Rick Casey, and this blogger, has an issue with Humble ISD’s preying on students to pray.
“Is there any way you could be a part of this event with one of your choirs performing at the start and finish of the event?” Sconzo was charmingly non-defensive in discussing the e-mail and the subsequent prayer service, at which about 80 members of a combined girls’ choir and a color guard from the Junior ROTC were taken in a school bus to perform as part of a religious event.
“In my mind, I overtly stated that if for any reason, the choir couldn’t perform that would be OK,” said Sconzo. He said he thought that and the fact that it was before school hours took care of any church-state issues. He assumed that the girls would be allowed to opt out, but made no effort to ensure they would be.
I don’t know how Sconzo reacted when he was a teacher and the superintendent asked him for a favor, but it’s hardly surprising that in response to such phrases as “if at all possible!” and “Is there any way” from his boss’s boss, Dixon simply marshaled the girls and got them there.
One mother, who asked not to be named because her daughter doesn’t want to deal with being a dissenter, said it clearly wasn’t voluntary.
“I can’t imagine many 15-year-olds volunteering at 6:30 in the morning when they didn’t have to go to school that day until almost 9:30,” she wrote.
Already skating on cracked Constitutional ice, Sconzo even joined in with his own proselityzing.
And the girls watched Superintendent Sconzo take the microphone to ask the Lord “that we never ever take our eye off what is most important, Father, to you and to us, and that’s to have each and every one of our children feel cared for and nurtured to learn every day. Father, in your Son’s name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.”
And this is what perturbs about some local Dems voting for the republinut school board members this past election (even the one that says she voted for Obama).
Church-State lines are drawn for a reason, and in this case, even if one child and parent felt uncomfortable with the whole situation, it should not have occured.
As promised, Casey provides the school chief some required reading.
The document goes on to say that school staff may “take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities.”
But Sconzo not only arranged for the girls (and a JROTC color guard) to attend the prayer session in his official capacity, but also specifically presented a prayer at the event representing the category of “education” as the Humble ISD superintendent.
The opening of his prayer confirmed the identity in which he was praying: “Heavenly Father, we here thank you for the 34,000 gifts you give us every school day in the form of your children.”
“That’s clearly in violation of the Constitution,” said Douglas Laycock, a longtime constitutional scholar at the University of Texas Law School who is now at the University of Michigan.
He stressed that court rulings prohibiting school officials from leading prayers do not interfere with religion.
“It’s a protection,” he said. “It looks like interference only to people who are in an overwhelming majority.”
Or who think they are.