The citizens of Lebanon, Missouri, rally around their principal and their god

June 7, 2014 • 11:00 am

I’m not sure that the citizens of Lebanon, Missouri realize that they’ve got a Constitution problem on their hands. Not only are they vociferously defending principal Lowery’s prayer to God at the Lebanon High School graduation, but they’ve started a Facebook page in his defense.

Now it’s fine for a community to support its beloved principal, but it’s not all right—with me, at least—to both openly praise his violation of the law, and do so defiantly.  And, in the process, they continue to document that Lowery’s graduation speech was not a one-off thing, but part of a pattern of long-term religious proselytizing in that school. In so doing, they’re just providing potential ammunition for a lawsuit.

But take a look first at the “Standing strong with Kevin Lowery” Facebook page. Here’s the banner, complete with crosses and a sentence from Lowery’s graduation prayer (after his “moment of silence,” he proceeded to tell the students that he used his moment to pray to God).

Lowery FB

The latest picture from the page:

10297570_290526177795015_5677312450211972918_n

And some new comments, selected pretty much at random. The first one’s a doozy:

Screen shot 2014-06-07 at 12.33.59 PM

They aren’t allowed to be openly Christian? Of course they are! They just can’t foist their beliefs on a captive audience while acting as an agent of the government. Somehow the distinction escapes them. . .

But wait! There’s more!:

Screen shot 2014-06-07 at 12.31.14 PM

Uh oh. . . look here:

Screen shot 2014-06-07 at 12.33.06 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-07 at 12.35.02 PM

Do these people realize what they’re doing? Are they too thick to see that they’re documenting an illegal pattern of behavior? Or don’t they care?

From another public Facebook page, “Lebanon underground breaking news”, sent by a resident who omitted last names. People are furious at the school board for supposedly making Lowery apologize, although he said he apologized on his own:

“Sad day for Lebanon I for one think this community would have stood behind our school and our principle. Just another case of caving …it’s no wonder we as Christians have no voice. As soon as pressure is put on we deny our God and our Freedoms. I already sent an email to R3 letting them know how I felt I encourage you to do the same. Matthew 10: 33”
-Stephanie

“An APOLOGY?! SCREW THAT! I understand their reasoning I guess, but in no way will i EVER apologize for my faith! What a bunch of petty ridiculousness this is!”
-Jeff

“So sad that we live in such a “politically correct” world that we would feel it necessary to publicly apologize for the mention of God in our schools. And we wonder why the world is the way it is……………….”
-Chriss

“I was there as well & in no way should anyone be offended by what he said. Shame on R3 for not backing him up.”
-Barbara

“Shame on the administration and whoever else made this decision”
-Doug

“Wow….shame on you R3. Everyone can have a religious opinion except a Christian is that it??!”
-Carol

“The school board must be against God then”
-Mike

“Shame on the district for not standing behind him.
He didn’t force anyone else to pray or thank GOD.
So sick and tired of people getting up tight when GOD is mentioned.”
-Jessica

“I knew a bunch of losers ran the Lebanon school district–I feel sorry for these people that are complaining when they have to stand before GOD when they leave this earth.”

-Jason

“Whoever on the R3 board that decided for this apology?? I would like OFF THE school board. I support the schools by paying taxes every year, I have two kids in school myself… And this speech was making a community proud of its schools. I am tired of Christians being discriminated upon, having no voice and expected to adhere to everyone else’s nasty and immoral ways so we don’t discriminate on them.

So whoever made this decision…. You’re not needed in this community on the school board… You’re hypocritical and unnecessary for our children’s needs”

-Ron

“Unreal… The R3 district should be ashamed of themselves for even considering an apology… They need to apologize to the community for the lack of services offered to our children, and the way they treat their staff…. NOT apologize for a staff memeber that was in his right to speak on behalf of himself, the graduating students and families. Someone needs to start a petition for a complete NEW SCHOOL BOARD in this town. I will be the first to sign. We can’t complain unless we are willing to make a stand!!!”

-Jennifer

I should add that there are one or two voices of sanity on that page, but they’re quickly overwhelmed by the goddies.

Finally, Principal Lowery has his own publicly-accessible Facebook page, and here’s the banner:

Lowery FB page header

And a picture shared by the principal:

Lowery ReaganWith comments:

Screen shot 2014-06-07 at 12.46.59 PM

I thought the following comments came from Lowery’s own Facebook page (I don’t have a record of where I got the screenshot), but they could be from one of the other two pages. (I believe Lowery has either removed comments from his page since yesterday or made them private, but I may be wrong). At any rate, they document both the community religiosity as well as the pattern of religiosity in the school. None of these came from “friends” of Lowery who have access to private comments, as I don’t post such things.

Notice the first comment:

Lowry

It appears that these folks are so blinded by their affection for Mr. Lowery, or by their faith, that they’re shoveling coal into the boiler of The One-Way Train to Lawsuitville. But the damage is already done. There have been many comments and emails noting that Lowery repeatedly prayed not just at graduations, but at school assemblies. Any decent lawyer could document a pattern of illegal and unconstitutional behavior.

Unfortunately, Champion Jesus can’t save Lebanon from the law.

171 thoughts on “The citizens of Lebanon, Missouri, rally around their principal and their god

  1. I want to personally thank you, Dr. Coyne, for covering this story thoroughly and sticking with it. I’m from Missouri (St. Louis) and have friends in Lebanon. There is a general perception that people in the Midwest are all conservative Evangelicals and while you’ve shown that side of it, I also appreciate the letters from the students who were appalled at the principal’s religious remarks.

    On a completely separate note, I continually refer people to your book and YouTube lectures entitled, “Why Evolution is True” and while it often falls on deaf ears, occasionally the evidence gets through to some brain cells and I see a spark of recognition. Keep on keeping on…

  2. I don’t think Lowery is a fool. In fact, if he refuses to back down and plays his cards right, and manages to get interviewed on Fox News(if he hasn’t already), he could become a new hero of the Christian right.

    After this: Book deals, and maybe he even gets involved in politics. This could become very profitable for him, though not for the school.

    So while his supporters may be clueless, Lowery may know exactly what he is doing.

    1. I never said Lowery was a fool.I don’t think he is. But I don’t think his actions are calculated, either; rather, I think he really believes he has the Good News and wanted to share it.

      But even if Fox News lauds him, what kind of “hero” will he be if his activities bankrupt his school district in an unsuccessful lawsuit. And, frankly, I don’t care if he’s a hero to Christians; my own interest here is to keep the First Amendment as intact as possible. After all, Sarah Palin, though she lost the bid for public office, is still a hero. Ask me if I care.

