Jewish World Review June 11, 1999 /27 Sivan 5759
Last week I wrote about a Calvert County, Maryland, high school senior who walked out of commencement when the audience spontaneously began reciting The Lord's Prayer. A graduating senior, Julie Schenk, had sought and was granted permission by the school principal to lead an invocation. She knew that the courts have allowed student-initiated prayer under certain conditions. The principal approved but later withdrew permission when another student, Nick Becker, brought the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) into the matter. A compromise allowed for a "moment of reflection.''
When that moment arrived, audience-initiated prayer followed. Becker walked out and was prevented from returning to the ceremony because of a school rule that forbids reentry into assemblies. He received his diploma later.
Becker is being portrayed in some quarters as a modern-day Thomas Paine and a martyr to the First Amendment. But a visit to his Web page reveals a disturbing anger.
Here's one of his little ditties. It's called "My Dad Can Go to Hell.''
What a touching Father's Day sentiment.
Elsewhere on his Web page, Becker says that the notoriety he's received since walking out of commencement is making him "bigger than Jesus'' in whom he doesn't believe. He says: "I am not an atheist. I definitely do not believe in a God who sits in the clouds and judges us right or wrong and decides whether we receive eternal pleasure or never-ending damnation. I have not ruled out the possibility of an Alpha God who created the universe, a sort of living force behind the Big Bang.''
Contrast this pattitude with that of Darrell Scott, the father of Rachael Scott, who was one of those killed at Columbine. Testifying May 27 before a House subcommittee, Scott read a poem he composed following his daughter's murder:
Compare Nick Becker's song lyric and Darrell Scott's poem and ask yourself which attitude better promotes the general welfare of our children and nation.
This isn't, and shouldn't be, about government imposing religious faith (or non-faith) on anyone. It should be about the ability of individuals, including students, to freely exercise their beliefs, which was the purpose of the First Amendment as originally understood. Congress would make no law establishing a national religion, so that everyone would have the widest latitude to freely exercise whatever faith they may or may not possess.
But in modern times, the government has determined that the public square is to remain naked of religion. The results of this imposed agnosticism are the things we deplore, such as school shootings, but refuse to do anything about other than pass more laws that are rarely enforced by the state or obeyed by the lawless.
So a single student can impose his will on 4,000 people in Calvert County, Maryland. What
about the rights of all the others? Why is God the only idea banned from government schools,
while the demons that produce the beliefs of a Harris, a Klebold and a Becker are tolerated,
protected, even promoted? Does this make sense? Only to the
06/09/99: Victory? What victory?