On Friday, February 6, 2009, my school, Davie High School, broke the law.
Class schedule was rearranged to accommodate a mandatory assembly. Teachers were instructed to take their classes to the gym to listen to a guest speaker/one man volleyball team. Teachers who did not have a class at the time were instructed to perform sweeps of the buildings, ensuring that all students were in the gym. After cramming the entire population of my school (students and teachers, approximately 1800 people) into the gym (which has to have broken fire code somehow) this one-man volleyball team was soundly defeated by the DHS Girls volleyball team. Afterwards, he played a team of guys picked from the audience, and won. He then played the entire senior boy population, and won. He then beat a team of teachers. An odd presentation so far, but nothing terrible.
Then the "motivational speech" part comes in.
A paraphrase of his message:
Don't commit suicide. Don't drink alcohol. TV needs to stop portraying women as sex objects. By the way, Jesus is my motivation. Jesus Jesus Jesus God Jesus God God Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus. If the president of the United States can be sworn in using the Bible, then the Bible should be put back in schools. Jesus Jesus. If you want to hear part two of my message, we are giving away free tickets so you can come to x place at x time tomorrow. It will be the largest gathering of teenagers in North Carolina history. Jesus Jesus Jesus God Jesus. I will feel like a failure if you're not there. Jesus. God. Jesus God Jesus Jesus.
Bear in mind: Our principal hired this man, this self-billed evangelist, to come speak to us. I don’t know how much it cost, because the man’s website says “pricing varies based on location and the number of assemblies booked.” However, the fact that the entire school population was crammed into the gym (many students were forced to sit on the floor, and the faculty and staff lined the walls and blocked the doors- not to prevent people from leaving, but because there was simply nowhere else to stand) heavily implies that my school could not afford two assemblies.
According to the United States Supreme Court ruling in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000),
"School sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.”
I know of several people of other religions who attend my school. The fact that they were forced to attend an event in which a man’s religious beliefs were forced upon them is not only illegal, it is absurd. Were this “motivational speaker” to have spoken about atheism, agnosticism, Islam, Wicca, or any other religious group, and in turn proclaim that it should be brought into the schools, I have no doubt that parents would gather outside of the principal’s office with torches and pitchforks. Simply because the majority of the student population is Christian does not mean that the principal can bring in a Christian evangelist to come say whatever he wants to the students. Even I was offended, and I am a Christian myself. Personally, I don’t like it when someone shoves their religious beliefs down my throat, even when I agree with what they are saying.
What happened in that gymnasium was wrong. Not only was valuable instructional time wasted to accommodate this man, doing so broke the law. Situations like these are what lawsuits are made of.
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