      As for a book deal, somehow I doubt it. . .

      1. Calculated or not, if his activities bankrupt the school, many if not most of his supporters may blame the feds, and the “evil” secularists, not Lowery. In the minds of his followers, this is a David versus Goliath kind of struggle.

        In a way, besides describing how I think this might play out, I’ve been wondering how the fanaticism of his followers might influence the legal proceedings. As you pointed out, so far, they are not helping. Is it possible some are so fanatical they may be willing to risk bankrupting their school? I don’t know. I am not a lawyer or an expert in such matters, nor can I read the minds of Lowery’s supporters.

        Anyway, thank you Dr Coyne for helping to expose this egregious Constitutional violation, I appreciate all you do.

        1. In the aftermath of all of this, will the Lebanon folk lament to their critics (in their eyes their oppressors), “You should have kept me from hitting myself in the fist with my nose”?

        2. Exactly, the citizens will blame the federal government and the liberal courts. Cities and states often take on expensive fights they know they will lose as a matter of principle and/or to keep voters happy. Lowery could very well end up a folk hero, and if there is a long court battle could get his book deal. I grew up in a town like this. The people (unless their lawyers really insist) probably won’t do a rational cost/benefit analysis. That’s not how you proceed when fighting God’s fight.

    2. While some of that might materialize, it’s very unlikely it’s his plan. Did any of the Dover School board get book deals or appear to be anything other than stupid?

  3. None of this surprises me, at all. In their eyes, the United States was founded by Christianity and anything that takes away what they see as their right to lead public prayers is an affront to the “true nature” of the United States.

    To see the worst of this tradition, google “John McNaughton Jesus Constitution” and realize that this is a “serious work” and not “poe”! (satire)

  4. The solution seems obvious to me: With all these supporters, why don’t the Lebanon faithful open a religious school? This is done everywhere else on earth. It would be much more cost-effective than defending the many lawsuits that are coming their way.

      1. Because they are going to get sued into penury and would’ve been better off just starting a religious school. Reference Dover and the millions they spent defending the lawsuit.

  5. It is macabre!

    Abrahamists truly don’t understand their own arrogance, claiming for themselves what others can not have. What web site could display mechanisms for torture and killing, without being seen as macabre and threatening? Yet abrahamists think they are exempted from that.

    And do they want to show this for children? Oy vey!

    So abrahamists are blindly arrogant. And especially Lebanon’s abrahamists do not see when they offend others. But they see when others offend them, and then they feel scared, without trying to understand the issues:

    “I understand their reasoning I guess, but in no way will i EVER apologize for my faith! What a bunch of petty ridiculousness this is!””

    It is the irony of life when trying to impart freedom of religion is taken as trying to withdraw freedom of religion.

    PS. Yes, that first one… “Why can’t I do what I want to forbid others to do?” What a poster child for cognitive dissonance!

  6. It is remarkable that in our historic past, the religious understood that our secular Constitution protected their religious freedom whereas the religious today see that very protection as such a threat, they dissimulate the secular origin of our nation and purport it as has always been a theocracy.

    Of the comments I read and I didn’t read more than half, I didn’t find any addressing their principal’s violation of the Constitution; none tackled the legal issue.

    1. “find any addressing their principal’s violation of the Constitution; none tackled the legal issue.”

      No, that would be rational behavior. Most of them weren’t even able to properly construe his actions.

    2. I’m not sure this is entirely true when it comes to the Protestant Christian majority we have in this country. They dominated the scene for quite some time; when prayer in schools was ruled unconstitutional, it was Jewish people who brought the suit and then when they removed Bible readings, it was a Unitarian family.

      For years, there was rampant discrimination against Catholics and Jews and this mentality continues today in many fundamentalist circles. People such as John F. Kennedy, our only Catholic President, understood the importance of a secular Government, and the Jewish people in America, a group who unlike the Christian majority, actually have been persecuted, understand this as well.

      I don’t think this persecution complex has as much to do with a new wave of people ignorant of their protections, it has to do with a group who is fighting the fact that the wall of separation is being enforced and their religious views no longer have free reign.

      1. One thing I notice with fundamentalists and evangelicals – they sure love to hate on the Catholics & some of them are former Catholics. I think when it comes to Christians, Catholics are the go to group to hate.

        1. Indeed, having spent my childhood in a strict Catholic home, about half of which was spent in Georgia, I was all too familiar with the hatred directed at Catholics. I’m not really sure whether they hate Jews more, but there are certainly more Catholics in the region for the vitriol to be directed towards. We’re not that far removed in history from the KKK killing anyone not sufficiently Waspy. I’ve even seen rhetoric in my lifetime indicating Catholics are worse than atheists.

          Of course, none of this is to say Catholics haven’t had more than their fair share of religious domination. But, concerning present times in America, there’s different levels of crazy when it comes to religion. The fundies have everyone beat.

  7. The ugly comment about being allowed to be openly gay has more likes on it then any other comment. The lack of awareness on almost all of the commenters there is an interesting spectacle. They really have no clue what is going on. In the last 30 minutes there are a few people going to that site to comment who actually understand why a proselytising principal is offensive and unconstitutional. I hope more will come from this website and visit them.

    1. It seems the two rational comments there that oppose Lowery’s actions are no longer there. There may be some censorship of opposing views going on, this may need testing.

      1. To kill time I searched Google Earth for “Church” in Lebanon, MO. I’ve heard that “there is a church on every corner in the Bible Belt”, but thought that was a bit exaggerated.

        But no, it wasn’t. This little one-horse town has almost 50 churches within walking distance from the city center. There are hundreds of them if you search outside the town and county. Google marks them as little red dots, like boils. Zooming out even further, the red boils are in every nook and cranny of the state of Missouri. There are thousands of them.

        The town of Lebanon seems to be a town with a church in every crack in the pavement, and you will step on it. A town where you moist your lips you accidentaly lick a christian. As Jerry asked, Why do you have to preach in High School when you have so many churches in your town?

        1. You have to ask yourself why there are so many churches for a small population. Why are there not just a few, with larger memberships?

          Even if they were able to exterminate all of us, it wouldn’t be five minutes before they were fighting among themselves about whose particular flavor was the “real” Christianity, which deserves all the privilege. They don’t have any idea at all that this is what the separation of church and state was designed to prevent. L

        2. This is absolutely true. Having grown up there, I can confirm that it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a church of some kind. I would also like to say that there were almost the same number of car repair shops (this was many years ago, but it’s probably still true), many of which were rumored to be chop shops, where stolen cars were disassembled and sold for parts. Of course that can’t be true because such a heavily-Christianed town would never do anything illegal or against the Constitution.

