Buddhist Student, Religious Liberty Prevail In Louisiana

Imagine if your child was ridiculed in front of his classmates for his religious beliefs until he was physically ill. Can’t believe it? Neither could we, and that’s why the ACLU and the ACLU of Louisiana sued the Sabine Parish School District on behalf of C.C., a sixth-grader of Thai descent and a practicing Buddhist. You remember C.C.: He was chastised by teachers and administrators at his Louisiana public school for his religious beliefs. School officials also repeatedly, and illegally, imposed their religious beliefs on students in a number of ways.

Today, C.C. and his family won. A federal district court entered an order requiring the school district to refrain from unconstitutionally promoting or denigrating religion. The court’s order also mandates in-service training for school staff regarding their obligations under the First Amendment.

When we filed the lawsuit, many people were shocked by the allegations. In addition to denigrating C.C.’s Buddhist faith by calling it “stupid,” school officials suggested he should transfer to another school with “more Asians.” They also taught creationism in science class, incorporated prayer into class and nearly every school event, hung a portrait of Jesus over the main entryway, and participated in a number of other activities that blatantly violated the separation of church and state.  

The court’s order, which took the form of a “consent decree” agreed to by the school board, ensures that these unlawful practices will be discontinued in Sabine Parish and brings the case to a close. We applaud the board for doing right by C.C., his siblings, and all district students.

Unfortunately, however, not everyone has reacted to the lawsuit with the same measured consideration as the school board. While C.C. and his family have received much support from the community (including from some local congregations) and from across the country, they also have been harassed via crank calls to their house and work. And last month, C.C.’s mother Sharon was accosted while doing yard work: Three people wearing KKK-type white hoods drove by her and shouted, “You fucking nigger Asian-loving bitch.”

These incidents further highlight why it is so important that public schools throughout Louisiana, many of which continue to flout the law in this area, rethink their approach to religious liberty.  

Had Sabine Parish proactively sought to comply with the Constitution in the first place, the Lanes would not have been forced to expose their family to such vitriol, harassment, and intimidation simply to assert their fundamental rights. We hope their experience and the consent decree will serve as important tools to educate Louisiana’s educators – public school officials – about real religious liberty. 

Real religious liberty includes not only the right to express and practice your faith in school, which the consent decree protects, but also the right to be free from the religious coercion and alienation that occurs when a teacher or other school official tries to impose his or her beliefs during class or school events. Real religious liberty means that every child, regardless of faith, should feel welcome in our public schools.

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Anonymous

right wing and proud-
check out the aclu's history a little better. maybe google aclu and jerry falwell, you may know who he is. see how the aclu helped to defend his religious rights.
the problem isn't christianity, it's people who try and impose their religious values on others. you know, the stuff that martin luther got all upset about and the founders of our nation came here to get away from...

Blablabla

To right wing and proud:

I know I shouldn't even bother replying, but I guess I'm a masochist or something.

First of all, Christianity is the white man's religion? Where do you get this idea? Considering its origins and the ethnicity of its messiah, I'd say it's definitely *not* the white man's religion. I bet you believe that the westernized version of "white Jesus" is what a historical Jesus type character would've looked like. Spoiler: he wasn't white.

Perhaps just as ignorant statement is calling all other religions false. I must have missed that scientific, evidence supported peer-reviewed paper that supports that claim. If you believe your religion is true, then you have to also accept the claims of other religions, considering they have same level of support for their claims (which is to say, very little). Honestly, I agree with you in a way, except that I go one further and say that all religions are simply man-made constructs. Although it can't be proved 100%, it is highly improbable that a god or gods exist.

Finally, the ACLU is there to protect the civil liberties of people, not colored people. I will reiterate to attempt to burrow that idea in you're head, THEY ARE PEOPLE. When you are the overwhelming majority, as is the case with Christianity in the US, no one is trying to infringe on your civil liberty! Civil liberties, as spelled out in The Constitution, are made to prevent a "tyranny of the majority," which is what was occurring in the Louisiana school. Tyranny of the majority means those with the most numbers can effectively rule over the minority without some kind of check against this. If you have a legitimate religious liberty infringement claim, present it to the ACLU and they will help you, as well. Just remember, not allowing you to discriminate against homosexuals, Muslims, Jews, people of different races, atheists, or any other group is not infringing on your religious liberty, it's infringing on your bigotry.

Anonymous

I love a couple of these comments above. Trying to make the staff of that school into innocent victims. If they hadn't acted like the Christian version of the Taliban, the ACLU would have never been involved. Stop hiding your bigotry and hatred behind religion.

Anonymous

Right wing and proud, if you have any knowledge of incidents where other religions are breaking the law, I'm sure the ACLU would be happy to look into it. Also, you do know that the chances of the ancient Palestinian Jew (Jesus) you worship of being white are slim and none.

Anonymous

No right and proud, it's because your Christianity is just as false as the rest of them. Moron.

Anonymous

can the aclu please stop using the phrase "separation of church and state"?
i can't tell you how many people i've had to argue with that think that it's in the constitution. it's not, so stop.
bad behavior by school administrators should be addressed, no doubt.
lawsuit$ by the family should do the trick.
1st amendment is there to protect the people from having their religious freedoms taken/ the government establishing a state religion. 1st sentence. read it.

Anonymous

Right Wing and Proud, It's because people are getting fed up with 2,000 years of Christianity's oppressing and controlling of the masses and it being shoved down every person's throat. Stop playing victim. This country was founded on freedom OF religion. Not "Freedom of Religion" as long as it's Christianity.

Richard, Left W...

To Right Wing and Proud,

If you read the article you would have seen that it was the people who called themselves Christians who were attacking a child with a different faith.

As for your poorly formed opinion that all liberals hate Jesus and Christianity, may I direct you to the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina which counts among its numbers a large group of Protestant ministers and clergy. Sister Megan Rice, a Catholic nun, is currently serving 3 years in jail for her protests at a nuclear weapons facility. Sounds like quite a few Christians are not right wing. If you were to actually read the bible, you'd find that Jesus, himself would not agree with your diatribe.

Anonymous

To right wing and proud... Jesus was a homeless long-haired brown-skinned Middle Eastern Jew who was a peaceful, radical non-violent revolutionary who hung out with lepers, hookers and crooks. Clearly anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer, if you happen to believe in the Bible, he is depicted as a liberal socialist who sought social justice.

Anonymous

Where do some people LIVE? Under a rock.
I'm a Christian and don't even believe they're attacking Christianity. But maybe that's b/c the definition of "attacking Christianity" would mean doing things to stop people who WANT to practice it from doing so.
They didn't stop Christians from practicing Christianity. They stopped people from cramming it down someone's throat who DOESN'T want to practice it.
BTW Jesus was Jewish when he lived.
I have a feeling that people who get upset about not being able to force their religion on someone who DOESN'T want it also have no idea Jesus and his family were Jewish.

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