Christians Won Court Case; Now Upset About Aftermath

Ed Brayton gives you the backstory about what’s happening in the Albemarle School District in Virginia:

… Most schools have a system for sending home flyers to parents informing them of school events. Most schools also allow outside groups, like the Scouts or the YMCA, use that system to get the word out about summer camps and the like.

In 2001, a Christian group tried to use a school’s system to inform parents of one of their events and they were refused. They filed suit and the 4th Circuit ruled in their favor, saying that if a school is going to allow some community groups to use that system, they cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination in choosing which groups to allow in. This was not unexpected; it fits with a long line of rulings on limited public fora that say, in essence, “allow one, allow all.”

So everyone involved should have been happy, right?

They weren’t when they learned other groups were going to take advantage of this ruling.

The uproar began last winter when a flyer urging students to go to a “Pagan ritual” was distributed.

Now, another handout is causing some Christian groups to rethink the ruling. This one is from the atheist summer camp, Camp Quest.

“Do I have to send this out?” Diane Behrens says she asked the county attorney. Behrens, who decides what can go home in backpack mail, says she was advised that unless county policy limits distribution to local events, the schools had to send it home.

Not everyone passed out the brochure, though:

The teachers’ representative told [World Net Daily] several teachers simply didn’t hand out the latest promotion, and of course now fear retaliation if their supervisors find out.

“They do put a disclaimer there, that the school doesn’t support it,” the [anonymous teachers'] representative said. “But we are expected to send this stuff home in childrens’ backpacks. It’s still coming from me and my classroom.”

“I took a stand and did not send it home,” the representative said. “Other teachers did the same thing.”

And the teachers who suppressed the brochure are clearly wrong. Mat Staver, the Christian Liberty Counsel founder, agrees. “He sees it as a freedom of speech issue: parents are free to read the fliers– or throw them away.”

Camp Quest’s president feels she might as well use the ruling as a way to get word about the camp to the public:

Amanda Metskas, president of the Camp Quest board, defends spreading the word about the Ohio and Michigan camps because children can fly there directly from Charlottesville.

“I don’t know if public schools should be sending home fliers for outside organizations,” says Metskas. “But if they can, it makes sense for us to take advantage of that opportunity. We have a small budget for promotion.”

School officials are finally going to meet over this issue. Behrens said that the policy would be revisited today.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has a good posting on this issue as well.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Ed Brayton, Albemarle School District, Virginia, Boy Scouts, YMCA, Christian, Pagan, Camp Quest, Diane Behrens, Mat Staver, Christian Liberty Counsel, Amanda Metskas, Ohio, Michigan, Charlottesville, Americans United for Separation of Church and State[/tags]

  • Marai

    ::sigh:: and so it begins. Have you noticed way too many Christian groups want to take advatage of such laws, but don’t want anyone else too? If you’re going to allow one, you have to allow the others. It’s only fair!

  • Miko

    The teachers’ representative told [World Net Daily] several teachers simply didn’t hand out the latest promotion, and of course now fear retaliation if their supervisors find out.

    So on the plus side, at least they realize that what they’re doing is wrong.

  • Richard Wade

    Oh the irony is so delicious. Like blood.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang
  • Karen

    ROTFLMAO!!

    I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen: “You folks want school prayer? You got it. Please make sure your kids bring their prayer mats on Friday. We’ll be facing Mecca and reciting prayers to Allah. Next week: Ten minutes of Buddhist chanting!”

    Oh, the howls of protest that would start up …

  • Jen

    This is so awesome, the universe is probably going to implode.

    I’d also love to see what happens if a teacher there quietly recycles all the Christian material being sent home, and what kind of punishment that would receive verses these anti-Camp Quest jerks.

  • http://raphael.doxos.com Huw

    I really do wish people (Christian or not) would stop taking World Net Daily seriously. There are two cases involving the Albemarle School district listed on the court’s record of opinions, one involving racial discrimination and one involving a dress code… near as I can tell nothing about this issue comes up.

    WND seems to manufacture stories which are supposed to rile the masses to support the poor, beleaguered right wing… Either that or they just don’t cite enough facts to make their stories verifiable. They are the Christian Right’s version off the National Enquirer. Make fun of them for their lack of facts!

  • http://www.matsonwaggs.wordpress.com Kelly

    Hilarious. Why would they be offended by a flyer in their kids back pack? Throw it away if you aren’t interested, which is what I do everytime I get the flyers asking me to buy overpriced crappy pre-packaged food to “support the schools!”.
    I hope at least one kid in that school district ends up going to Camp Quest. What a wonderful opportunity for a kid to come out of that community and get to spend time with a bunch of free thinkers.

  • Miko

    I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen: “You folks want school prayer? You got it. Please make sure your kids bring their prayer mats on Friday. We’ll be facing Mecca and reciting prayers to Allah. Next week: Ten minutes of Buddhist chanting!”

    We could do one god per day, alphabetically. I imagine we’d get to Yahweh sometime in 2015 or so.

  • Mriana

    I don’t see the problem. They should be happy. They get to pass out fliers and so does everyone else. It works for me.

  • Maria

    I don’t see the problem. They should be happy. They get to pass out fliers and so does everyone else. It works for me

    The problem is they want to be the ONLY ones allowed to pass out fliers……see, equal rights apply only to them…..

  • Mriana

    Well, I guess that just goes to show they are insane if they think that.

  • healthyaddict

    That is sooooooooooooo hallarious! xD

    But… not surprising….

  • Tina B.

    I can’t wait to send this to my son, he will be laughing his butt off! I don’t see what the problem is……

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