, then every religion's prayers must be allowed, as well as something to acknowledge atheists, which is simply a moment of silence, in any country.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaurshotgun View Post
    The Lemon Test is the court's interpretation of the first amendment. Regardless of whether it is positive or negative, I believe it actually goes outside of the intent (and wording) of the first amendment.
    The Lemon Test is the legally binding interpretation of the first amendment. Their interpretation of the Constitution essentially is the Constitution legally.

    The intent of the first amendment was to establish a separation between church and state. It was to prevent government from imposing religion onto people. The document does not actually say "separation of church and state", but the concept was the intention of the amendment.

    It says Congress shall make no law in respect to a religion, and any reading of this that isn't incredibly based on a technicality says that this means the government should be religiously neutral. How can the government officially endorse a religion through school prayer, but not make a law in respect to a religion?

    Let me ask you something, would it be Constitutional to have a school have a poster that says "God does not exist, so we should make the best of our lives while we can"?
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    Let me ask you something, would it be Constitutional to have a school have a poster that says "God does not exist, so we should make the best of our lives while we can"?
    I'm not sure something like that should be illegal, actually. I can also see complaints outside of the law being made against it without actually suing the school.

    But then again I'm not too keen on a heavily government-standardized school in the first place.

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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaurshotgun View Post
    I'm not sure something like that should be illegal, actually. I can also see complaints outside of the law being made against it without actually suing the school.

    But then again I'm not too keen on a heavily government-standardized school in the first place.
    That's a consistent view, though I'm surprised to hear that you'd be fine with a part of the government endorsing religious views contrary to yours to children.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    I'm just going to take an outside view from this, but the prayer says that they should be kind to other classmates. because four words are removed from it, does that mean the rest of it is now redundant?

    what I find from this sort of thing is that so many people lack critical thinking. I think that four words should not be anything to make that big a fuss about, for both the atheist side and the catholic side. I mean for &&&&'s sake, it's like the christians are completely missing the point of christianity.
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    Re: Student sues school over official prayer, receives death threats

    Yet another frivolous lawsuit... and yet another frivolous response to a frivolous lawsuit. Both parties here were a little... how do I put this nicely?

    Tempermental.

    Religion is a touchy topic, for obvious reasons. A public school putting up a prayer? I'd be worried about that, but really more because it's not really taking religion seriously.

    How can an atheist pray? An atheist is, by definition, someone who denies any existence of any sort of deity. You can't pray to something that you don't believe exists. If you are, then you're treating it like some sort of game.

    Case in point:

    "It's freedom of speech. I really don't feel as if there's a concern with it. It's not religious in any way at all," Palumbo says. "I mean, the banner has been up there since my mother went there."



    But seriously, a lawsuit?

    Tell them to take it down, but don't bring the law into the picture if you can solve the problem yourself. (Which they likely could have.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaurshotgun View Post
    I can also see complaints outside of the law being made against it without actually suing the school.
    Shotgun knows what he's talking about.
    Last edited by Madmachine; February 18th, 2012 at 12:45 PM.

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