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Thread: FFRF, In God We Trust, and an Ethical Question

  1. #1
    Council Member Djinn's Avatar
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    FFRF, In God We Trust, and an Ethical Question

    So here's what happened...

    I'm a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which seeks to preserve the separation between church and state. Yesterday, I was notified of Pennsylvania House Bill 1640, which legalizes the prominent displays of "In God We Trust" in our public schools. To make matters worse, the bill cites the motto's creator, former PA Governor James Pollack, known as "The Great Christian Governor." And then the bill encourages school districts to involve students in contests to find the best way to display the motto. HB1640 recently passed the PA House Education Committee, and is due for a full vote in the near future.

    In response, I wrote the following letter to my state representative and state senator (both of whom are Republican):

    Spoiler tags to keep the post short.... (and I have no idea why the text is centered).



    Greetings Sen. -----------

    My name is ------- ------------, and I'm a constituent of your district, living in ------, PA. I recently learned of PA House Bill 1640, which appears to be yet another attempt to push religion into our public schools. I've read the text of the bill, and I'm rather surprised this made it past the House Education Committee.

    The bill legalizes and encourages public schools to prominently display "In God We Trust" in our public schools, with complete disregard to the large (and growing) number of voters who do not share religious views. According to the bill, the effort is to honor a 19th century Governor of Pennsylvania known as "The Great Christian Governor," in case there was any ambiguity as to exactly which institution of religion was being respected by the bill.

    And most dishearteningly, the bill literally encourages schools to have public school students (who are required to attend public schools by law) to participate in contests to demonstrate the best way to display the message that faith is being placed in God.

    There are many places where religious praise and worship is appropriate; even welcomed. But our public schools are not among them. Please leave the kids, and their public schools out of this, and vote against PA House Bill 1640.

    Regards,

    (my name and address)



    I received a reply today from my state representative. It was brief, polite, and I was a little surprised that he agreed with me:

    --------,

    I trust this e-mail finds you well.

    I actually agree with you and I do not believe the bill will become law as it did not in our prior session.

    One thing I must point out is that it is not a mandate. If it did become law, school district would not be required to
    display the motto. It would be their choice if they would wish to do so and there are not requirements attached to that, just recommendations in the bill ,, but again, no mandates or requirements.

    I am sure it will be brought to the House Floor, if it passes, although I do not intend to support it, I believe it will die in the Senate as it did last session.

    I trust this helps.

    Safe day,
    --------



    ... And I sent the following to him:

    Greetings again...

    I am pleased to hear that you plan to vote against the bill, and that you anticipate the bill will die in the Senate. I recognize that the bill is not a mandate. However, it empowers school officials to implement requirements and mandates for teachers (to coordinate the "contests" mentioned in the bill), and the students themselves, who would be forced to choose between participating in the exercise, or tacitly exposing their beliefs to their teachers and classmates.

    This collectively exposes their districts to multiple legal challenges that would cost them time and money; both of which are in tight supply these days.

    Thank you for insights and your prompt reply,

    Regards,

    ------ ----------


    So here's my question... Would it be wrong for me to forward this correspondence (unredacted) to the FFRF, to show that not all Republican legislators back these pieces of nonsense legislation. On the one hand, the e-mail was sent directly to me. On the other hand, he sent it in the capacity as a state legislator.

    Also, I welcome any comments on the actual bill and its intent.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member PACE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Djinn View Post
    So here's what happened...

    I'm a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which seeks to preserve the separation between church and state. Yesterday, I was notified of Pennsylvania House Bill 1640, which legalizes the prominent displays of "In God We Trust" in our public schools. To make matters worse, the bill cites the motto's creator, former PA Governor James Pollack, known as "The Great Christian Governor." And then the bill encourages school districts to involve students in contests to find the best way to display the motto. HB1640 recently passed the PA House Education Committee, and is due for a full vote in the near future.

    In response, I wrote the following letter to my state representative and state senator (both of whom are Republican):

    Spoiler tags to keep the post short.... (and I have no idea why the text is centered).