        3. I am in a town of 15k people with 40+ churches. I used to think it was disgusting, but when you think about what it implies…theological disjoint, it has a silver lining.

        4. Lebanon native here.
          A lot of churches in Lebanon get started by members of a church getting angry and starting their own churches. Church splits account for a lot of the new churches started in Lebanon.

  8. wrt to the Reagan worship, I can’t believe some one is referring to the ’80s as the good old days. Not only were the ’80s objectively terrible in many respects, but religious conservatives spent most of that decade pining for the “good old days” of the 1950s or 1920s.

    As the saying goes, “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.”

      1. Yeah, it’s arguably the golden age fallacy squared.

        “Remember how great it was in the ’80s when we sat around and complained about how much better things were in the ’50s?”

    1. It made me smile that Ron Reagan’s son is an atheist at least when I read that post about President Ron.

  9. This one is going to wind up in legal textbooks as an example of all the ways a client can shoot himself in the foot.

    I’m just glad that they’re so considerately doing all the heavy lifting for the FFRF and turning it into such a cakewalk.

    b&

    1. Yeah, comments in The Blaze remarked about how he did this all the time too. Duh on them.

      1. I like to ask the faithful a theological question. If god has infinite wisdom, why is he so stingy with it? Especially why does he seem to give the least to his own believers?

  10. I found it interesting that one of the Facebook commenters characterized the kids who feel uncomfortable with all the proselytizing as “the enemy”.

    I so wish that the Supreme Court would read all this, after their Greece, NY decision.

    They are all so clueless. L

    1. The principal has done enough othering himself, stating that he was acting in accordance with the values and ideals of those living in the lebanon community, or something along those lines, basically denying that nonbelievers or those of different faiths should even be seen as a part of the community

    2. “I so wish that the Supreme Court would read all this, after their Greece, NY decision.”

      Excellent point.

      I wish they could somehow have read all this before that decision!

  11. Finally, a simple and exciting source of identity and purpose for those in need of it in the town of lebanon. Facing an outside enemy, standing up together for all that is good and holy, feeling part of something greater than me, against *them*? That’s so much more satisfying and clear cut than our glamourless and often unremarkable everyday lives. I can relate to those getting riled up behind their principal crusader.

    1. They’ve so successfully suppressed the voices of the minorities there that they need an outside enemy now.

      1. They appear positively oblivious that people of differing religious persuasion could be among them and part of their community…

    2. The persecution complex runs deeply through this town. People, you aren’t the wronged here. You can walk around openly gay (whatever that looks like to this girl) and openly Christian. You can even walk around openly atheist but it seems from the hatred in this town being atheist or gay openly would get you lynched. Way to spread the love, Christians. Guess you haven’t all moved past the bloodiness of the bible after all.

  12. If only these people knew their own theology. God got out of the nation blessing/cursing business when Jesus “died for our sins”. After that, it’s personal salvation, people. PERSONAL, as in your salvation depends solely on your beliefs and choices, not any one else’s, and certainly not on the decisions of governments and political leaders.

  13. It would be very handy to have at hand a cogent and as-brief-as-possible explanation of exactly why Principal Lowery was in violation of the law. This – for me – falls into that category of “I’m reasonably certain X is true, but can’t exactly explain why.”

    Perhaps a blog-reader with legal expertise in this area could supply something. I believe a significant part of the problem for the citizens of Lebanon (and many millions of others) is that they do not understand why the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment’s phrase “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF…” (emphasis added) doesn’t exactly mean that they may legally profess and promote their favorite religion whenever, however and wherever they want.

    It seems evident – if only by the uproar in Lebanon – that reiterating “you’re violating the Constitution” isn’t doing the trick. They don’t understand why they’re in violation, and frankly, most Americans are in the same boat. I think we must also admit that there are a few places where the writings of the founding fathers could have been a bit more clear.

    1. The Wikipedia article has links to all the landmark cases. In short, the Supreme court has ruled against prayer by “state actors” (which emphatically includes administrators and teachers, as well as even students in many settings) at school functions — with one of those functions even explicitly being graduation ceremonies in one of the cases.

      Lowery might try to claim that what he was doing wasn’t actually praying, but instead describing an idealized memory of a prayer, but that won’t fly, either. Bible study in public schools is also unconstitutional. (Religious studies are permitted, so long as they are objective and impartial exercises in anthropology.)

      Were this to come to trial, one of the first things to come up would be application of the Lemon test:

      1. The statute (or action) must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religious affairs. (also known as the Entanglement Prong) 2. The statute (or action) must not advance or inhibit religious practice (also known as the Effect Prong) 3. The statute (or action) must have a secular legislative purpose (also known as the Purpose Prong)

      If any single prong fails, the action is unconstitutional. Lowery’s action very spectacularly fails all three prongs, for reasons that should be obvious with even superficial reflection.

      Cheers,

      b&

      1. And the whole problem could so easily have been avoided by having a secular graduation and then coincidentally some churches rent out the facilities immediately afterwards for a ‘Graduation Service’. Nobody would believe the ‘distinction without a real difference’, but it would technically pass the Lemon Test. (They would need to establish a pattern of renting out facilities to local groups first, but that should be possible.)

        1. …and immediately following the religious service, the atheist and humanists would take over the space for there own celebration. Not a bad way to go…

        2. Actually…probably not. Remember, Lee v Weisman established explicitly that schools may not invite clergy to give prayers at graduation ceremonies. The official graduation would have to be long over and done with, giving people plenty of time to say their goodbyes and make their exits, before the unofficial functions could begin; they couldn’t show any preference to any religious institution, or even to having a religious institution over a non-religious one; and renting out school facilities to religious institutions in general is going to draw an incredible amount of scrutiny, especially if there’s any indication that the religious institution is in any way gaining access to students that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

          If a church wanted to rent out the school cafeteria on Thursday nights for bingo while their own facilities were undergoing renovation, I don’t think that would raise any eyebrows. And they could even giggle and snort about how they’re “praying in school” when they open the festivities with a prayer, and it’d all be just fine. But if the same church wanted to rent the school for Sunday youth ministry, that would almost certainly be over the line.

