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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 1, 2009 at 4:00 PM

No Bible club: Has separation of church and state gone too far?

Kentridge Bible club harmless to religious minorities

Editor, The Times,

As an atheist, I’m quite leery of intrusions of religion into government-funded schooling, like mandatory prayer. However, it’s clear that banning an extracurricular Bible club is taking the wall of separation between church and state a little too far [“High court won’t hear Kent schools Bible-club case,” NWTuesday, June 30].

We must be wary of condoning social pressure on nonbelievers and other members of religious minorities to toe the line, especially in the less religiously diverse areas of the country, but we must also be sure that we’re not infringing on the religious liberty of the majority.

Since the club would receive no school funding and hence, no government funding, since it is an optional extracurricular activity and since it seems unlikely to present undue social pressure (as a “moment of silence” in place of a moment of prayer would do), the club is harmless to religious minorities.

Banning the club, however, harms every person, Christian or not, who values religious liberty in public schools.

— James Vonder Haar, Chicago, Ill

Religion has no place in schools

Wow, it’s hard to know where to start regarding the arrogance of the people proposing a Bible-study group called Truth at Kentridge High. They propose to ban from the group anyone who doesn’t sign an affidavit of Christianity — yet they are complaining about being discriminated against on religious grounds. Does that not strike them as a tad contradictory?

The notion is especially specious that one can compare limiting group members’ philosophy — clearly a personal issue — to the limits imposed on clubs for girls and for boys. I’m sure they are in to evangelizing to potential new members, so why would they want to prohibit someone who might want to actually learn something and simply “preach to the choir.” I forgot, they would rather just blast to the unsuspecting and possibly unwilling over the intercom.

Does it not occur to them that such broadcasting itself is pretty discriminatory to the rights of non-Christian students and faculty, of whom there must be at least a few? It’s one thing to allow Bibles in classrooms for those desperate enough to need a hit of scripture during the school day, but there’s no need to proselytize on the school loudspeakers.

Are people teaching reading, writing and calculus in church these days? Unless you’re going to a church school, religion has no place in the classroom.

— Sean Bentley, Bellevue

Comments | More in Education, Religion

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