South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and a state senator sparred this week over a Haley appointee’s alleged atheism, and it was quite a spat.
The Supreme Court made it clear decades ago that our public schools aren’t meant to be places for spreading religion. But for legislators in three states, court rulings are no deterrent to their dogmatic agendas.
Lawmakers in South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee are debating bills that are designed, supporters say, to “put prayer back in schools.” The tactics vary, but in each case the desired outcome is the same: a potentially unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. And the legislators behind the bills aren’t shy about their motivations.
There is good news and bad news from the state of South Carolina today.
Let’s start with the good news: Members of the Florence School District 1 School Board have agreed to stop sending sectarian email messages to staff after Americans United advised against the practice.
My first job in Washington, D.C., was with a non-profit that served the correctional community. In 1986, a bunch of us on the staff spent the night in a new state-of-the-art jail that had just been constructed in Prince George’s County, Md. We wore jail uniforms and ate dry sandwiches for dinner. The lights snapped off at 10 p.m. sharp and came back on at 6 the next morning.
That was my only brush with the correctional system – and it was enough.
Yesterday was primary election day in a number of states. Several candidates who ran on platforms bashing church-state separation fared poorly.
Here are some results that might be of interest:
Americans United has pointed out many times that public schools need not be “religion-free” zones. There are ways students can meet for prayer or to read religious texts – but it has to be their choice.
In Georgetown, S.C., a local resident, Violet Infinger, had been coming onto school grounds for 10 years to pray with students and pass out religious literature.
When it comes to church-state separation, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer just doesn't have a clue.
That's never been more apparent than it was yesterday. After a federal judge ruled against a legislature-mandated "Christian" license plate, Bauer carried on in a way that made me think he not only failed to read the court's opinion, but that he also doesn't understand the principle of basic fairness.
My wife went to grad school in North Carolina. She wasn't much of a drinker (at least that's what she tells me now), but she and her roommate did enjoy a bottle of wine with dinner every so often.
On Monday through Saturday, they could buy a bottle of vino any time the grocery store was open. On Sunday, they had to wait until noon. My wife remembers being forced once to wait 15 minutes before she could check out a large grocery order because her shopping cart included a bottle of wine.
Welcome to the wacky world of blue laws!