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Jul 30 2013

No, a Parent Can’t Preach on School Steps

A public high school in Concord, New Hampshire is not going to allow a parent to pray and read the Bible aloud on the steps of the school when students are arriving, as they apparently did for months previously. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter about it, which finally prompted them to stop it.

School officials have told the mother of two high school students that she may no longer deliver speeches on the front steps of Concord High School as students enter the building each morning.

Lizarda Urena’s speeches were in the form of prayers and Bible readings. Superintendent Christine Rath said they won’t be allowed to resume in the fall.

The ADF has a profoundly absurd position on it:

A lawyer for a group that defends religious speech says if the school district didn’t initially object to Urena speaking at the Concord High front door, and later responded to the content of her speech, then it has engaged in illegal viewpoint discrimination.

“Students and community members that are allowed to come on campus and participate in a neutral thing are allowed to express religious viewpoints,” said Matthew Sharp, general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. “The students know it’s the mother and her own speech — something that the First Amendment protects — and that it is not the school mandating this woman to do it.”

Nonsense. No one should ever be allowed to stand on school property and give a speech on any subject to students except at the invitation of the school. The content is irrelevant. It would be just as inappropriate if it was a parent giving a political talk or reading out of the classified section for that matter. And I guarantee you that if this parent was reading from the Quran and reciting Muslim prayers, the ADF would not only not be defending her, it would be throwing a tantrum about it. That’s the difference between, say, the ACLU and the ADF; the latter would be opposed to this regardless of the religion, while the ADF is only in favor of it if it’s a Christian.

Concord’s School Board President Kassandra Ardinger supports Rath’s decision.

“To be fair to all the kids in the school, it is probably best for the principal to say that she shouldn’t be speaking out like this and proselytizing on school grounds,” Ardinger said. “The best mode of action was to tell her to cool it.”

Then why didn’t you stop it for months until someone complained?

24 comments

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  1. 1
    Synfandel

    That’s the difference between, say, the ACLU and the ADF; the latter would be opposed to this regardless of the religion, while the ADF is only in favor of it if it’s a Christian.

    That would be the former.

  2. 2
    raven

    This is cosmically stupid.

    1. Why does god care where Urena prays? The location shouldn’t matter. The xian god is claimed to be all knowing. She could pray for the students in a closet, coffee house, church, or her living room.

    It’s not praying, it’s religious theater!!!

    2. Would the school let Wiccans or Pagans perform a protective spell on the steps of the school every morming? How about Moslems praying and reading the Koran.

    The people that run this school and the school board are idiots to let this happen.

  3. 3
    americanproject

    What was this wingnut preaching and lecturing about? Let me guess… SEX and why it’s evil. Blah blah blah sex sex sex control control control

  4. 4
    raven

    The people that run this school and the school board are idiots to let this happen.

    For more than one reason.

    My local school tightly controls the access to the school by anyone not a student or staff.

    This is a security precaution. They don’t want to make it easy for random strangers to walk in with guns and kill a few dozen kids.

    It’s actually worked at least once that I know of. Some guy tried to gain access. They did a background check. He was a pedophile who had just gotten out of prison for stalking kids in a school for dubious reasons. Last I heard, the police were looking for him to ask him just why he was trying to get into the school.

    Since xian kook Urena has no good reason to hang around the school every day, they should have told her to go pray somewhere else the first day.

    The big hazards to the kids in the Concord school are the dumb bunnies that run it.

  5. 5
    aroough

    Ed: Sent you the latest from Concord Monitor earlier today under a different post. Best regards. Ar

  6. 6
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Then why didn’t you stop it for months until someone complained?

    Probably because no-one complained. If no-one seemed to notice or be concerned, why not allow Lizarda Urena to do as she pleased? When people are affected it becomes a different matter but until then it’s too trivial to bother about.

  7. 7
    Larry

    If the nut job moved from school property to the sidewalk or road in front of the school, she could pray to her heart’s content. Of course, the vast majority of students who walk by her would mock and ridicule her for a few days just as they had been doing but she would be constitutionally protected. After that, she would be ignored, just as she had been.

  8. 8
    Matt G

    How embarrassing for her kids!

  9. 9
    Modusoperandi

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn…”

  10. 10
    Eric Ressner

    sc_blahblah @6:

     

    Then why didn’t you stop it for months until someone complained?

    Probably because no-one complained.

    So then, this whole “do the right thing” thing is like totally passé now?

  11. 11
    kevinbeck

    It would be nice if my alma mater could garner attention for things other than 1) having a schoolteacher killed on a space shuttle (that happened my sophomore year), 2) a “grinding” controversy, and 3) this.

  12. 12
    Marcus Ranum

    I wish we could get Marilyn Manson to stand on the other side and sign autographed “fuck jesus” tshirts…

  13. 13
    freehand

    Dear sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d:

    Are you kidding? It would take a terrific amount of courage in many cases for a child or his/her family to object. Assaults, vandalism, threats, harassing phone calls, even occasional deaths have resulted from someone standing up for their minority rights. Besides, this is illegal. We don’t want our government schools clashing with the constitution, do we?

