Skip to comments.Being "offended" does not constitute an "establishment" of religion
Posted on 06/25/2014 1:46:28 PM PDT by NYer
The Elmbrook School District operates two public high schools in suburban Wisconsin. Finding that its own gymnasiums were cramped, hot, and uncomfortable, and at the request of students, it decided to move joint graduation ceremonies to a local Protestant church which offered air conditioning, more space, and greater comfort for attendees.
Not surprisingly, the rented sanctuary contained a prominently displayed cross, religious banners, hymnals, and Bibles. Neither the church’s staff nor members of the church’s congregation participated in the graduation. However, some students and parents complained that exposure to the religious symbols and materials was itself offensive and constituted an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The group sued the school district. The case went to the Seventh Circuit, first to a three-judge panel and then to the full court. Amazingly, the Seventh Circuit Court found for the parents and students, holding that conducting the graduation in a church building was tantamount to the establishing of religion.
The school district sought a U.S. Supreme Court review, especially in light of the high court’s own recent decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway which allowed prayer before a local government’s meetings. The Supreme Court, however, refused to review the Seventh Circuit decision, thus leaving the ruling to stand. Is this the result the First Amendment was designed to produce? An amendment that prohibits the government from “establishing religion?”
Justice Antonin Scalia said “no” and wrote a hard-hitting seven-page dissent to the court’s one sentence refusal to hear the appeal. Scalia first points out that in Elmbrook “it is beyond dispute that no religious exercise whatever occurred” at the graduation event. The complaining students and parents were not objecting to ceremonial content. Instead, they said that they “felt uncomfortable, upset, offended, unwelcome and/or angry because of the religious setting.” But is “being offended” by a one-time religious venue for a public school graduation really equivalent to the government establishing a church? Scalia refers to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s sensible and historically correct statement in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case: “[A]n Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views.” Scalia reminds his colleagues that a “religious establishment” against which the First Amendment warns is a governmentally mandated and tax-supported church.
Concluding that holding a high school graduation ceremony in a local church because of inadequate school facilities violates the First Amendment trivializes the intent of that anti-establishment language. Secondly, it raises “offensiveness” to the level of a constitutional right. Third, it moves closer and closer to the view that the First Amendment establishment clause requires “religion” and “government” to exist in separate hermetically sealed containers precisely at a time when America’s public institutions are in desperate need of the moral grounding which religious foundations provide.
This one line refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Seventh Circuit’s errant decision will not receive the media attention that the other full-fledged opinions will receive, but it shows that the court is still sadly confused about what constitutes religious establishment.
Good Lord!!!! wait, can I say that?
I sometimes wonder if my response to these sorts of stories is best categorized as “fiddling while rome burns”.
I used to say that if it were not so serious it would be funny but I’ve gotten to the point where I think it’s funny anyway.
It’s like watching history happen before your very eyes.
Next year, when they hold the graduation in an un-airconditioned gym or parking lot, include the names of the plaintiffs prominently in the program. Heck, do it every year in perpetuity.
“This misery brought to you by ...”
Fine. Then keep your offended selves out of a privately funded property, and sweat your hairy ****** off.
There’s gratitude for ya.
Well, I’ll be flamed for this, but having the ceremony in the “religious part” (not sure what that is called in a Church) would result in Orthodox Jews, for example, not being able to attend the ceremony, in that the Torah forbids entry by Jewish people into the sanctuary of what Jews consider a false religion.
Now, would I have sued?
No, I would have explained to my very disappointed daughters (all of whom that reached such age being at the top of their class and gave a short speech) that they were out of luck and we’d go get their Diploma from the principal.
I am familiar with school districts that rent their property out to religious organizations on the weekends. Is that a violation also?
somehow exposing children to LGBT and sexual perversions doesn’t offend these people
A Jewish friend of mine, now deceased, attended my SIL’s funeral in a church. He even wore his yarmulke..............
I just wonder if there is some line that can/will be crossed that would get real action from the right?
Not only is the court wrong in the refusal to review the lower court’s ruling, it is STUPID. DUMB. MORONIC. IDIOTIC. ASSININE. I’m running out of adjectives. If the so-called “best” legal minds in the country can’t do any better than this, we are doomed.
Apparently not though I have sent emails on similar matters. Of course, they are ignored.
It's the Church that will get you on that one -- it violates one of the commandments.
Christians should not put their children in public schools. Government schools are child abuse.
Our high school was right across the road from our church. Lots of our teachers were members of the church and we often went to the church so we could take final exams in the AC.
“A Jewish friend of mine, now deceased, attended my SILs funeral in a church. He even wore his yarmulke.”
Then he was not Orthodox or decided to ignore the Torah.
“You deserve to be flamed. This was not attending a religious ceremony.”
The Torah forbids entry to the sanctuary of a non-Jewish religion, even if ceremonies are not to be performed.
The Law is the Law; I didn’t write it. If the Law offends you, take in up with the Author.
The Torah is the Torah.
Take up your complaints with the Author.
I don't know if he was or wasn't.................
BTW, could you point me to the scripture?...........Thanks...............
You didn’t answer the question about American aid to Israel. Are Christian tax dollars too filthy for Orthodox Jews to accept? I didn’t think so.
Chapter and verse, please?
Its unimaginable to me that anyone would be so offended by the venue of a HS graduation that they would take it all the way to the supreme court. IMO they were not offended, this suit was the result of hatred of Christianity.
Backing up a step, with much of the curriculum being taught in today’s public screwels, one may have a good argument that such in and of itself is in violation of the establishment clause.
You point is idiotic on so many levels it doesn’t deserve a response.
More fully explained in the links above.
Then he was a very badly informed Orthodox Jew.
He was my best friend.
I am sure he was a very good friend, and that is why he decided to violate the Law.
His Father the local Rabi was at the Cake & Punch celebration afterwords, in the church basement.
Accepting funding from the gentiles is acceptable.
10 Foreigners will rebuild your walls,
and their kings will serve you.
Though in anger I struck you,
in favor I will show you compassion.
11 Your gates will always stand open,
they will never be shut, day or night,
so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations
their kings led in triumphal procession.
12 For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish;
it will be utterly ruined.
“His Father the local Rabi was at the Cake & Punch celebration afterwords, in the church basement.”
This sounds right; non-sanctuary parts of a Church are not prohibited.
This same issue comes up with voting, actually.
Fwiw, if that’s your rules, that’s your rules. Doesn’t bother me.
Why don’t we just stop having High school graduation, give the parents their money back and tell them they can take their kids to a private school of their choice.
“somehow exposing children to LGBT and sexual perversions doesnt offend these people”
It does however greatly offend me and any and all other God fearing Christians.
When are we going to demand that the Federal Education system stops imposing its Sodomite region upon our kids?
Amazingly it takes one atheist parent to complain to get anything religious removed from a school. While nearly all parents working together to get perversion out are ignored.
“Amazingly it takes one atheist parent to complain to get anything religious removed from a school. While nearly all parents working together to get perversion out are ignored.”
We need organization, legal teams, and fair ‘courts’.
We should nonetheless make the case and make a high profile of it too. Sodomy is literally against the teachings of our religion and by having those symbols and Words taught in our Government school it is no less an establishment of State religion against us than the School holding graduation in the present of religious symbols.