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  • Dan Dredger wrote a new post, Shredding The First Amendment? 4 years, 3 months ago

    Photo credit: Shutterstock
    By Simon Brown
    Four years ago, officials at Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., decided they would like to resurface a playground at the church’s religious preschool – and tha […]

    • Church wants to receive tax dollars, but they don’t pay a penny in taxes? Playground on church property? Church’s problem to find money to maintain their own property. It would make more sense to have tax dollars fix my house – at least I pay taxes. Maybe the church could fix their playground with the money & energy they’re investing in this nonsense lawsuit.

    • @mr_dna

      Given that they are not required to employ teachers with teaching qualifications, or educational qualifications

      Australia has government teacher registration and legislative curriculum requirements. You can’t teach unless you have a Bachelor of Education degree, and you pass three yearly re-registration review, where you have to prove that you have completed the necessary professional development to stay up to date.

      What you describe with unqualified people teaching students is not possible in Australia. The threat of religion via religious schools is low. Most of the time, they have to teach curriculum, with an hour a week religious instruction (RI) and a prayer at assembly. The schools are subject to government inspection and must pass accreditation if they are to be licenced. No licence, no school.

      My children went through such a school, even though I am an atheist. The academic prowess of the school was renown and my children had worked out for themselves that gods don’t exist. They both did very well academically.

      So I feel for you concerns in the UK. Each country has its own idiosyncrasies. The Australian model of funding per student works well.

      As an aside, my daughter was appalled that she got an A for religion. She spent the whole year questioning the RI instructor asking skeptical questions He must have liked her approach. What really annoyed her was her brother got a C. The students could suggest material for discussion during RI. He suggested they watch Life of Brian. The teacher took it home to check, and only got through the Big Nose scene and deemed it inappropriate, so my son’s card was marked down.

    • David R Allen
      That was the state of education in the UK until quite recently. All the free school stuff has been brought in on a wave of guff about parents right to choose – which apparently means the right to stop their children getting access to state mandated minimum standards of education. But then they have to have inspections like any other school so Christian schools have been slated for teaching creationism and muslim schools for teaching non muslims are less worthy than muslims and segregating sexes.

      My daughter who is now seven goes to a Church of England school and continually complains that they bring prayer into everything. They recently did a project about world wide access to clean water. She said to me “we are told to pray to Jesus to make it better but I think he’s had plenty of time to do that and hasn’t so you know maybe we should just raise money and try and fix it ourselves?”

    • In Holland, both the primary and secondary (Up to mandatory 16th year attendance) schools are state funded (Taxpayer money), whether a school has a certain religious leaning or not. Government inspection checks the curriculum and the bias. On the whole, religion is in the dumps (Less than 17% of the population calls itself religious, vs 25% openly secular. The rest simply does not care). Since about 12 years, Saudi funding has crept into the islamic schools and mosques, which is a front for extremism. Luckily the inspection has closed these schools, or thrown out the teachers. Just goes to show that you can’t trust anything from islamic ilk, or any other religion for that matter

    • As far as I am concerned, if the State has a “green” program where they are encouraging citizens to use recycled materials for various purposes and they are giving a financial incentive to encourage people to participate, then it ABSOLUTELY should NOT matter who chooses to implement that. It could be a private church school or the local whorehouse or the local jail as far as I am concerned. It really does not matter. How you choose to surface your playground has nothing to do with religion or education!! I am not in favor of the State using tax money to support specific religious issues, but there are certain aspects of a church facility, like a school, where the religion part is irrelevant. For example the buildings must meet various safety standards. Does the separation of Church and State say that the State has no right to enforce building safety codes? Of course not! Only an idiot would think that. And in my opinion, it is equally stupid trying to claim that a certain private organization cannot participate in various State funded environmental programs because of the separation of Church and State. A religious organization has some aspects that are specifically covered under the separation of Church and State and has some other features that are quite independent of this since they are people and organizations living in the US and functioning in the secular aspect of the society.
      I am not religious, and I am hugely in favor of ensuring that science and reason are not impeded by people who get power in our country and then want to inflict their superstitions on other people. But that can work the other way too. I have mixed feelings about Richard Dawkins on these issues since it is not at all clear to me that he is actually looking at these problems objectively. But as a rational person, that is why I subscribed to the Center for Inquiry. I want to understand peoples views and to participate in discussion, and I really don’t like seeing people who claim to be rational, stuffing an atheist ideology down peoples throats. I don’t have a problem with the atheist part. Its the “ideology” part that gets under my skin.

