NC Schools Investigate Religious Activity

North Carolina’s Moore County Schools (MCS) investigate religious activity among its staff and coaches. According to Lady Liberty 1885, back in March 2015 staff board attorney Neal Ramee sent MCS Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey a letter regarding laws governing participation by staff or coaches in religious activities in schools including prayer.

The letter is part of an investigation via a survey called Staff Prayer Questionnaire that asks if employees have “ever participated in or seen any prayers at any MCS athletic games or events” Further, the survey goes on to ask for the time it occurred, location, and duration. It asks for details such as, the content of the prayer and what was said before and after the prayer. Lastly, it asks for names of the participants including employees and students.

Recently Daily Haymaker published Superintendent Grimesey’s response to a formal complaint from an attorney for an advocacy group at a MCS athletic event. Dr. Grimesey had sought guidance from the school system’s attorneys, and as a result, they generated a memorandum that was distributed to the schools.

Dr. Grimesey said that the survey was for school principals and other staff only, and not meant to be seen by the public. He insisted that the intention of the survey was to “gather information so that I could confer with legal counsel to ensure that the social district was adhering to all applicable legal rules.”

In his letter he points out, “The First Amendment (and school board policy) allows students and staff to engage in such activities as private prayer and Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in comparable non-religious activities.” However, the staff are prohibited from “actively praying with students while acting in their official capacities as school employees.”

Dr. Grimesey insists that the school system “takes all of these constitutional rights and limitations very seriously and in no way discriminates against religion,” and that the purpose of the survey was to ensure the school system’s “compliance with constitutional requirements.”

Constitutional requirements are what the The First Amendment Center refers to as the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Teachers are subject to this, and are therefore “required to be neutral concerning religion while carrying out their duties as teachers.” Additionally, “Teachers do not have the right to pray with or in the presence of students during the school day.”

Further, Dr. Grimesey insists that the survey was never to be distributed to coaches but to be used by principals and athletic directors to conduct confidential interviews with coaches. Lastly, he says, “There was never any intention to direct any questions to any students or to any staff members other than principals, athletic directors, and coaches.”

The Haymaker points out, “Several of the questions in the document appear to encourage informing on other school system employees.” It suggests that a Pinecrest High School football coach Chris Metzger was targeted in this investigation. Metzger is “well-known for his involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, participation in Christian events, and encouragement of his players who also wish to do so.”

How will the staff and coaches be affected by this investigation? Further, what kind of culture will develop in the school system as a result?

Image of Mr. Grimesey via WRAL

 

Duke Student: USA’s Obsession With The First Amendment Is Expression Of White Supremacy

Duke University student says America’s “obsession with the First Amendment” is an “expression of white supremacy,” according to the Daily Caller. Graduate student Bennett Carpenter in the university newspaper The Chronicle says that a conversation about racism on the Duke campus and across the country is “urgent and overdue.” However, he says it has been “derailed by a diversionary and duplicitous obsession with the First Amendment.”

The article points out that the graduate student is “apparently unaware of the irony of using a newspaper column to call for restrictions on free speech.” The graduate student says that Americans “give too much deference to the First Amendment and should focus more on censoring violent speech.”

The Daily Caller points out that Carpenter, who appears to be white, devotes much of his column to the subject of white fragility. He says that the conversation has “shifted from white supremacy to white fragility—and how this shift is itself an expression of white supremacy.”

The Duke graduate student in his article says white frailty “refers to a range of defensive behaviors through which white people (or more accurately people who believe they are white) deflect conversation about race and racism in order to protect themselves from race-based stress.”  He says that this is because “white people tend to live in environments where whiteness is both dominant and invisible,” and as a result, “they grow accustomed to racial comfort, as a result of which even a small amount of racial stress becomes intolerable.”

In the United States, according to Carpenter, “free speech seems more important than black lives.” Meanwhile, he says, “Students describe—with utter unintentional irony—how being called-out by anti-racist activists makes them feel upset and hurts their feelings.” For whom, there is no real protection beyond the confines of the campus.  He says, “The very government, quite literally built on white supremacy could somehow save us from its effects.” As a result, the students are left to “construct safe spaces” for themselves “where hate is barred at the door”

“Words hurt as much as actions; indeed, words are actions.” He illustrates this by saying, “Within the context of white supremacy, any distinction between a defaced poster, a racist pamphlet and legal or extralegal murder can only be of degree.” He equates current First Amendment-protected speech on the subject of racism with hate speech.

He uses the example of the prohibition of walking into a crowded theater and shouting “fire!” The student says, “How is this any different from walking into a white supremacist society and shouting racial slurs?” He goes on to say that this is perpetuated because “it has become almost a truism that there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment.”

He quotes the National Center for Human Rights and Education as saying that this has only been allowed by the courts in recent years, that “privileged white racists” are left to express themselves at the “expense and safety of African-Americans and other people of color.”

The Duke graduate student’s sentiments are the latest in a wave of political correctness emanating from college campuses in the United States. The Daily Caller quotes Pew Research Center as saying, “40 percent of Americans aged 18-34 are in favor of government censorship of speech that is offensive to minority groups.”

As this movement to gains momentum, one wonders, what will our society look like a decade from now? Will this continue to bring about a shift in culture to restrict free speech?

George Orwell said, “If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”

Image of Duke University Chapel via Legal Insurrection