Religious Freedom Wins for Parents and Students in Louisiana

Many of us hear from time to time about public schools alleged to be functioning in many ways as religious schools in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In 2014, the ACLU of Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the public school system in Sabine Parish, Louisiana.  (For those of you who might not know, counties are referred to as parishes in Louisiana.)  The allegations of illegal religious activities in the school system were numerous and, quite frankly, some of the most extensive and deeply pervasive I had ever encountered in the news media. According to newspaper reports in 2014, these alleged violations included school officials who were pegged with bullying a Buddhist child and openly calling him “stupid” during the school day because he was not a Christian.  I was absolutely floored by the overall allegations because they were indicative not just of a school system that had crossed a legal line in the sand—but rather one that appeared to have driven several hundred miles beyond that line in numerous ways.

Over the past two years, I lost track of this story in the news.  Today this case came to mind again, and I wondered why I had not heard anything more about it. I found out why.  The ACLU of Louisiana and the Sabine Parish Board of Education had quietly settled the case under legal oversight by the U.S. District Court before it could go to an actual trial.

The final terms of such legal settlements are put to paper in official, signed legal documents that are available to the public, and the U.S. District Court presides over and enforces the terms of the settlement agreement. I was already familiar with such settlement agreements.  The public school system I matriculated through many decades ago was cornered into such an agreement for limited and far less outrageous allegations of First Amendment violations, and the terms of the agreement were harsh.  The terms of that legal agreement were not nearly as harsh as the ones in the Sabine Parish agreement.  In my opinion, the Sabine Parish agreement represented nothing less than an old-fashioned, ever lovin’ ass kicking.  If you would like to read both the text of the original complaint against the Sabine Parish School Board and the text of the settlement agreement, you may do so by clicking on the following safe links:

https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/lane-v-sabine-parish-school-board-complaint

https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/lane-v-sabine-parish-school-board-consent-decree-and-order

Do American fundies seriously believe daily bullying and assaulting of children with Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical doctrine in public schools will somehow lead them to a real and honest faith in Jesus Christ?  I seriously doubt it.  If I had been treated like the child C.C. was allegedly treated, I would have wanted to get as far away from Christianity as I could possibly get and never have anything to do with it again. I wonder how a fundie child from Sabine Parish would have fared in a Hawaiian public school system where there is a long history of minority, white Christian children being mistreated at the hands of Buddhist and Shinto school officials and students?  I still maintain my belief that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are the two biggest atheist-making and agnostic-making enterprises in the United States.

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