A recent scandal in the Pennsylvania school system has brought to light just how very misunderstood the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution is. I think that when the school district loses its court case, it will have been a net positive for American religious debate and for society in general.
The city of Abington, Pennsylvania is rallying around a 10-year old boy who was not allowed to dress up as Jesus for Halloween. Apparently the average American citizen is less cowed by cowing institutions such as the ACLU than are school districts. Good!
Donna Brewer says that her son was allowed to wear a costume depicting himself as Jesus, even under the district's very own policy. This story is very illustrative of how much people misinterpret not only what the Constitution of the United States says, but also the Supreme Court's interpretation of it. It is clearly within the 10-year-old Brewer's right to wear the costume, complete with a paper-wreath symbolizing Jesus' crown of thorns.
The Lynn Breidenbach show yesterday indicated that the Brewers' first choice would have been not to have him wear a Halloween costume at all, because of their desire not to celebrate Halloween. According to the show, the school required everyone to wear a costume or they would be isolated in another room in the school and would not be able to share in the Halloween festivities with the rest of the children. Neither option to them was palatable, so they chose a third--advertising their religion through a Halloween costume.
It's interesting that devils, demons, witches, and goblins were allowed at the school, but not the One that many think has the power to cast them out. One of the school administrators suggested in essence 'We'll let you stay if you take off the crown of thorns and indicate that you are a Roman emperor.'
Ah, much better. You can't be Jesus, but you can be someone who practiced genocide on His followers.
I'm not sure whether the Brewers ended up making some sort of costume change, but they are definitely not through, although their pending lawsuit asks for no money damages.
Brewer insists that she did not agree to a proposal by the principal of the Willow Hill Elementary School that her son remove his crown and wear only his white robe. The district claims that Brewer and her son agreed to change his costume and have him walk in the parade as a contemporary of Jesus.
Abington's schools, Brewer said, "should not discriminate against anybody because of their religion including Christianity," but they do.
Brewer said she had no regrets over the lawsuit. "I am not moved one bit by what people may say. If I had to do it all over again, I would do the same thing. I reached out to the school, then to the district and then to an attorney. This was my last resort."
This case needs to be publicized. I actually hope that it goes to court, because that will give the media more time to make what should not even be a controversy known to more people. The Brewers are right. The school is wrong. It's time we all understood our religious rights in America.