    • @davidpun

      I have mixed feelings about Richard Dawkins on these issues since it is not at all clear to me that he is actually looking at these problems objectively.

      What is his riskiest piece of ideology…by way of illustration? How shared amongst New Atheists is it do you think?

      The problem with vague complaints is their vagueness. Maybe the issue is fixable?

    • The church has a real point when it claims it is being discriminated against. Churches are entitled to government assistance whenever such assistance is made freely available to all other applicants who meet the criteria for receiving it. If all businesses and public accommodations are eligible for government assistance for making a facility wheelchair accessible, shouldn’t churches be eligible as well? Should churches pay for police and firefighting services when every one else receives the same services without charge? Denying churches access to programs available to everyone else is the flip side of that other offensive practice, giving churches preferential tax status.

    • How you choose to surface your playground has nothing to do with religion or education!

      How you choose to surface your playground has nothing to do with religion or education!

      Actually it has a great deal to do with religion, if it is a church owned playground where children are encouraged to become church members or fed religious beliefs.

      @OP – Four years ago, officials at Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., decided they would like to resurface a playground at the church’s religious preschool.

      (I’m not sure if religious activities or “religious preschool”, could be described as “education”!)

    • mogee #14
      Mar 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Should churches pay for police and firefighting services when every one else receives the same services without charge?

      I think you have this backwards.

      Don’t you mean tax exempt churches receive police and fire services free, while other taxpayers pay for them?

      The church has a real point when it claims it is being discriminated against. Churches are entitled to government assistance whenever such assistance is made freely available to all other applicants who meet the criteria for receiving it.

      Really???

      Tax exempt Churches are (claiming to be) entitled to government assistance whenever such assistance is made freely available to all other taxpayers who meet the criteria for receiving it, – having previously contributed their taxes to to the state funds which are being redistributed to projects of public benefit.

    • Should churches pay for police and firefighting services when every one else receives the same services without charge?

      erm…taxes pay for these…

    • David R Tully – So, you’re Australian. What does Australian law have to do with a SCOTUS case? Your comment is irrelevant. Our Constitution, and traditions, are all about keeping religion strictly out of government. As a Commonwealth Nation Australia has a State Religion, and a monarch who is the head of that religion. Well last I checked, if I’m confusing you with Canada sorry. But applying Australian traditions about the Church and State in a discussion of American Constitutional Law is absurd, apples and oranges.

      Besides, you’re not much of an atheist if you’re OK with your taxes subsidizing religious recruitment in schools. Education should center on critical thinking skills, not superstition. Parents who want their children brainwashed are welcome to eschew public education for private, but knuckling under to some old man in a dress playing games with childrens schooling after taking parents money? In the States, we call that fraud.

      People are welcome to their religion, but not at the expense of the public purse. Trinity Lutheran is in for a shock when it has to start paying tax! These RW nutjob attorneys are so dreadful, they’ll lead these fools straight into that, over a few hundred dollars for a playground that should be under a separate incorporation. This whole lawsuit stinks of Kim Davis style put up job by people who would make the USA a theocracy.

    • Actually it’s David R Allen. BTW Tully is the wettest township in Australia.

      But Australia has the privilege of having a different social outlook from America. We see free education for all citizens as a right, to be funded by the taxpayer.

      A mere contrast of our different political and social systems. Nothing more. No comment on your perfect American Dream. Maybe something the US could aspire to.

      The second point I made, possibly not well enough, so I will make it again. Because religion in Australia probably runs around a 2/10 intensity compared to America’s 8/10 religious schools are no threat to the minds that attend. So you can safely send your children to a private Australian religious school, and apart from a prayer at assembly on Friday’s you wouldn’t notice anything different to our State schools.

      Did you know in our latest nationwide census, the fastest growing, and second only to the Catholics was atheists. Not NONE’s, or atheist lite agnostics. Real atheists. So religion has very little power or influence in Australian political life. How does that compare with the US. We have the occasional religious public figure, but they mostly just provide material for the stand up comics.

      So I am a little confused how you drew those conclusions from what I wrote at #1 above.

      We do not have a state religion. And we were almost a republic back in 2007(?) with the referendum only narrowly being defeat.

      p.s. Did you read my comment at #9. Maybe this would help explain your confusion.

    • There’s already a bill before the Missouri Senate which would exempt Religious Organizations from lawsuits based on their religious beliefs that they can discriminated against the LGBT community even though Same-Sex Marriages are now legal law of the land. If Religious Organizations want federal or state funds then they should be forced to abide by all laws and regulations of the US and state governments. In my book they can’t have it both ways.