Editor’s comment: This piece highlights how the trouble w/trying to legislate God, as w/many matters of soul, is that we inevitably legislate ourselves into a quagmire. We would do better to recognize legislation as only one tool in the toolbox for shaping community and raising the bar i.e.: defining good and evil, right and wrong, legal and illegal, ethical and unethical, rude and polite, appropriate and inappropriate, productive and unproductive etc etc etc. #50ShadesOfInfluence.
By Steve Benen I MSNBC Feb 15,2015 via Anisa Battah
First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of Florida, where a local school district was confronted with an awkward dilemma. When we last checked in with the fine folks in Orange County, home to Orlando among other communities, the school board had already agreed to allow an evangelical Christian group to distribute Bibles to school children. The Satanic Temple heard about the arrangement and asked for equal treatment – they had some Satanic coloring books they wanted to share. If the board members refused, the Satanic Temple would sue and almost certainly win – the Supreme Court has already said public schools can’t discriminate based on religious viewpoints. If the doors were open to an evangelical group to distribute Bibles, then Orange County would seem to have no choice but to open the doors a little wider to accommodate every other religious group. This week, Ian Millhiser explained the school board decided it’s time to close the doors altogether. The school district, in other words, could allow Christians and Satanists alike to distribute literature to students. Or it could exclude both. But it cannot discriminate against the Satanists because it disagrees with the Satanic viewpoint. At a school board meeting Tuesday night, the board decided to go with a version of option B. Under their new policy, some literature may still be distributed, “but nothing that is religious, political or sectarian,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. Every time these kinds of controversies arise, the underlying principle is always the same: when it comes to religion and public affairs, the government can’t play favorites. First Amendment principles demand that no American is treated as a second-class citizen. The ideal solution, it would seem, is for public officials to stay out of the religion-promotion business altogether. Previously published in This Week in God, 2.14.15 | MSNBC.