School Asks Parents, ‘Does Your Son Have To Be Buddhist?’

How would you feel if this was happening every day while taking your child to school?

Every day, driving the same route … he would get upset and tell me, ‘Pull over, I’m going to throw up.’ What the kicker was is when he told me that he’d rather die than go to school.

Those words come from Sharon Lane, a Buddhist whose children go to school in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. The cause of her sons distress, a school system which pushed Christianity as part of the curriculum. Here is a picture of a line from a science test given her son, as reported by Al Jazeera.

On a science test, an extra credit question aimed to push a religious viewpoint. Not once, but with alarming regularity. According to his step-sister, who was in the science class with the student:

She called him stupid, because he believed another religion and he didn’t know all about Christianity.

As a Buddhist, raised in a Buddhist family, there is no reason for him to have needed to know the answer the teacher was seeking. To berate or penalize him for not knowing Christian dogma is to go against the founding principles of this nation.

The last straw for the parents came when the school began to issue praise over the schools PA system for their religious values. According to his mother,

It’s an abusive situation. When I send my kids to school, I’m expecting them to receive an education, not an indoctrination.

And when she went to the school principal, the response she had was quite disheartening. The school’s administrators’ attitudes were simple – if they didn’t like it, leave. The district superintendent claimed that they had the right to do so due to where they lived, according to Ms. Lane.

I said, ‘We live in the United States of America … This is not a totally different country,’” Sharon Lane remembered. “And she goes, ‘But you are in the Bible Belt.’

She realized that she could not manage to convince the school to follow the US Constitution when the superintendent reportedly asked her, “Does he have to be Buddhist?”

Unable to convince the school to follow the law, she turned to the ACLU for help. The court order as agreed to by the school this past March has put other schools on notice that religious instruction in the classroom has no place in our society. As said by Heather Weaver, the senior Attorney for the ACLU on this case:

Part of religious liberty is not only the right to practice your faith, but it’s the right to be free from government’s influence on your faith.

When the case was brought forward, Louisiana’s Governor, Bobby Jindal, attempted to deflect the issue, and refused to actually address the constitutional violations which had gone on. This reflected badly on his administration, for both sides of the issue. Even The American Conservative magazine admitted that the school district was wrong to allow its teachers and staff to push religion on to the student body. While admitting their preference for Christian teachings, they saw the school district crossing the line from mere adherents to fundamentalists who were actively seeking damage upon those who were unbelievers.

The school board which caused this lawsuit, and the penalties thereof, is currently up for election, with three seats being competed for. The community needs to ask themselves, if they let this issue progress to the point that the only resolution was a lawsuit, what other issues are they failing to address? It could have been handled early on, by simply adhering to the US Constitution and the foundations it is built upon. They chose to not only ignore the issue, but to blame the victim for not adhering to their narrow form of religious dogma. As a result, the parish has been penalized needlessly.

Wake up America, before it is too late, and you have lost your freedoms to those who would seek to use the state to strip them away, as what was attempted here in Louisiana.