On this edition of my week-in-review feature, "The 3", I highlight recent developments concerning graduation and religion, the theft of a war memorial that just received reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court, and the announcement of a new high court nominee.
3 - "Friend or Foe" Graduation Campaign Announced, Graduation Controversies Begin
We are entering that very special season where high school seniors receive their diplomas at graduation ceremonies. There is still confusion about the rights of students to express their faith during those ceremonies, and, in a recent Connecticut lawsuit, even about the location of graduation ceremonies. Liberty Counsel has announced its 8th annual "Friend or Foe" Graduation Prayer Campaign to offer clarity, as well as legal assistance, if students feel their rights to free expression of religion are being impeded. Basically, students have the right to pray and share religious references in graduation ceremonies - where that type of expression has been judged by courts to be unconstitutional is when it is initiated by school officials.
Also, Alliance Defense Fund announced this week that an Arizona nursing school has decided not to eliminate the opening and closing prayers from its pinning ceremony, after receiving a letter from ADP.
Nevertheless, there are organizations, such as the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, that insist on disrupting free expression, sometimes in rather unusual ways. Take, for instance, the Connecticut lawsuit, where those two organizations have attempted to keep graduation ceremonies from being held in a church building. Here is CitizenLink's report.
2 - Mojave Desert Cross Stolen
Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the war memorial in the Mojave Desert did not have to be removed, vandals took the matter into their own hands and removed the memorial, which was in the shape of a cross. Liberty Institute, which has represented caretakers of the monument, has mounted a campaign to restore a memorial at that same site, and is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. And, according to The Christian Post, atheists have offered $5,000 to erect a more "inclusive" memorial.
And, in an interesting twist, the Desert Dispatch newspaper reports receiving an anonymous letter "explaining" the theft of the cross. Not any validation there, but the rationale expressed could actually reflect the mindset of someone taking the matter into their own hands.
Meanwhile, the debate over the significance of the display of religious symbols continues. This week, a Kentucky display of the 10 Commandments received a favorable ruling from a Federal appeals court. Here's the story from CBN News.
1 - Kagan Named New Supreme Court Nominee
The reponse was swift and not unexpected to the nomination of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, replacing retiring justice John Paul Stevens. Kagan, while lean on judicial experience, is recognized as a skilled academician, but some of her writings will probably give Senators on the Judiciary Committee some cause for close scrutiny with respect to whether or not she will assume an advocacy position on the court for such issues as abortion and gay rights. Her opposition to military recruiters being allowed on campus at Harvard because of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is one instance that opponents point to as an example of her advocate's stance. For an overview of some of the dynamics of Kagan's background, CitizenLink put together an excellent article.
The National Right to Life Committee exposed some of Kagan's writings that seem to disparage those who take a pro-life point of view. And, after the protracted hearings on the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor, perhaps Americans are scrutinizing justices more thoroughly with regard to their view of the Constitution. That might be one interpretation of a recent poll, reported on by The Christian Post, showing widespread opposition to the nomination of Kagan, even though most believe she will be confirmed. It will be interesting to see if enough opposition can be generated by Senate Republicans, 7 of whom voted to confirm her for Solicitor General, in order to derail her nomination.