    Greetings Sen. -----------

    My name is ------- ------------, and I'm a constituent of your district, living in ------, PA. I recently learned of PA House Bill 1640, which appears to be yet another attempt to push religion into our public schools. I've read the text of the bill, and I'm rather surprised this made it past the House Education Committee.

    The bill legalizes and encourages public schools to prominently display "In God We Trust" in our public schools, with complete disregard to the large (and growing) number of voters who do not share religious views. According to the bill, the effort is to honor a 19th century Governor of Pennsylvania known as "The Great Christian Governor," in case there was any ambiguity as to exactly which institution of religion was being respected by the bill.

    And most dishearteningly, the bill literally encourages schools to have public school students (who are required to attend public schools by law) to participate in contests to demonstrate the best way to display the message that faith is being placed in God.

    There are many places where religious praise and worship is appropriate; even welcomed. But our public schools are not among them. Please leave the kids, and their public schools out of this, and vote against PA House Bill 1640.

    Regards,

    (my name and address)



    I received a reply today from my state representative. It was brief, polite, and I was a little surprised that he agreed with me:

    --------,

    I trust this e-mail finds you well.

    I actually agree with you and I do not believe the bill will become law as it did not in our prior session.

    One thing I must point out is that it is not a mandate. If it did become law, school district would not be required to
    display the motto. It would be their choice if they would wish to do so and there are not requirements attached to that, just recommendations in the bill ,, but again, no mandates or requirements.

    I am sure it will be brought to the House Floor, if it passes, although I do not intend to support it, I believe it will die in the Senate as it did last session.

    I trust this helps.

    Safe day,
    --------



    ... And I sent the following to him:

    Greetings again...

    I am pleased to hear that you plan to vote against the bill, and that you anticipate the bill will die in the Senate. I recognize that the bill is not a mandate. However, it empowers school officials to implement requirements and mandates for teachers (to coordinate the "contests" mentioned in the bill), and the students themselves, who would be forced to choose between participating in the exercise, or tacitly exposing their beliefs to their teachers and classmates.

    This collectively exposes their districts to multiple legal challenges that would cost them time and money; both of which are in tight supply these days.

    Thank you for insights and your prompt reply,

    Regards,

    ------ ----------


    So here's my question... Would it be wrong for me to forward this correspondence (unredacted) to the FFRF, to show that not all Republican legislators back these pieces of nonsense legislation. On the one hand, the e-mail was sent directly to me. On the other hand, he sent it in the capacity as a state legislator.

    Also, I welcome any comments on the actual bill and its intent.
    Speaking purely from a confidentiality point of view, unless this legislator marked this correspondence, "for your eyes only" then it can be forwarded, however, I would suggest you alert the writer as to your intent, as this is only courteous, however, you are in no way, shape or form obliged to keep it private. Again, only documents marked in such a manner hold the recipient responsible to that constraint.

    I read the bill, it reads like a lot of historical nonsense, so a governor who served in the mid 1800's is being honored by having this statement "In God we Trust" clearly emblazoned in schools. Hmmm, so who is God? that is a generic term, is it Yahweh? Jesus, Buddha? Allah?, Zeus, Thor? who?

    To me, this is inconsequential, however, it's creeping elegance; you cannot allow this to happen as:

    1) We are a diversified country, there can be no misunderstanding on that, we do not have a "state sponsored" religion, (lively conversation on that, ongoing on Thor's thread concerning the missing 28 pages from the 9/11 report)

    2) If Title IX funding is given to those schools, then there's a real threat to constitutionality of such a statement.

    3) We are NOT based on Judeo Christian beliefs, in fact, almost every symbol seen in Washington, including on Washington himself, speaks of Masonic beliefs, which are much more elevated than the typical Christo/Islam etc belief system.

    4) Our very foundation is religious FREEDOM,,, not the way it's interpreted by the right, but the freedom to worship as we as individuals see fit, or not to;

    One last comment, I had a neighbor who was from New Zealand, he was a real character, he was in the Royal Australian Navy in the sixties and seventies, as he put it to me one day as we solved the world's problem over our back fence, "Mah Dear,,, we got the convicts, you got the puritans, we made out better".

    Regards
    Pace
    Thanks from Djinn

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