You don’t know me but I’m a lawyer in Pennsylvania who reads. Big deal you say? Well, I read on the internet that the school district, your school district, is planning to send home fliers with the children in their backpacks entitled “Plant the Seeds of Faith in Jesus in Your Child at our Sunday school“.
I’m a big fan and defender of the First Amendment, and look suspiciously at any attempt to impede one’s constitutional right to communication with others, so I’m sympathetic with the aims of the Church group behind these fliers. However, as public school officials, I’m sure you are aware that the use of taxpayer funds for the purpose of promoting specific religious beliefs may be strictly scrutinized to see if it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. If it doesn’t pass muster, well, you know the drill.
Since I’m aware of this way over here in Pennsylvania, it’s apparent that you will now be receiving some national attention. This is not the first time this has come up in the national spotlight. Last year, Jerry Falwell’s organization was able to convince a school board in Abermarle County, VA to allow the same sort of backpack communications for religious organizations, then when he found out that the same rule that allowed such fliers also allowed fliers to be sent home by Pagans, atheists and Wiccans, to name a few, he caused an even bigger row trying to deny them the rights he previously advocated. Here’s a small article on it:
So, if you open that Pandora’s Box, be prepared to have every type of religion, and proponents of no religion, demanding equal time, and further be prepared to give them the equal time they request. It’s only fair. Constitutional too.
On a more personal note, have you really given much thought to the idea of “planting the seeds of faith” in your students? Is that something you think schools should be in the business of? Faith requires that you know something without evidence, that you use no thinking, but accept the words of some divine or supernatural authority for what you know. Is that what you want your students to do? Shouldn’t you be emphasizing, instead, the use of critical thinking, rationality, logic and reason? Don’t you want students to think? Are not the principles enunciated by scientific inquiry (the opposite of faith) what you should be encouraging? Are you not aware that the history of science indicates that we had no real scientific advances until we stopped relying on faith, and instead relied on evidence? Are you aware of the fact that our country is losing ground to other countries who emphasize the sciences more than we do, like Korea, Japan and India?
Seriously, I think you should look a little more closely at what you send home, and determine whether it comports with the mission of public education, rather than blindly passing it on simply because it comes from a church.
Thank you for your time, and…
Good luck to you.
Hope that helps.