( – promoted by mooncat)
The Alabama ACLU sent out this press release yesterday regarding the constitutionality of the proposed bill to establish “Christian Heritage Week” in Alabama schools.
I’m all for it… assuming our kids are taught about all religions. But I’m not holding my breath waiting for our “leaders” in Montgomery to authorize “Islamic Heritage Week” or “Druid Heritage Week”
Here’s what the Alabama ACLU has to say:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama expressed serious concerns today about the constitutionality of proposed House Bill 482, the Christian heritage bill. The bill would designate the first scholastic week in November each year as Christian Heritage Week in public K-12 schools and would require daily instruction during that week on the influence of Christianity on the history and heritage of the United States. House Bill 482 singles out the influence that the Christian religion has had on our history and heritage. This is a promotion and endorsement of a particular religious belief in violation the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and numerous Supreme Court decisions, including Lemon v. Kurtzman. The House Education Policy Committee will take up this bill tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9.
“The ACLU respects, supports, and fights for the fundamental religious freedom of all individuals. However, the Constitution’s Framers understood very well that religious liberty can only flourish when the government does not interfere with or attempt to influence deeply personal spiritual beliefs,” said Allison Neal, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. In order to ensure the protection of individual religious liberty, the Establishment Clause prohibits the government from establishing or promoting religion in any way.
The bill’s authors have made a number of findings in support of a HB 482 that are extremely misleading. For example, the Christian heritage bill states that the U.S. Supreme Court in Holy Trinity Church v. Unites States determined that the U.S. was a Christian nation. Their interpretation of this ruling is wrong. Although the court expressed its support of religious freedom when writing the opinion, the ruling is not about the First Amendment at all. Holy Trinity is a case about the importation of foreign laborers.
House Bill 482’s supporters also claim that Christian Heritage Week activities are protected by the Supreme Court ruling, Abington School District v. Schempp, but they are not. The Schempp ruling says that studying the Bible or religion, if presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, is consistent with the First Amendment. This means that schools may offer courses about religion, the Bible, or other religious work under those circumstances. However, Christian Heritage Week is not presented objectively as part of a secular program of education. It is the government promoting a particular religious belief.
The House Education Policy Committee should reject House Bill 482. It’s unconstitutional, and will likely lead the state into costly litigation if adopted. Public schools should seek to create an environment conducive to learning by all students and not advocate religious or anti-religious beliefs.