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Atheist News by Edwin Kagin

KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: April 23, 2009

Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 666, Union, KY 41091; Email: ekagin@atheists.org

Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web: http://www.atheists.org/ky/

Editor’s personal web site: www.edwinkagin.com

Editor’s personal blog: http://edwinkagin.blogspot.com

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

What Is An ATHEIST?

“ANOTHER THINKING HUMAN ENGAGED IN SEEKING TRUTH”
(Edwin Kagin, 2008)

To Unidentified Recipients:

They just won’t stop. What part of “no” don’t they understand?

Happy 445th birthday William Shakespeare. I do not think these happenings would surprise you one bit.

Edwin.

From reader David Kong:

San Leandro Times – Thursday, April 23, 2009

Trustee’s Wife: No Religious Songs in School

By : Amy Sylvestri : 4/23/09

Margarita Lacabe enjoyed her daughter’s performance in the McKinley Elementary School holiday show last December — children signing secular favorites like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” when she was shocked by the choir’s next tune.

“The children were singing and they were all regular Christmas songs, but then I heard ‘Silent Night,’” said Lacabe. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Lacabe, who is the wife of School Board President Mike Katz-Lacabe and mother of two, said that she objects to the religious theme of the song because she and her family are atheists. She said that songs like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” are more inoffensive because, while they are in celebration of a Christian holiday, they don’t feature overtly Christian lyrics.

“To me, there is a huge difference between what is cultural and what is religious,” said Lacabe. “Songs like ‘Feliz Navidad’ or even ‘Dreidel, Dreidel’ are about the cultural celebration of the holidays, whereas ‘Silent Night’ is sung in churches as a religious hymn. It is ridiculous to say it has one meaning in a church and then bring it out of a church and say it means something else.”

Lacabe was so incensed by the song that she left the auditorium while the children were still singing and spoke with McKinley Principal Cher Mott.

“I was so incredibly mad,” said Lacabe. “She said that she hadn’t seen the song book and I asked her to please refrain from teaching religious songs to my daughter. We had a conversation that didn’t really go anywhere.”

Lacabe said the McKinley music teacher Kathy Maier said she would remove the song from the rest of the seasonal holiday curriculum, but would not commit to permanently getting rid of it.

Some would say that teaching a Christian song is an example of celebrating one of many different cultures present in public schools. But Lacabe said that, because Christianity is so prevalent, teaching it becomes a form of indoctrination.

“They are not teaching Muslim songs, or Wiccan, or Pagan, they are not teaching atheist songs, if they are supposed to be teaching different cultures,” said Lacabe.

She suggested R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” as an example of a song with atheistic themes and suggested a web site full of songs that are from an atheist perspective.

In a follow-up email, Lacabe also acknowledged that, while some religious songs are holiday “classics,” they need to be put in context if they are going to be sung at public schools.

“Moreover, the song ‘Silent Night’ was taught without any cultural context whatsoever. (My daughter) was not told the history of the song… wasn’t at any point told that just because a song says something, it doesn’t mean it is true,” wrote Lacabe. “Children her age are very easy to influence. We tell them to listen to their teachers, so when the teachers tell them that jesus is the savior, they have no reason to not believe it… this is true of other songs — think of how many kids believe in rudolph the red nose reindeer or frosty the snowman.”

After asking McKinley staff to not teach her daughter religious music, Lacabe was disappointed that they would not make a blanket change of their policy, so she filed a complaint with the district. At this point she is considering either bringing the issue up to the school board or school the district.

Lacabe added that she believes that the school was aware of her atheism, because when her daughter was in kindergarten last year she fought to have the words “Under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. She believes that the school knew about her atheism and purposefully ignored it.

“I feel they did it intentionally to indoctrinate my daughter in Christianity,” said Lacabe. “They are discriminating against my daughter because she is not a Christian and that discrimination is against the constitution of the state of California.” Lacabe and her husband both acknowledge that putting the issue before the school board will be awkward for Katz-Lacabe as board president.

“I agree with her and, of course, I support her because she is my wife, but since I am on the board, I would of course recuse myself form any hearing,” said Katz-Lacabe. “This is an issue that is between my wife and the board.”

Katz-Lacabe was also at the concert, but declined to discuss his personal reaction to the song. McKinley Principal Mott and music teacher Maier did not return calls for comment. The school district office said that they have a no-discrimination policy but didn’t comment specifically on the Lacabe complaint.

School board trustees Diana Prola and Morgan Mack-Rose said that they would deal with the issue as it happens and currently are not familiar enough with the case to offer opinions.

Meanwhile, Margarita Lacabe said that she may pursue the possibility of a legal injunction on the “Silent Night” matter, as well her complaint about the Pledge of Allegiance, depending on the results of other similar lawsuits in the state. But for now, her daughter continues to say the pledge every Wednesday morning at an assembly with the rest of the school.

