And I want to drag something I wrote in my own comments section up to the front page. The Madison School District portrays Kwanzaa as something that belongs in government-run schools because it's a "culturally relevant practice," but:
Religion is a "culturally relevant practice."And:
It just doesn't belong in public schools.
I mean practicing it doesn't belong in public schools.I think this is such a solid point that the definition of religion — for these school-based Establishment Clause cases — should be built around the idea that the compulsory attendance coerced in the name of education should not be exploited to capture the part of the child's mind that turns to God when the child is religious. All human beings have this aspect of their minds, whether they are religious or not, and the state's power does not belong there. When we see devotional exercises in public schools we should be revolted.
It's fine and even desirable to teach children about the various religious traditions. It's part of history and social studies, and it should be taught competently and with a fact-based approach, not infused with promptings to feel inspired and devoted.
Background note: In the most relevant Supreme Court case (which is in a somewhat different context), the Court spoke of religion as "a sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those [religions] admittedly qualifying for the exemption." (The context was conscientious objection from the military draft.) The value of the Court's definition was that it avoided making distinctions and favored equal treatment under the laws.