Saturday, October 08, 2005

When in Doubt, Whip Jesus Out


Sigh. Why do I continue to watch the news? Especially local news? I swear Texas must be a magnet for religious zealots.

Case in point: Some Biblemonkey named Janice Colston has hired a Religious Right group to speak on her behalf against the Crowley, Texas ISD. Apparently she planted herself smack dab in a high-traffic area of the school and started handing out religious material. The school encouraged her to move down the sidewalk, instead of directly in front of an entrance/exit, but that wasn't good enough for the Liberty Legal Institute. According to her attorney, Kelley Shackleford (no relation to Ted Shackleford of Knot's Landing fame):

"The right to speak and to share the gospel is a precious right. It's a fundamental right in this country and we're not going to stand idley by while government officials intentionally violate that right." This quote was brought to you by the letter 'R' and the word "right."

If the school doesn't allow Janice Colston, of Fort Worth, Texas, to hand out the literature where she wants, they will sue.

*Read the original article here. Read the FAX from the Forth Worth law office ("Whitaker, Chalk, Swindle & Sawyer"...how precious is it that one of them actually has the name "SWINDLE?" LOL!) representing Janice Colston here.

Here's a copy of the "Demand Letter" sent to Crowley ISD:

Fort Worth – Today, Liberty Legal Institute sent a demand letter to Crowley Independent School District on behalf of Janice Colston, who was denied free speech rights outside Crowley High School last spring.

“Mrs. Colston has a clear and undeniable right according to the First Amendment to stand on a public sidewalk and distribute religious literature,” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Liberty Legal Institute. “It is outrageous that the school district has singled out this grandmother and barred her from an entire block of a public sidewalk.”

The situation arose when Mrs. Colston was prohibited from passing out religious literature on a public sidewalk near Crowley High School after school hours. Before interacting with anyone, Mrs. Colton was stopped and told to move to the end of the street, therefore preventing contact with students. Mrs. Colston contacted Liberty Legal Institute seeking advise, then made several attempts to resolve this matter with the school district but to no avail.

“Every citizen has a right to speak and share the Gospel on a public sidewalk. This is a precious right,” Shackelford said.

In the demand letter issued today, Mrs. Colston requests that she be allowed to distribute religious literature on the public sidewalk without intervention from school officials.

“The Crowley ISD, despite being warned several times through attempts to resolve this, continues to bow its neck in the face of clear constitutional law and the freedom of speech and religion,” said Tom Brandon, co-counsel for Mrs. Colston. “This demand letter is intended to send a clear message to the school district that it cannot blatantly offend the Constitution without facing legal action.”

3 Comments:

Blogger Mariana said...

Hi, Kirk! I just wanted to give you a heads up on your fanlist buttons. At the time I am posting this none of them is showing up.

Sunday, October 09, 2005 3:13:00 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

I know that here, the Gideons can't even silently hand out Bibles (just hand them out, no preaching, etc) on school property. They have to stand in the middle of the street or off school property. A student can testify to their classmates in the same manner they would discuss any other subject but don't have "the constitutional" right to harass others. If someone doesn't care to hear it, it's harassment.

Other states and cities have other laws, those are just the ones I know of in my own town.

Sunday, October 09, 2005 9:50:00 AM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

Mariana-
Thanks for letting me know, but (for once) I actually already knew about them. Actually, they haven't been showing up for a lonnnng time. Days after I uploaded allllll of them the first time, my old image host died on me and I just didn't have the energy to reload them all over again. However, with you as my inspiration, they have all been uploaded. I'm so relieved, actually. I've been meaning to do it for a very long time.

Thanks again! :D

Terri-
You know, I don't so much have a problem with someone handing out religious material (if you don't believe me, read this blog post). BUT, what I do have a problem with is deliberately handing them out to children (high school age on down). I don't think it's appropriate. If these people truly want to "reach out" to children, then they need to get involved in their own church's youth group(s) or perhaps approach some of these kids parents. You can bet they wouldn't dare do that. This woman intentionally sought out children because they are impressionable and easily manipulated. That's fucked up.

Like most religious zealots, she could make better use of her time (which apparently she has an abundance of) in a more productive way. Not proselytizing to children whose parents aren't present.

I still strongly contend in the separation of church and state. I don't think religion has a place in school. If parents want their children and their classmates as a whole to participate so badly in acts of religion during class and/or be taught "Intelligent Design," then they need to place their children in a Christian/private school. If they can't afford it or that's not an option, that's not my problem. Otherwise, it'd be as ridiculous as me, as a gay man, to expect the school to take time and money out of their budget to schedule a mandatory class on the history of homosexuality. Ridiculous. It's not going to happen, and I would never just expect it simply because I believe in it. A lot of people (esp. these so-called "Christians") don't approve of it. There's an appropriate time and a place for everything and religion should be reserved for church, not being propagated at school.

Thanks for commenting! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 12:58:00 AM  

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