Monday, November 14, 2005

BJC Article on Hillsborough County Schools Controversy

The BJC (Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty) recently posted an article about the debate currently going on in the Hillsborough County (where I'm from, the county that Tampa is in) School Board concerning religious holidays. I know a lot of my blog readers are from Tampa, so I thought you would find this interesting. You can read it by clicking here.

My personal response would be to eliminate the religious holidays for all religions, and allow the students a reasonable number of "floating holidays" they could use to observe the days of their choice. A solution like that would eliminate the sense that the government was favoring one or two religions over others (and therefore satisfy the establishment clause of the first amendment) and also protect the religious liberty of students to observe whatever religious holidays they choose (and therefore satisfy the free exercise clause of the constitution.)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gil--the BJC thanks you for posting the article! If you are interested in writing more about the issue, let us know!

Emilee Simmons, BJC communications
esimmons@bjconline.org

Eric said...

I'm so thankful that I no longer live in Hillsborough county. The county commission has been getting more and more ridiculous as time goes by.

Even if you ignore the Florida constitution (the one that's applicable in this case), the reality is that it simply isn't practical or efficient to continue maintaining a list of holidays. The original Board proposal allowed students to take an excused absence, with a parent's note, for any religious holiday. It also stipulated that teachers could not schedule tests or other critical activities on known holidays. Eventually, once the furor dies down, the school board will reimplement that policy. I think it's inevitable and, ultimately, the wisest course of action.