          Probably the most that the school could get away with would be to include a listing in the printed program of all the open-to-the-public celebrations in the area. And it’d be perfectly fine to have prayer meetings listed there, so long as they didn’t also refuse to list the metalhead students’s party at the local pizza joint.

          Cheers,

          b&

          1. There are some Supreme Court decisions, the most recent Good News Club v. Milford Central, 533 U.S. 98 (2001), holding that IF a school district makes its facilities available after school hours to community groups, it creates what’s called in free speech doctrine a “limited public forum.” Once any governmental entity does that, it is obligated to grant access without taking into account the viewpoint (if any) of the entity wanting access — even if the entity is a church. There is at least one federal court of appeals decision that upheld a ban on using school facilities for worship services, but many cases have allowed uses short of a full-blown worship service. I haven’t looked at the specific question of post-graduation religious celebrations.

        3. Some schools do something like that by holding a Baccalaureate ceremony in a church before the actual graduation ceremony. Because of the social nature of high school, those who do not attend the Baccalaureate can feel terribly left out.

    2. They don’t understand because they understand the Constitution the way they understand Bible, which is “this book says what I think it says”, and any part of the book that contradicts their understanding of it is simply ignored.

      1. .. when they’ve actually bothered to read either document at all. It’s really easy to make claims about what the Bible or Constitution says when someone has no idea what they actually say. Worse, there’s such a cloud of apologetics nonsense floating around the Bible (and quickly coming to float around American documents as well thanks to pseudo-historians) that even if someone does read it, it’s really hard to see what it’s really saying.

  14. Sam Harris had a great quote that I think of every time religion in the US is discussed:
    USA is in a state of intellectual emergency.

    Ms Dimwittle, the woman who doesn’t like that gays are allowed to walk around openly, while Christians are forbidden to do so, is a perfect example of this emergency. Her brain is broken. 59 other broken brains salute this failure of comprehension. This story is fascinating to follow and I hope it explodes even more and ends up in court.

    My best wishes to those teenagers in Lebanon who don’t put up with this and aren’t afraid to say so. There once was a man who used to fight this insanity. We only knew him as The Hitch. Long before Principal Lowery took it upon himself to tell you to get in line, The Hitch had already spoken for you, for the young of Lebanon and similar small towns:

    I’d urge you to look at those of you who tell you – those people who tell you at your age that you’re dead till you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. That you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift. Think of it as a poisoned chalice. Push it aside however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.

  15. Is it any wonder that theists who have trouble distinguishing reality from the imagination would be unable to even properly identify the nature of the problem here.

  16. In looking at a Google map of Lebanon, Missouri, I noticed Lebanon High School is just off of North JEFFERSON Avenue. The Junior High School is right there on North ADAMS Avenue. Oh, the irony.

  17. Their ignorance, smugness, and patting-each-other-on-the-back is cemented with a mental rigidity imprisoned inside a proto-emotional cocoon. None of these people will be breaking out of their sticky straight jackets any time soon.

    Clear delineation of their poisonous, dangerous, and pathetic perspective accomplished in this post is what needs to be done. And done. And done. And followed up legally.

  18. I just posted the full text of Matthew 6:5 on that silly “rah rah Lowry rah rah Jesus!” Facebook page. I’ll check back in a few hours to see if it stayed undeleted.

  19. To kill time I searched Google Earth for “Church” in Lebanon, MO. I’ve heard that “there is a church on every corner in the Bible Belt”, but thought that was a bit exaggerated.

    But no, it wasn’t. This little one-horse town has almost 50 churches within walking distance from the city center. There are hundreds of them if you search outside the town and county. Google marks them as little red dots, like boils. Zooming out even further, the red boils are in every nook and cranny of the state of Missouri. There are thousands of them.

    The town of Lebanon seems to be a town with a church in every crack in the pavement, and you will step on it. A town where you moist your lips you accidentaly lick a christian. As Jerry asked, Why do you have to preach in High School when you have so many churches in your town?

    1. I did the same search, and noted that there doesn’t seem to be a Christian high school. Could the reason be that the “public” high school serves that function?

      1. I don’t understand what you mean they are not christian churches. Please explain what you mean.

  20. We certainly have proof that god doesn’t need graduation prayers to be beloved in that community. Makes you wonder how weak they think he is.

  21. Something needs to be done , An example must be made here.. The brain washing is strong in this school.. If only these school teachers knew Jesus talked about noahs ark and the global flood numerous times as if its fact yet they ignore this.. What does science have to say about a global flood? Myth.. Christianity is completely false. We shall not stand down and be quiet about this proselytizing .. Go after them FFRF! make news, make headlines

  22. The principal characterizes his prayer as “politically incorrect”. Whether or not it is politically correct is irrelevant. The point is it is illegal.

    It is also clear that principal Lowery doesn’t actually care about the feelings of ALL his students as he professes; he rides rough-shod over the emotions of those who don’t share his beliefs. This is another example of Christian privilege, which considers the beliefs or non-belief of others to be either less important or less sincere than their own.

    It’s time for many of these citizens to get off social media and spend some time in personal reflection. Perhaps in church on Sunday their pastors, who are presumably fairly well educated, will preach a bit of that Christian tolerance we hear so much about.

    1. No, they should go to Wikipedia and read up on the Constitution, school prayer, the Lemon Test, and other relevant areas. They have spent too much time in church already.

  23. I’m a Lebanon resident.

    My family and the teenagers I’ve spoken to living in Lebanon would like to request a fund known as the “Get the F*ck Out” fund.

    Please, thank you.

    1. As a former resident of Lebanon who left after high school and never came back except for short visits to family, you have my sympathies, Fishy. I can’t imagine what it would be like living there as an adult, especially a non-Christian one like me. I would happily contribute to a fund to either get Lowery out or help non-believers keep/regain/have! their rights.

  24. Also please note that the creator of the “Standing Strong with Kevin Lowery” page has admitted to deleting comments that don’t support him or are trying to tear them down with dirty atheist viewpoints.

    1. Quote from the page.

      “As for trying to “get me to listen” apparently you don’t know me; I’m stubborn to the core and I won’t listen, I will not argue back with you, so I will respectfully delete and block anyone that wants to join this page other than to support Mr. Lowery.””

        1. “Stubborn to the core” is now an officially endorsed Christian value apparently.

          The dictionary says stubborn means “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”

          There’s almost more irony in that person’s comment than a sane person can take.

          1. Stubborn to the core? I smell some deadly sins in there somewhere…

            Pride – check, Sloth(intellectually) – check, Wrath – check.

