KENTUCKY — A teacher in Laurel County at South Laurel High School wrote the following on her white board at a public school: “You can’t be a Democrat & go to Heaven.”
We all know that religious displays by public officials — such as teachers — aren’t legal. However, this one crosses the bounds of just angering atheists into angering nearly everyone. A statement such as that is blatantly offensive. The Sentinel-Echo reports:
A student in her classroom took a photo of the white board, turning it in to the Laurel County Board of Education and the Sentinel-Echo.
According to Superintendent Doug Bennett, the accused teacher, Kendra Baker, heard the statement from a student then proceeded to write it on her board. The statement was not a part of the curriculum or lesson plan and was a blatant opinion following the recent Presidential election.
“She wrote it on her own, and she wanted to write it on the board. She realized it was inappropriate,” Bennett said.
Baker is in her 17th year in teaching high school, and this is her ninth year teaching at South. Her courses include psychology, civics, world history, U.S. history, economics, and sociology. Since the incident, Baker’s statement has spread discord among students and parents via social media.
She was in violation of district policies that say that “teachers have the responsibility to develop positive self-concepts, self-confidence in order to respect the worth and dignity of others; clarify their values; and make choices that lead to responsible citizenship.”
She was not punished aside from being reprimanded and having to apologize to her students, which was definitely sufficient punishment for someone that attempted to undermine the Constitution, spoke to children that she is responsible for the education of about her personal religious in an inappropriate manner and offended at least one of them enough to make them go to the news with it. Not. It remains more important than ever that stories such as this come to light.
This incident serves as a reminder to another story about Kentucky, which reveals that in that state it is technically possible to criminally prosecute someone for being an atheist.
This comes right after the 2012 presidential election, which has been one of the most politically charged times in recent memory. Sadly, it seems that these days the opinion written on the board — “You can’t be a Democrat and go to heaven” — is one shared by many on the right, as the political left tries to encourage secularist policies (in line with the Constitution) and is accused of Godlessness (and some of us are. Why does it matter?). If a teacher had written the opposite, that Republicans don’t go to heaven, the uproar would be enormous, just as it would if someone wrote something that encourage a religion other than Christianity.
No part of Kendra Baker’s actions are excusable.