Child's choice of religious subjects in public school c
Steven D. Jamar
sjamar at LAW.HOWARD.EDU
Tue Jan 20 16:59:28 PST 1998
Jim, would you permit a retelling of the story of Jesus, but just change
the names Betty and Bob who have a son (or maybe daughter?) Pat in the
guise of a non-religious story?
Mind you, I think the story of Jacob and Esau is pretty innocuous and the
context, at least in the part quoted to us is pretty opaque. But would it
matter if the teacher required each child to tell the name of the book it
comes from and who the author is - this was required of my kids at that
age. And so the name of the book is The Bible and the author is . . . god?
I think, Jim, the problem is a little more subtle than your response to it
would make it seem.
But certainly this child was singled out for special treatment (maybe good
or bad from the child's perspective and that of the class as a whole) and
that is a problem.
As to the court's assumption that these kids would see it as an endorsement
- I think that is warranted to this extent - all books in elementary school
are chosen for their messages or because kids will actually read them (in
which case the message part falls out). So there does seem to be an
implicit endorsement. But I think that this sort of reading in one
classroom is so fleeting as to have the weight, for 1st amendment purposes,
of a butterfly on a flower.
Steven D. Jamar
President, Legal Writing Institute
Professor of Law
Director LRW Program
Howard University School of Law
2900 Van Ness Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
vox: 202-806-8017 fax: 202-806-8428
email: sjamar at law.howard.edu
The more you know, the more you know you don't know.
More information about the Religionlaw