          2. Fits perfectly with the answer many Christians gave to the question: if science showed something that disproved your beliefs would you agree with the science or continue following your beliefs – the answer of course was continue following your beliefs.

  25. If the principal had at least had the decency to acknowledge that other attendees might be using !*their*! moment of silence !*differently*!, I would at least be
    !*ethically*! more comfortable.

    Public spaces are a religion-free zone, period.

  26. find this comment, posted on the Facebook page in support of Lowry especially distressing:
    Shannon Meredith There is no shame in standing firm upon what we believe. In the New Testament, if people refused to believe, they WERE shunned. It’s about time we stopped being ashamed for being bold in our faith! Love the verse and keep the peace, but never be afraid to ruffle feathers. NO one in the Bible was and neither was Jesus, so we shouldn’t be either.

    Is this woman advocating that students in a public school be shunned for their beliefs? This is truly despicable and worrying. This kerfuffle is making my think about being more vocal in my small town.

      1. I’m reminded of the two Jehovah’s Witnesses gentlemen with whom I conversed on my front porch, lamenting about how roughly they generally were treated in their proselytizing. I treated them very respectfully and congenially. Afterwards, I wondered if it took the wind out of their sails, and if they resented my not knocking the chip of martyrdom off their shoulders.

        1. I’m polite to them too. They are just people after all and I can’t bring myself to be mean to them. I am assertive however and politely tell them I’m not interested and no I don’t want their literature. I can’t even bring myself to point out their incorrect Northern European Jesus even though I really want to!

          1. I’m pretty terse with them, actually. I consider it rude of them to interrupt my day in an effort to foist their foolish beliefs upon me.

    1. “In the New Testament, if people refused to believe, they WERE shunned.”

      You have this all wrong: it was a big improvement over smiting!

      Horay, fascism!

      1. Ha ha! Yes fascism was an improvement over biblical smiting but eventually the smiting comes back. 🙂

  27. After some thought I would like to suggest a title change for this post to “Some Citizens of Lebanon…” We need to remember that they represent the majority but not all of the residents are Christian or fundamentalist David Barton-victim type Christians.

      1. No, certainly not. I’m in contact with a fair few students and parents who do NOT support principal Lowery, as well as some residents who have thanked me in private. Of course I mean some citizens, and that’s pretty clear.

  28. It seems to me they’re robbing the state.

    They’ve taken a non-denominational public school and turned it into a private christian school to proselytise for their own faith at the public’s expense.

    To turn fishy’s post at #27 back on them:
    Get The F*ck Out!

  29. The comment by the supporters reflect their faith over reason mentality.And their belief that church should come before State. They seem to lack the insight to place the comments into the context that it is not a faith-based school. The principal’s behaviors would be perfect for a faith based school, and not out of place at all. But in a public school the comments are out of line and inappropriate, let alone unconstitutional.

  30. The pictorial quote at the top is a doozy. He says “politically correct” instead of the correct term: “legal”.

    And I loved the quote about getting everyone out to church on Sunday to show what kind of town Lebanon it is. lol. We already know exactly what kind of town it is.

  31. To any Christians trolling this thread, I’m holding back the extremely disparaging comments about Christianity that I really want to make. You’re welcome.

  32. I am a woman who currently lives in the mid west. I will first say this… I have not lived here my whole life. As a matter if fact, I began my life in Arizona and have since birth, moved north, south, east and west! I have had influence from a number of amazing people in my life… All from various religions, faiths and perspectives! I respect what Mr. Lowery did! I am a person of faith! (As we all have our own “faith”) Mr. Lowery did not break into hymn, deliver a sermon, or offer a baptism! He simply offered a moment of silence. This is not a corrupt situation that needs to be addressed and remedied. Each individual in attendance has the ability to use the moment In silence in their own respective way! I am in full support of leaders who offer up positivity instead of denying whom and what they believe. I have not forgotten “One Nation Under God, indivisible…” For in my own beliefs, in having forgotten the foundation on which this country was built, we are all currently very much divided! A very disheartening fact. So even though I love and offer kindness, caring, empathy and compassion for my fellow man, dare I do it because the bible tells me so!!! “Out of fear of a lawsuit!”

    1. Tsk,y ou should really inform yourself more about the situation and history before making such ignorant statements.

      First of all, he did not simply offer a moment of silence.

      Also, “under God” was only added to the pledge during the cold war to make a rhetorical stand against the “atheistic” communist soviet union.

      1. Ignorance is an interesting perspective you hold for me, as I feel the same about you. Have a wonderful day and I hope that in your endeavors you may find depth and kindness for your fellow man and woman.

        1. Yes, ignorance is an interesting perspective to hold for someone. Also,
          I’ll make sure to find some depth. English is hard.

    2. Did you watch the video? After the moment of silence, he went on and on about God and told falsehoods about the role of god in the U.S. government. The fact that he couched it in terms of “this is how I used my moment of silence” doesn’t obviate the fact that he prosletzyed to a captive audience in his role as a public servant.

      The Declaration of Independence mentioning a “creator” does not carry the weight of law – the Constitution does, and it doesn’t mention god.

      “In God we Trust” has only been on our money since the 1950s during anti-communist hysteria. It has survived to this date because of a supposed non-sectarian purpose, but incidents such as this prove that the effect is anything but.

    3. No, he offered a moment of silence then described what he prayed for.

      Er, that isn’t the same.

      And it seems that there is a pattern of this (evangelising at school functions) that has been posted by his supporters on the various pages.

      Yeah, counts as sectarian methinks.

      He can pray publicly all he likes, just not as a government representative, and definitely not to a captive audience.

      1. Lol And not quite enough hatred on ur part:) have a great day (no punctuation used out of fear of backlash and criticism)

    4. Others have already pointed out the Mr Lowery clearly talked about a Christian god, did more than offer a moment of silence and incorrectly attributed “In God We Trust” as part of the US founding.

      I’d like to ask how you would feel if a Sikh gave his prayer and spoke about Sikh traditions and complained that as a Sikh he couldn’t proselytize. Or a Muslim, or a . Because you know that would only be fair for others to have their say. Or how would you feel if an atheist spoke about how there is no god?

      What is most fair is if we don’t mention religion to captive school audiences. Not everyone has your religious faith. Indeed, based on the handful of atheists who have come forward, I bet many people in your town don’t have religious faith and simply hide it for fear of being bullied. You may not understand how horrible it is to hide who you truly are, but I can tell you it is a horrible psychological burden. Why would a Christian want to do that to someone? Why would they not want non Christians and Christians a like to feel welcome and comfortable?

