Thursday, November 12, 2009

American Legion Dropped From School Veterans' Day Ceremony Over Prayer

Minnesota's Bloomington School District this year used teams from the Minnesota Army National Guard to present arms and help raise the flag at Veterans' Day ceremonies at 15 district schools. Tuesday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that school officials dropped the American Legion because it insisted that it would participate only if the ceremony included leading students in prayer. Elementary school principal Gail Swor raised questions after the Legion participant last year asked everyone to bow their heads in prayer. The VFW, which had also participated last year dropped, out this year in support of the Legion. The American Legion is also holding back on $25,000 to $30,000 in scholarships that it has traditionally awarded. American Legion Post commander and former Vietnam Army medic Terry Selle defended his position, saying: "We are not trying to push anything on kids or convert them, but we are a Christian-based country and a military based on Christian-based principles. My opinion is that this is another example of America going downhill." [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]

6 comments:

Bob Ritter said...

The United States has never been a "Christian-based country", nor is our nation based on Christian-based principles. As proof, the Constitution is crystal clear that "We the People of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Nothing about Christianity or God in the Constitution. In deed, we would be a much better nation without the divisiveness caused by religious groups mucking with our laws and politics.

The VFW's odious Christian Supremacist view, is prevalent in a number of Supreme Court decisions, such as Chief Justice Rehnquist's plurality opinion in Van Orden v. Perry (2005) (holding that the display of a Fraternal Order of Eagles donated Ten Commandments tombstone on the grounds of the Texas state capitol doesn't violate the Establishment Clause) and Justice Douglas's opinion in Zorach v. Clauson (1952) (upholding a program of offsite religious instruction during school hours) (e.g., "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being"; also writing "There cannot be the slightest doubt that the First Amendment reflects the philosophy that Church and State should be separated" -- excusing the government's infusion of religion as a "matter of degree").

D. Hans said...

When the framers of the Consitution came up with the First Amendment notion of church/state separation it was within a context of relegated colonialism and fear of theocratic monopolization of working plantations, church run elections, and church run militias. In short, money and power. It was not whether some vet. should or should not ask people in a publically funded place to pray with him. The Supreme Court knows this, most people know it, and I know it.

The Trib. quoted Principal Gail Swor to say that at the actual service, "... the Pledge of Allegiance" was done by those attending. "...one nation, under God, indivisible.." certainly is a prayer and while it may have been woven into the Pledge some sixty years after the original copy was written it is nevertheless legitimate evidence that Americans like to pledge to their flag and God. Why the A.L.'s version was rejected is yet another example of liberal folly. I'm sure Principal Swor was well intentioned, and well restrained by liberal dogmatism. Not that I am any great exponent of praying, the funny thing is I would imagine everyone down at the Bloomington service was praying anyway.

Jim51 said...

Hans,
I'm not even sure what "fear of theocratic monopolization of working plantations" could possibly mean but I can assure you that many of our founders were concerned about religious majorities legislating over the rights of conscience. I have read thousands of pages of their letters and this comes through again and again. This concern does not appear in your list.
And as far as what "most people know" about the Constitution goes, your hyperbole is showing. Most people have never bothered to even read it.
Having said that, I would have been happy enough to allow for ceremonial deism during the event, and I suspect that folks who didn't wish to participate with that part of the program would have just stood respectfully and quietly. But that the Vet organizations took their marbles and went home when they couldn't get it all their way does say something about them too.
I would also love to hear just what "a military based on Christian-based principles" could be.
Jim51

Lady Janus said...

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the last actual military unit based on Christian principles were the Templars. And look what happened to them: they got so rich, and so powerful, they "had to be" destroyed by their own co-religionists.

Speedwell said...

It was not whether some vet. should or should not ask people in a publically funded place to pray with him.

No, but it might have been about a congressionally-chartered organization of the Armed Forces attempting to coerce individual children to pray, regardless of the children's own beliefs or lack thereof, in the context of an assembly in a legally secular institution.

LexAequitas said...

" it may have been woven into the Pledge some sixty years after the original copy was written it is nevertheless legitimate evidence that Americans like to pledge to their flag and God."

Yet another example of Christians who claim the phrase is just secular and a recognition of history when challenged in one context, but then in another try to use it to push the "Christian nation" idea.