Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Idaho says no to religious books in the classroom

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles TimesI don't know what the religious right spends on public relations, but some school officials are doing their work for them -- by earnestly overinterpreting legal restrictions against official prayer in public schools.

The latest example is a battle between the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative public-interest law firm, and the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. The commission threatened to revoke the charter of a school if it used any "religious document or text" -- including the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Koran and the Bible -- or even made those works available in the classroom.

The commission said it was acting according to a provision in the state Constitution that says: "No books, papers, tracts or documents of a political, sectarian or denominational character shall be used or introduced in any schools established under the provisions of this article." Taken literally, the Constitution as well as the Bible would be excluded. Taken seriously, only proselytizing would be forbidden. "Shall be used" suggests that interpretation.

The Idaho case involves the state Constitution, but more often it's the 1st Amendment that is wrongly used to justify religion-free classrooms. In banning official school prayer, the U.S. Supreme Court didn't outlaw the study of the Bible (or the Koran, for that matter) as literature or for its historical significance. School administrators who don't understand this provide ammunition to religious conservatives who sniff a secular conspiracy in the schools.

RELATED:

God and 9/11

God and Lancaster

God at the head of the class

The United States of 'Jesusland'?

Being Muslim in America after 9/11

--Michael McGough

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

 

Comments () | Archives (0)

The comments to this entry are closed.


Connect

Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video


Categories


Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »

Archives
 


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



In Case You Missed It...