“She is seven-years-old and wants to be like everyone else,” said Lacabe. “Basically, that is what I’m talking about. When you have this type of indoctrination, you are telling a group of kids that, because they don’t believe in the same things, they are not like everyone else.”

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/99844

Atheists Hail Florida Decision Protecting Third Graders From Religious Proselytizing

National Desk
April 23, 2009

An Atheist state-church separation group has heralded a decision by a Federal Judge that struck down a move by a Florida grade school to include an overtly religious song in an end-of-year assembly.

This past week, Judge Harvey E. Schlesinger ruled that teachers and officials at the Webster School in St. Johns County acted improperly by having third-grade youngsters practice “In God We Still Trust,” composed by the country singing group Diamond Rio. Judge Schlesinger opined that students had their First Amendment rights violated when they were forced to choose between performing “proselytizing” and “sectarian” music or skipping their school assembly. He described the song as “espousing a specific religious viewpoint and attacking those who do not share in the same belief.”

Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, praised the ruling but regretted the need for legal intervention.

“It has been over 46 years when coercive prayer and other religious exercises in our public schools was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Buckner. “We still see evidence that some teachers and school officials flaunt the law, and are attempting to enlist our children in religious proselytizing and indoctrination.”

Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists also praised the ruling.

It would be difficult to find a more blatant violation of the First Amendment prohibition against government establishing religion than a song requiring public school children to sing “”There’s no separation.

We’re one nation under Him …… Now it’s time for all believers to make our voices heard.”

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

New song at Webster draws 2nd injunction

Religious lyrics bring school more trouble

By MARCIA LANE
marcia.lane@staugustine.com
Publication Date: 04/22/09
Attorneys are seeking to halt teaching of a song they call a “blatantly sectarian and proselytizing religious song” to third-graders at The Webster School until the case can go to court.
This is the second time in less than a month that attorneys asked the United States District Court in Jacksonville for a preliminary injunction to stop a song at Webster.
School district officials said they knew nothing about the amended complaint until contacted by The St. Augustine Record Tuesday evening.
“Our attorney (Frank Upchurch) had not heard of it. No one knew about it,” said Margie Davidson, spokeswoman for the St. Johns County School District.
Attempts to reach Superintendent Joe Joyner were unsuccessful.
The amended complaint, filed Tuesday, comes less than a week after a federal judge ruled the School District, a school principal and two teachers violated two students’ First Amendment rights by making them choose between practicing what he called a “proselytizing” and “sectarian” country music song for an end-of-the-year assembly or sitting out the performance.
The song was “In God We Still Trust,” released in 2005 by Diamond Rio. Two parents and their third-graders filed a lawsuit in protest in March.
The teachers and principal said in affidavits the children were told participation in the assembly was voluntary and the children did not have to sing the song.
The case still must go to trial.
On Tuesday attorneys Bill Sheppard and Gray Thomas sought another preliminary injunction for a second tune also being taught to third-graders at Webster. They’re asking the judge to order the school to stop having the pupils sing the song until the judge can decided if they should be prohibited from learning it in school.
Theyre also asking the judge to rule, as in the first case, that their constitutional rights were violated by making them either learn a song that runs counter to their religious beliefs or be ostracized by their classmates.
This injunction request named the school board, Joyner, the principal and three teachers, including the music teacher.
At issue this time is the music teacher’s introduction of “Chatter With the Angels,” a song the suit calls “sectarian” and “proselytizing.”
The suit claims directing the students to rehearse or perform the “Chatter” song constitutes “retaliation against Plaintiffs for their having instituted” the case for “In God We Trust.”
The injunction ruling came April 15. Webster began teaching the song on April 20, according to the amended complaint.
Chatter with the Angels
Soon in the morning
Chatter with the Angels
In that land!
Chatter with the Angels
Soon in the Morning
Chatter with the Angels
Join that Band!
I hope to join that band and
Chatter with the Angels
All day long!
I hope to join that band and
Chatter with the Angels
All day long!
Chatter with the Angels
Soon in the morning
Chatter with the Angels
In that land!
Chatter with the Angels
Soon in the Morning
Chatter with the Angels
Join that Band!
I hope to join that band and
Chatter with the Angels
All day long!
I hope to join that band and
Chatter with the Angels
All day long!
6
Chatter with the Angels
Soon in the Morning
Chatter with the Angels
In that land!
Chatter with the Angels
Soon in the morning
Chatter with the Angels
Join that Band!
I hope to join that band and
Chatter with the Angels
All day long!
I hope to join that band and
Chatter with the Angels
All day long!
Chatter with the angels all day long.

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© The St. Augustine Record

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