  14. 14
    billdaniels

    Her name is Lizarda Urena? Really? Was it changed from Reptile Piss?

  15. 15
    exdrone

    Lizarda vs Superintendant Rath sounds like a graphic novel to me.

  16. 16
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    It would take a terrific amount of courage in many cases for a child or his/her family to object.

    What, to tell the headteacher they don’t like it? Even if all of the horrible consequences you list- “Assaults, vandalism, threats, harassing phone calls, even occasional deaths”- were likely to take place, a complaint to the headteacher would mean people who might carry out these threats would not know who complained. If Ms Urena does not interrupt lessons or upset people then she achieves nothing but to embarrass her children, as someone pointed out. Until someone complains, she is committing a victimless crime; when someone is upset or annoyed by her behaviour it becomes more serious, but not until then.
    There was a recent instance in London of a street-preacher who addressed people with a loud-hailer. When he got a new and louder instrument people were annoyed- they didn’t mind being damned, but they didn’t want to be painfully loudly damned. In the end he was persuaded to turn the volume down to its old level and he continues to happily damn sinners and sinners still happily ignore him.

  17. 17
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Lizarda.

    Lizarda.

    Sounds like the monster in a bad Kaiju flick…

  18. 18
    cactuswren

    Look at the illustration for this article. In a very real sense she’s doing ceremonial magic, a little ritual of calling down magical protections on the school.

  19. 19
    dan4

    @6: “Probably because no one complained.”

    Irrelevant, considering that Mrs. Ardinger’s justification for supporting Mrs. Rath’s decision to ban Mrs. Urena’s school grounds speechmaking (“…she shouldn’t be speaking out like this and proselytizing on school grounds…”) wasn’t dependent on whether anyone at the school complained or not. In that context, Ed’s question (“Then why didn’t you stop it for months until someone complained?”) is a perfectly legitimate one.

  20. 20
    throwaway

    Until someone complains, she is committing a victimless crime

    And as already stated, people are even afraid to come forward in any respect due to the ostracization readily felt by those who’ve followed similar avenues of approach in the past. Yours is not the reasonable measure for the sole reason that such fear exists dues to their having occurred. The intimidation, rather terrorization, of minority faiths by the majority is well documented. You can only attempt to overlook it to assert your point that it is indeed victimless, but you cannot address it head-on except by hypothetical “complain to a teacher and no one gets hurt.”

  21. 21
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Ed’s question (“Then why didn’t you stop it for months until someone complained?”) is a perfectly legitimate one.

    And what I think is the likely reason- “No-one was affected and we had other things to do.”- is a perfectly valid response. It is not the legality of Ms Urena’s actions but their unimportance that is- well- important, I think. I hope that before resorting to legal action at least someone tried quietly taking her to one side and saying: “You’re making a spectacle of yourself, embarrassing your children and making the school’s job harder and it doesn’t persuade anyone of the truth of what you say. Go away and don’t be so silly.” It would have saved a lot of bother if it had worked and confirmed she had no sense of proportion if it didn’t.

    Well, throwaway, feels safe and welcome at FTBConscience!, “complain to a teacher and no one gets hurt.” turned out to be true here. That’s what the Freedom From Religion Foundation did. The fact that an unspecified number of unspecified occasions where “intimidation, rather terrorization, of minority faiths by the majority” has taken place does not mean it will inevitably or even probably take place in other instances. What is your evidence that Ms Urena was expressing a majority opinion, anyway?

  22. 22
    throwaway

    Your proposal that there needs be identification and knowledge of a victim, whereby they could proclaim her actions wrong, was the only subject I touched upon in my comment. Your question is irrelevant.

    My claims about the fear of backlash from a community of the majority faith is rational, even in spite of your want for “statistics” about the rate of something which no entity tracks in such minute detail. The burden of proving that such fear is justifiable based on statistical analyses is simply red herring, especially when I know of no such agency which tracks such statistics as this. But there are national spectacles which are sucking points for the tendentious behavior of members of majority faiths, i.e. Jessica Ahlquist and Rhys Morgan are two names that readily come to mind, who, in each of their respective countries (and even internationally to some degree due to the Internet), which do not give lie to the fears of an individual making their feelings known.

    There doesn’t need to be an outcry for there to be a victim. Some put up with it as a matter of convenience to themselves or their family. The measure of offense does not require an example of a victim when the ‘right’ does not exist to do something in the first place.

  23. 23
    Raging Bee

    How embarrassing for her kids!

    That may be the perp’s intent: make sure her kids are so ostracised that they’d never make any friends outside of her tiny circle of loonies.

  24. 24
    kevinbeck

    Check out this burst of cluelessness from a kid who graduated from Concord High School last month. This is the best part:

    “What difference exists between the Freedom From Religion group and the Westboro Baptist Church? Nothing. Both are groups that dislike other groups’ mantras – protected by law – and will do anything to silence the expression of ideas they don’t like. They are bullies. It goes without saying that.”

    Right. I can’t stand either the Westboro Baptist Church or pickled beets, therefore they’re exactly the same thing. It goes without saying that.

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