Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Decision Seeks to Impose Christian View

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Decision Seeks to Impose Christian View

Article excerpt

Speaker after speaker at Tuesday night's tent revival-style School Board meeting proved the point:

The board's continuing court fight over allowing student-led "messages" during high school graduation ceremonies is about nothing more than Christian prayer, pure and simple.

The four board members -- Linda Sparks, Stan Jordan, Billy Parker and Jimmie Johnson -- who voted in favor of appealing an appellate court's decision that the board's policy is unconstitutional, and spending several hundred thousand dollars in the process that could be better spent in the classrooms, can try to hide behind the "messages" subterfuge, but it won't work.

The supporters of the policy who urged the board to appeal Tuesday night left no doubt to what is intended: There is only one valid prayer -- to Jesus -- and only one valid religion -- Christianity -- and anyone who believes differently is condemned to hell.

That view was graphically illustrated when one of the few in the audience who spoke against the policy was heckled by the crowd. Love thy neighbor?

When I wrote a column last week saying the board should abandon its attempt to insert Christian prayer into the public schools, I received many comments. Most of them, surprisingly, were supportive of my position.

You might find four e-mails I received in one day interesting, as I did.

One read: "You are a nitwit. How can you be so stupid? It is far more than an issue of `message.' It is an issue of values, lifestyle and what this country is all about. This country was founded on Christian principles and it is the erosion of Christianity that has brought this country down. Liberal twits like you are the reason why Littleton, Colo., came about."

Another read: "I was really shocked last year at my daughter's graduation by the arrogance of the class `chaplain' who felt the need to invoke Jesus repeatedly to an audience that she very well knew contained many non-Christians. Since she was presumably 17 or 18, I could somewhat excuse her insensitivity, but the adult and presumably educated policy makers are a different proposition."

Another read: "It's all about principle. …

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