In a 17-page June 27 opinion, the state panel declined to “second guess the appropriateness” of the curriculum approved by the Montgomery County Board of Education. Instead, the state panel said it could reverse the county’s action only if it violated the law. And after reviewing more than a dozen claims alleged by curriculum opponents, the state board found no violation.
It was the strongest victory to date for Montgomery educators in a pitched legal battle over the county’s sex-education curriculum, which has been under revision for five years in an effort to introduce sexual orientation as a topic for discussion in health classes.
“The State Board rejected each and every legal challenge brought by the opponents and determined that there was no valid reason to overturn our decision,” said Nancy Navarro (Northeastern County), the county school board president, in a statement. She voiced hope that litigation would “finally come to an end.”
A spokeswoman for the community group Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, which led a consortium of opposition groups, said it was too soon to say whether it might take the matter to federal court. “There are many parents here in Montgomery County who are opposed to the curriculum,” Michelle Turner said. She also said a growing number of parents outside the county are expressing concern with the lessons, which could be adopted in other Maryland counties.
“I wish we had had an opportunity to address the board,” she said. The state panel ruled in a closed session. Seven board members signed the opinion; four abstained.
The Montgomery school system’s first attempt at a new curriculum was halted in 2005 by a federal judge who faulted teacher materials that criticized religious fundamentalism. The lessons were recast from scratch.
This year, the revised curriculum survived an initial appeal to State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. She refused to halt field tests but noted that arguments were “balanced equally on each side,” which encouraged the school board’s legal opponents.
Opposition groups argued that the new lessons violate free-speech rights of students by expressing only one viewpoint on homosexuality, wholly favorable, and that they restrict religious expression by suppressing the view that homosexuality is a sin. They said the lessons violate the constitutional right of equal protection by excluding the perspective of former homosexuals and also the fundamental right of a parent to control the upbringing of a child.
The state school board dismissed each argument in turn. Local school boards are not required to show all viewpoints in writing curriculum; nothing in the lessons prevents the ideologically opposed from “adhering to their religious beliefs about homosexual acts.” The ruling noted that parents must give written consent for their children to take the lessons.
And although a parent does have a right to control the upbringing of a child, “that right is not absolute. It must bend to the State’s duty to educate its citizens,” the state board wrote… –excerpted from an article by Daniel de Vise Washington Post Staff writer, 7.4.07
What God said…
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. —1 Corinthians 6: 9 – 11
More news from ‘The Religion of Peace’
Thai authorities said Friday they have shut down an Islamic school with alleged links to separatist rebels in the nation’s restive south, where three people were killed in fresh unrest.
The licence for the Islam Burapha religious school was revoked after seven bomb makers were arrested there on Monday, said Natthaphon Vichienpres, deputy governor of Narathiwat province.
Narathiwat is one of three Muslim-majority provinces where more than 2,300 people have been killed since an insurgency broke out in January 2004.
“A provincial meeting agreed that this school is a gathering place for planning terrorist attacks and it implanted separatist ideology and used the school premises as a training ground,” Natthaphon told reporters.
An eighth man, a 43-year-old religious teacher, was also arrested Friday in connection with the boy’s boarding school. — an AFP report from Narathiwat Thailand as found at Jihadwatch. 7.07.07
Point of origin
When push comes to shove–when we have to make real-life decisions and not theoretical ones–we know that at least in America, the dominant Judeo-Christian values and the religions that adhere to them have generally made better people. This does not mean that all religious Jews and Christians in America have been, or are today, good people, and it certainly does not mean that all irreligious people are bad. It means simply that if our lives were hanging in the balance, we would be inexpressively happy to know that 10 men we did not know, walking toward us in a bad neighborhood, had just come out of a Bible class. But that is no small thing. And nothing has ever replaced that book and the American religious expressions based on it to make good people in the same numbers that it has. –Dennis Prager, as quoted in the Patriot Post Vol. 7 No. 27
Faith Under Fire – Germany silences pro-lifers, homeschoolers, creationists
Crime is ‘incitement of the people,’ court rules in ordering prison term
A 55-year-old Lutheran pastor has been found guilty of “volksverhetzung” or “incitement of the people” by a German court and will spend a year in jail after an Erlangen court claimed he made a statement denying the Holocaust suffered by the Jews at the hands of Nazi-Germany during World War II.
Johannes Lerle compared Germany’s abortion rate of 150,000 annually to the murder of Jews in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.
According to Life Site, though the pastor has been jailed for anti-abortion activities in the past, his current one-year jail term stemmed specifically from charges of Holocaust denial and not from his statements comparing abortion to the Nazi Holocaust, as it claims news sources erroneously reported.
However, Lerle has faced prison time in the past for voicing his opposition to abortion.
“Previously, he had been jailed for eight months for calling abortionists ‘professional killers.’ An allegation which the court ruled to be slanderous because the court says the unborn are not human,” an anonymous pro-life activist in Germany told Salem Voice Ministries. –excerpted from an article at the Free Republic website by Chelsea Schilling of WorldNetDaily.com, 6.28.07 as submitted by Andy Foster
San Diego makes a woeful mark twice —
1) San Diego Padres Forget the Children by Upholding Perversion
Biblical Family Advocates is greatly disappointed in the decision of the San Diego Padres to allow an Official Gay Pride Event to take place at PETCO Park on July 8th. According to the San Diego Pride Website, it states that “San Diego Pride supporters and volunteers will be recognized as well as the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego who will sing the National Anthem on Sunday, July 8 at the San Diego Padres game at PETCO Park in the heart of downtown San Diego.” –excerpted from an article at the Christian Newswire 7.03.07 as submitted by Muriel McConnon
2) San Diego School Schedules Muslim Prayer Break
Attorneys ask for similar consideration for Christian and Jewish students.
After Muslim students were given a scheduled prayer break each day, the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is calling for the same accommodation for other students who wish to pray.
Officials at San Diego’s Carver Elementary allow Muslim students a 15-minute prayer break each afternoon. Non-Muslim students are instructed to read or write during the break.
Attorney Pete Lepiscopo, a PJI-affiliated attorney, sent a letter last week to the San Diego Board of Education that explains numerous statutory provisions that affirm students’ rights of religious equality. Lepiscopo requested that classrooms be set aside for students and employees of all faiths to meet their religious obligations to pray — as is being done for Muslim students.
“The school district has created the opportunity to return prayer to school,” he said. “What can be better than children praying while they are in school?”
Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst with Focus on the Family Action, said as long as the school adheres to two constitutional guidelines, a designated time of prayer would be legal.
“First, no teachers could lead prayer or pray with students — everything must be voluntary by the students,” he said. “Second, the school would have to make the same religious accommodation available for those of all other religions.”
In order to ensure that all religious exercise is voluntary, the letter suggests that the prayer times coincide with recess.
Brad Dacus, president of PJI, said voluntary, student-initiated prayer in schools should not be controversial.
“The federal courts have held that schools do not endorse everything they fail to censor,” he said. “This could be a terrific opportunity for a whole community to recognize the importance of faith in our youth, without government involvement or interference.”–from an article by Wendy Cloyd, at the Focus on the Family website, 7.02.07, as submitted by Mark Zaveson.