    5. ” . . . the foundation on which this country was built . . . .”

      Do you have any problem with slavery, and with women being treated as chattel?

      How old is the Earth, and what is the basis of your answer?

  33. You silly atheists. Don’t any of you have anything better to do? Your anger blinds you. Nobody is ramming God down your throats. In fact, nobody who was present at the graduation has made any formal complaint. The only people complaining are those who set in front of their computers or those with their phones stuck in their face who have nothing better to do and want to cry about how somebody could be so stupid to believe in something that they themselves do not. You should pull up your big boy and big girl panties and take a lesson from the rest of us and exercise a little tolerance for people you disagree with. Stop being bullies because it only makes you appear unintelligent. We share this rock called earth so try being a little kinder to those who you think are so beneath you. You are free to believe howyouchoose so let us do the same. We aren’t coming after YOU so stop whining. We aren’t offended because you don’t believe in God or Jesus Christ, in fact I myself hope to someday have the kind of faith that you all do. The incredible idea that we all evolved from a pile of slime and that there are no talking monkeys (this could be arguable) no half species, no instance of any living thing stuck between one species and another. With no proof and only a theory….man, that’s awesome faith. You don’t have to believe in a creator, nobody is forcing you but you can choose to be kind to one another, you can be kind to your neighbor that’s different than you. I expect a lot of you to attack me and my statement and I’m okay with that, I’d expect as much from a bully.

    1. I could not bully somebody with such a lack of understanding as to words in your own language.

      You may care to start by looking in any decent dictionary what the word “theory” means when applied scientificly.

      1. the·o·ry\ˈthē-ə-rē, ˈthir-ē\
        noun
        1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
        2 : abstract thought : speculation
        3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
        4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action
        b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances — often used in the phrase in theory
        5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
        6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation
        b : an unproved assumption : conjecture

      2. “1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.”

        [ http://www.thefreedictionary.com/theory ]

        TAWM, you are welcome.

    2. I counted no fewer that 17 false statements and/or mischaracterizations in your little rant. If you’d like to know what they are, I’m sure more than enough people on this site would be happy to explain them to you without bullying.

      As for the current case and the religious freedom that our Constitution establishes, I suggest you start by reading about the 1890 Edgerton Bible case and follow that up with the 1962 Engle v. Vitale case. These were brought not by atheists, but by other religious groups who were being compelled to go along with religious exercises they did not believe in. This only reaffirmed the reason Europeans settled here originally to escape religious persecution.

      You, Mr. Lowery, or anyone else can take to the public square and voice any opinion you wish as private citizens and everyone here would surely be happy to defend your right to do that. What you cannot do is proselytize as a Government reprsentative.

    3. “We share this rock called earth so try being a little kinder to those who you think are so beneath you. ”

      Aaand right back at you. You are a member of the bullying majority here.

      I’ll ignore your garbled nonsense on biology.

    4. People who were at the ceremony most definitely did come forward and complain and some did so anonymously in fear of being bullied. I think you should look up what the word “irony” means and then look up what “bully” means and finally “tolerance”. No one is trying to prevent you from praying. You aren’t persecuted – look at all the churches in your neighbourhood. Do you not want those that hold beliefs different from yours to feel welcome at secular ceremonies like graduations? Do Christians not want to welcome everyone?

      Lastly, your understanding of evolution is terrible. You really should read Jerry’s book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Why-Evolution-True-Jerry-Coyne-ebook/dp/B001QEQRJW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402243927&sr=1-1&keywords=why+evolution+is+true&quot;Why Evolution is True

    5. “The incredible idea that we all evolved from a pile of slime”.

      Ironically that is what abrahamist creationists claims, humans out of slimeish mud. Maybe you should study your own texts: “… streams[c] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man[d] from the dust of the ground …” [ http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1-3 ]

      One of my interests is astrobiology, and I can tell you that no theories (yes, “especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted”) describes “slime” or “mud”. (Or you can look it up in Wikipedia.)

      The current best looking pathway is arguably submarine alkaline hydrothermal emergence, which makes life a geophysical phenomena at the root. Components are spontaneously formed membranous cells in chemical gardens of certain hydrothermal vents, with pH and redox potentials like modern cells driving chemical evolution. It is the theory that biological methods (phylogenies) pick as best.

      Just slime, mud, dust or goo, the age old creationist idea, doesn’t make sense. No mechanism and no similarities with what was present (e.g no modern mud or slime) on the early Earth.

      1. I posted too early. I meant to say:

        “No mechanism and no similarities with what was present (e.g no modern mud or slime) on the early Earth or in early cells.

        FWIW the currently (arguably) best theory is a happy marriage between geophysics, chemical evolution and biology, the latter two emerging out of the former.

        It has survived some basic tests already, so is as “well tested” as we can expect. And lately it seems to marry well with deep results on emergent metabolism pathways in hot submarine water which was present around the structures.

        To drive the point further, not only can’t creationist ideas present any mechanisms or geo- and biology like systems, they can’t be tested (no mechanism) and go nowhere (no tests). Astrobiology do all of that, that which we require, credibly so I must add.

    6. For starters:

      – explain the rational purpose of the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

      – how old is the Earth, and what is the basis of your answer/

    7. I’m not sure what you were hoping to get out of this ramble, but it certainly doesn’t seem like you were looking for an actual discussion of real though. Tell me if I’m wrong.

      The reason that this has come up AT ALL is because somebody in Lebanon has, in fact, complained. To the right people.

      Nobody is being bullied. Who is stalking you and harassing you?

      Read the student letters on Jerry’s blog. Because I’m guessing that you haven’t.

  34. Finally, this is an abysmal failure of American education. Manifestations of this are hardly limited to Lebanon MO or the ‘bible belt.’ When students came to my classes at a liberal arts college, I could almost instinctively tell which ones would listen and which not. Hardened, unassailable attitudes and values were soon evident from class discussion, and it was clear that those students inoculated against reason + evidence had been made so almost from the cradle.

    Add to this the scandalously weak ‘educational studies’ curricula and instruction at third-rate teacher-training institutions, which mostly attract those who want to get a certificate and go back home to teach others as they were taught, and the reality becomes C-students preparing other C-students for a life that sounds like Lebanon.

    Our working cliché in the liberal arts was, ‘mold young minds into good adults.’ But as the Jesuits knew, and made their precept, ‘give me the child until he’s seven. . . etc.’ the mind could be solidly set so as not
    to grow further–and well before the age of reason (and of college).

