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    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    From the Culture Desk...

    Don't Look! It's a...BIBLE!

    Court decides Religion should neither be seen, nor heard by citizens in a government workplace. Voluntary prayer and discussion of religion restricted.

    The 9th Circus, excuse me, Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling against an evangelical Christian social worker instructing that he may not display religious items or keep a Bible in his office within view of the welfare recipients he counsels. Apparently, such an act constitutes a blatant disregard of the sacred wall of separation between church and state. Daniel Berry, who worked for the Tehama County Department of Social Services in northern California, was reprimanded for this in 2001. He is free to read his Bible, but the court said it should be kept in a drawer. Also, he must not discuss religion or pray with his clients because, well, it's just not a good idea. Voluntary prayer in the conference room -- that's frowned upon too. Gotta do that in the break room or outside.

    Here is an excerpt from the court's opinion re: sharing one's faith:

    It follows that any discussion by Mr. Berry of his religion runs a real danger of entangling the Department with religion. This danger is heightened by Mr. Berry's admission that unless restricted, he will share his faith with others and pray with them. Although Mr. Berry states he will only do so "when appropriate," he does not explain how he determines when sharing his religion is appropriate. Furthermore, any legal consequences from Mr. Berry's discussion of religion with clients will fall upon the Department, as much as, if not more than, on Mr. Berry. We conclude that under the balancing test, the Department's need to avoid possible violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment outweighs the restriction's curtailment of Mr. Berry's religious speech on the job.

    And another excerpt re: appropriate uses of the conference room -- baby showers and birthdays are fine, prayer is not:

    Birthday parties and baby showers are arguably less likely to challenge employees' religious beliefs, are less likely to exclude employees and are unlikely to be held to "honor" any individual employee more than once a year. Certainly the distinction is not compelling, but we think that it is reasonable, and that is all that is required for a nonpublic forum. Cornelius, 473 U.S. at 808. We conclude that the Department's decision to deny Mr. Berry's proposed use of the Red Bluff Room, a nonpublic forum, for prayer meetings did not violate his rights under the First Amendment.
    I'm sure the Founders would be proud to see that this is what our Republic's legal system has come to.

    Click here for the story

    Click here for the full court opinion [PDF-24 pgs.]

    posted by Arkansas Razorbaptist at 5/03/2006 09:00:00 AM

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