June 16, 2004

What war on religion?

As the comments on my previous post about the Pledge show, there are folks who like to say that people like myself and the ACLU who believe in strict separation of church and state are trying to restrict all religious expression in public forums. Urband legends abound about kids being suspended for reading the Bible in the school cafeteria.

It's true that fear of lawsuits sometimes leads ignorant officials to overreact, but here's what quite rightly happens when they do.

Abby Moler really had it going on in 2001. She was valedictorian of her graduating class at Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, Mich. One of the perks of being the No. 1 student was the opportunity to submit some words of wisdom to be printed in the school yearbook.

Abby chose a Bible verse to serve as her message to fellow students. The verse she picked was Jeremiah 29:11, which reads "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Seems harmless enough, right? But school officials, no doubt fearful of a lawsuit from some offended parent or student, nixed the message because of its religious content.

Abby wasn't about to take this affront to her right to self-expression lying down. So she called for backup. Did she call up Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson, or even Rush Limbaugh? No, she turned for help to what might at first seem like a most unlikely ally - the ACLU. And they agreed to take up her cause.

The case finally concluded this week with Abby and her friends at the ACLU claiming victory. The school sent Abby a letter of apology and they also agreed to add a sticker with her biblical message to copies of the yearbook still on file at the school. They further promised not to censor similar messages in the future.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Thank GOD for the ACLU! Or, DON'T thank God, for the ACLU. But, THANK YOU, ACLU! Where in God's name would we be without you?! I bet it'd be hell!

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