    So perhaps our motto should have been, ‘Break some crockery!’

    1. If only we remunerated our educators the way we do our professional celebrities & sports superstars…

    2. “Finally, this is an abysmal failure of American education . . . Add to this the scandalously weak ‘educational studies’ curricula and instruction at third-rate teacher-training institutions, which mostly attract those who want to get a certificate and go back home to teach others as they were taught . . . . ”

      Since you bring up the failure of Amuricun education:

      Each teacher stands/falls on his/her own academic/pedagogical merits, without a doubt. What is the accountability of the American student? None, because s/he is a legally unaccountable minor until age 18?

      I have substitute taught grades K-12 the last nine years. To say the very least, I have a knack for it. When it’s good, it’s good. However, I haven’t gotten fully certified as a teacher (though I’m eminently “certifiable” 😉 ) because I have had my near-toxic exposure to and fill of oppositionally defiant, troubled, and troubling students. I am sick of baby-sitting, cajoling, haranguing students to do what they bloody very well already know what they should do. 50% of teachers have left the field by the five-year point.

      What do you see as the “carrots” to persuade one to enter the teaching profession? Money? Getting verbally disrespected/abused by students? Who do you think ought to become teachers? Why didn’t those education “experts” – hedge fund billionaires, venture capitalists, corporate tyrants, economists, politicos – not become teachers? They can’t, Romneyesque, “fire” students like they can employees.

      Ought you not just as – if not more – easily lay the majority of the blame on Amuricun anti-intellectualism? (Re: Hofstadter’s “Anti-intellectualism in American Life” and Jacoby’s “The Age of American Unreason.”) Per Lawrence Krauss, approximately 50% of American adults miss the following National Science Foundation of American science literacy survey question:

      “T or F: the Earth goes around the sun and takes a year to do it.”

      (sorry 😉 )

  35. I think we [atheists/secularists] have become too complacent in relying on the separation of church and state to be a foregone conclusion by the judicial system. It is a flaw in our thinking. You have only to look at abortion rights in the US. Seemed like settled law not that long ago? How is that working for us now? Public support [by that I mean christianity] waxes and wanes depending on the feeling of imminent challenge religion has, not on secular or pluralistic ideals. There has been a steady erosion of the idea in the SCOTUS, and if this court has demonstrated anything lately it is a sharp turn to the right ideologically. Scalia weakened “Establishment” in Employment Div. v. Smith. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was supposed to restore the CSI test, but interpretations of the scope and effect of the RFRA vary markedly, and one federal judge has already declared RFRA unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of RFRA. How will Hobby Lobby affect “Establishment”?
    I’m not optimistic at this point and I’d like very much to be wrong.

    1. I think the issue is that religion and the religious are unrelenting. Generation after generation they will fight to push their beliefs into the mainstream and they do this with whole hearted zealous conviction.

      The non religious are not by nature zealots, so it can be easy to let things slip by. In Canada recently a leader of a party mentioned that his party recognizes a woman’s right to choose. This caused a kerfuffle but what really concerned me was high ranking church officials implored him to meet with them (the leader of the party is Catholic) and they public criticized his Catholic values. Happily this political leader rebuked them and told them he may be Catholic but he stands for Canada’s values. Now, if this leader were someone else, the Catholic Church could shove their way right into politics.

      1. “religion and the religious are unrelenting” … “non religious are not by nature zealots”.

        Agreed. To our detriment, sometimes. There is this puzzling visceral aversion to atheism in the US that results in even those irreligious politicians shamelessly pandering to the faithful. If only we had leaders with backbone here.

  36. I have not read all the comments here, so I do not know if this has been mentioned. What business is it of yours what we do in Lebanon, MO? As you have stated, it’s happened before in years past. No one but those of us who attended graduation would know what was said. Instead, someone with a college degree decided to make it his business and stir the pot. I am not a highly religious person, I believe in God… but I also support others beliefs in a “Higher Power”. Some people here have been rude, hateful, and quite childish…why? Why would anyone else give a damn about what we do here? You don’t live here, you sit at home in front of a screen and spout off things that do not concern you…why? How is it your business? We are a mostly Christian based community. The number of churches located inside the city limits of a town with 12,000+ population would amaze you. None of what Mr. Lowery said has affected you in any way…not one word. It makes me wonder if you possibly found a chance to promote you book and took it. Have your book sales increased? My mother always told me…”those who stir the shit must lick the spoon”. Maybe it’s time to put the spoon down or start licking because you are starting to act like that little Kansas bunch who like to spout hate and carry big signs.

    1. “What business is it of yours what we do in Lebanon, MO”

      I haven’t read all of your comment, but let me stop you here.
      Have you ever heard of that thing called the US constitution? It’s not a vague proposal on what to do if you feel like it. Why would you even think it matters where your critics sit in any case? What should matter is whether they are right?

      Also, you see, I’m not even American, and I still care. Why? Because when violations of the constitution and religious bullying happen in small town america, it affects the political climate of the whole country, and that, my friend, is an important factor in the fate of the western world. Also, I have friends in the US and want them to live in a free and pleasant country, not the theocratic hellhole. Last but not least, I have empathy for the shunned and persecuted minorities in Lebanon, MO. They are people who think and believe like me, and I feel sorry for them.

    2. Some people here have been rude, hateful, and quite childish…why?

      Around here, we ask for evidence so I’d like to ask for the evidence of comments here that are hateful or rude. Posters here are much politer than most places and our host admonishes those who are rude. Is it possible you don’t like what they commenters are saying so you characterize them as rude?

      I will ask, as I have others on various threads, as a believer do you not want those who believe differently than you to feel comfortable and welcome in your community at public, secular events? There are many that have come forward anonymously in fear of being bullied like this girl was when she expressed her discomfort with religion being forced upon her in her public school. Do Christians not want everyone to feel that they belong in their community?

    3. What business is it of yours what we do in Lebanon, MO?

      It is even more our business what you do in Lebanon than it was Kennedy’s business what Germans did in Berlin.

      Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades. All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

      If you take but a moment to browse this Web site’s archives over the past few days, you will find quite a number of reports of residents of Lebanon whose religious views do not align with yours nor with Principal Lowery’s — and, yet, most of those people have expressed their disagreement anonymously, out of fear.

      Out of fear of you.

      Out of fear of what you’d do to them if you learned that their religious views aren’t sufficiently aligned with yours.

      They are not free, and so we are not free — and neither are you free.

