Kristen K. Swanson (left of center) convenes her Saturday organizing meeting
Many have said this is “the year of the woman.”
Lovettsville’s Kristen K. Swanson, a local artist, has believed that this would be “the year of the woman” ever since Donald Trump was chosen by the electoral college but lost the popular vote in 2016.
After all, the day after the Inauguration, Women marched on Washington in larger numbers than attended the Inauguration. Continue reading →
Thomas Jefferson: “Erecting the Wall of Separation between Church and State is absolutely essential in a free society.” (Photo by John P. Flannery)
At the recent Dem meeting, I was asked to lead the meeting in the pledge of allegiance.
I told the group that I do not say “under God” when I make the pledge but that I would pause when leading the pledge for anyone to say those words.
When I finished the pledge, someone shouted out, “God bless you!”
I didn’t respond. But he was out of line. He was, in fact and truth, objecting, in his way, that I refused to say “under God,” and would foist his wrong-headed view, in this manner, insisting that I acknowledge that our nation was “under God.” Well, it’s not.
The Dominican Nuns in the South Bronx instructed us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and that “rendering” had nothing whatsoever to do with God or our Roman Catholic religion.
I have refused to say the words, “under God,” ever since Congress added those words in 1954 to fight communism, because congressional zeal violated what Jesus told me and what our constitution prohibited in the very First Amendment to the US Constitution; in other words, it was none of Caesar’s business what even a kid thought was the righteous relationship of god and country. Continue reading →
Palimpsest – a document written over leaving traces of the original
A palimpsest is an old writing scraped from the original manuscript material to make room for a later over-writing, leaving only traces of the original.
We have witnessed an erosion of the plain meaning of the words found in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting any government, federal, state or local, from “establishing” a religion. We have a federal appellate decision as recent as this year plainly re-stating that religious worship in schools is an activity that violates the First Amendment. Yet some government entities have embraced practices establishing religion, in effect, over-writing the plain meaning of the First Amendment.
In the past week, I invited our local government agencies to stop using public buildings for religious worship as a plain and blatant constitutional violation.
In response, some agreed that they couldn’t understand how or why the County permitted church services in our public schools. One wrote, “I have been bothered by the Grace Church sign on Harmony Middle School for some time. Wrote a letter to LCPS Administration but didn’t even receive a reply.” Continue reading →
US Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in 1947 explained in his opinion in Everson v. Board of Education that a government “establishes” a religion in violation of the First Amendment when it’s “set[ting] up a church,” and aiding any religion; Justice Black cautioned that “the wall [separating church and state] must be kept high and impregnable” against even “the slightest breach.”
In past years, around December, we discussed whether we may have crèches, menorahs, and symbols of religious worship displayed on public common grounds when seeking to skirt this prohibition.
We haven’t, however, spent an instant in public dialogue with the county school superintendent, school board or board of supervisors about whether we have been violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment when we have transformed our schools into houses of religious worship on “the Lord’s Day.”
About 40% of our public schools (34 out of 87 schools) in Loudoun County host Masses and religious worship every Sunday.
The gyms, cafeterias and libraries in our public schools have served as the nave and transept for various church denominations going back 12 years or more. We’ve had these religious services without a murmur of inquiry or dissent, and now suffer from an inertial indifference to question what’s become an unquestioned practice – “don’t rock the boat” – “after all, the services are not during regular school hours” – “the churches pay to lease the space you know” – even though the established practice appears wholly unconstitutional.
It’s time to declare that religious worship is an impermissible use of our public schools. Continue reading →