      That is our business in Lebanon, MO.

      You would be prudent to take another moment to review the relevant Wikipedia page and, especially, the Supreme Court cases it refers to. If your school board stays the course, your own tax money is about to get flushed down the toilet in a futile and, frankly, very embarrassing legal exercise in tilting at windmills.

      You will not win. You will lose, and painfully and spectacularly.

      If you have any care for the value you receive for your tax money, and any sense of American civic pride, you will urge the school board to stop this blatantly un-American nonsense and get back to work educating (and not indoctrinating) the students of Lebanon.

      Cheers,

      b&

    4. How is it our business?

      Just half a century ago, the same question was asked when it came to denying minorities their rights from such mundane things as prohibiting drinking from the same fountains to horrible acts such as lynchings. The fact that it had gone on yesterday and the day before and the day before that had no bearing on its correctness.

      An African American who had to drink from a different fountain was not free because he could still get the drink. Likewise, no one is free while compelled to listen to a Government representative entangle secular functions with personal religious views.

      Take a look around the world where theocracies exist, of particular interest are the Islamic ones where your Christian beliefs can and do result in blasphemy charges and death. This is real religious persecution. No one is trying to come tear down the religious institutions and churches you are so proud to boast about. When a free society says Government should not promote or deny anyone their religious freedoms, it is not just an abstract concept of Government regarding laws that matter, it is also the people who represent the Govenment, as Principal Lowery does in his official capacity as Principal of a secular school.

    5. “Instead, someone with a college degree decided to make it his business . . . .”

      As opposed to whom – someone who can’t be bothered to be to be the least bit intellectually-curious and motivated to think for herself?

    6. Does the fact allude you that somebody made a complain to the FFRF? From Lebanon?

      People who advocate the FFRF are going to care about what the FFRF does. Which right now, happens to be a case in Lebanon.

      People in Lebanon care that this is happening, they just don’t have as loud of a voice as Professor Coyne does. You have just seem to paint him as the soul leader. No, he just has the most viewed blog.

  37. Minor quibble: “but it’s not all right—with me, at least—to both openly praise his violation of the law, and do so defiantly.”

    It is alright with me if people defy the law – as long as they are prepared to deal with the consequences of doing so.
    In a couple of positive (to me) US cases: The Abolitionists not only did not help enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, but also actively worked against it. MLK was also pretty defiant vs. the law, and ended up in jail.

    Southern conservatives (and perhaps some of the people in MO.) would certainly disagree with me on those being “positive” actions.

  38. It’s worth noting that the Lebanon school board is in charge of hiring and firing all staff. The school board is elected by Lebanon residents. If the people in Lebanon are so angry about this principle and apparently he’s been doing this for years, then why haven’t they voted in school board members to speak for them?
    They put those people in that position. And for the person whose not even American whose posting his thoughts on what Lebanon does…Nobody in Lebanon really cares about what you think, with all due respect. It’s good that you care but we don’t need the influence of outside nations in our small towns. Don’t you have your own countries problems to worry about or is it your desire to make America just like yours? I think it would also be helpful for you to clarify where you are from..to appreciate your perspective. Thanks

    1. Hi, I’m from Lebanon, I care what they think.

      As do the students who have sent Jerry letters and–I’m assuming–other Lebanon residents who have contacted the FFRF/ACLU with concern.

      The argument, “you aren’t here, why do you care?” is an argument that I am quickly seeing as a concede of defeat.

      Ever hear of empathy?

    2. It’s worth noting that the Lebanon school board is in charge of hiring and firing all staff. The school board is elected by Lebanon residents.

      You are displaying a very common and very wrong understanding of the idea of democracy. It does not and cannot mean rule by the majority. That version has been tried and has failed every time. The reason that American democracy has succeeded so far is that we have so far had a Supreme Court that understands that it is the CONSTITUTION that rules. Even if your false statement that everyone in Lebanon likes Principal Lowery were true what he did was still unconstitutional.

      1. Kevin: You make an excellent point, one which IMHO points directly to the heart of the matter. In a well-functioning (important modifier) democracy, the majority is not permitted to tyrannize a minority.

        A majority may – and often does – vote tyrannical laws into existence, but (again) a well-functioning democracy will have mechanisms to modify or eliminate such (inevitable, in my opinion) attempts at tyranny. In the USA, that mechanism is the rule of law, both case and statute, capped by the Constitution.

        In my limited understanding, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” is taken to include freedom FROM religion – any particular religion or ALL of them – and freedom from imposition of religion by those in positions of authority, which, in this case, includes all government officials and public school principals.

        Everyone, in one way or another, is a member of a minority. Therefore, protecting the rights of any minority anywhere serves to protect the rights of everyone anywhere.

        I’m sure I’ve left out important issues, so comments are very welcome.

        1. Everyone, in one way or another, is a member of a minority. Therefore, protecting the rights of any minority anywhere serves to protect the rights of everyone anywhere.

          No extra comment necessary, you said it all right there.
          When my kids were little and they tried the ‘majority rule’ thing I would ask
          ‘If you got rid of every kid in your class that was different how many kids would be left?’
          ‘Most of them’
          ‘Think about the ones left, will they agree?’
          ‘Probably not’
          ‘No problem, just get rid of the ones that don’t agree with the majority. Will the rest agree?’
          ‘Yes’
          ‘And five minutes later the question changes? How about now?’
          ‘OK, dad, we get it.’

  39. The Lowery man reeks of playing in the fields of approval in his hometown. To do this through something as deep-rooted as religion is a powerful play. I’d wager he is playing this hand as a precursor to status gain for some sort political advancement. If he were to run for local office, he’d likely get whatever position he chose.

    I think he knows all too well that his religious townfolk will get all fired up about this topic and he will gain approval through it. That is evident enough with the fact that the citizens of Lebanon started such a FB page. Lowery may have broke the law, and possibly the school’s bank, but he is now wielding a lot of local power.

    1. To be fair, some WEIT-ians have used the wrong spelling as well, both in these threads and in the newspaper columnist’s comments section.

      While there are some fundie screeds that are hopelessly ungrammatical, I think we need to overlook the occasional misspelling until we’re perfect ourselves…

      (As for the “of” in place of “have”–I fear that will someday be allowed, based on common use. I hope I’m dead by then.)

      1. I suspect this is probably the result of “should’ve” being the contraction. It certainly sounds a lot like “should of.” The English language could’ve evolved differently to eliminate things like this; had I been its designer, maybe I would’ve done it.

Leave a Reply