The ADF has filed suit against an elementary school in Pennsylvania that, if the allegations in the lawsuit are accurate, acted about as stupidly as is humanly possible. Here’s the local news story:
The complaint, filed in federal court Tuesday, says officials at Willow Hill Elementary School in Glenside told the boy Oct. 31 that he could not wear his faux crown of thorns or tell others he was dressed as Jesus.
The principal, Patricia Whitmire, told the boy’s mother that the costume violated a policy prohibiting the promotion of religion, according to the lawsuit. Whitmire suggested that the fourth-grader, whose costume also included a robe, identify himself as a Roman emperor, the suit states.
Now, I learned long ago not to trust ADF press releases. After all, this is the same group that put out the “Declaration of Independence Banned” press release about the Cupertino school district a couple years ago. But in that case, the school had told a teacher he couldn’t hand out a whole range of supplemental materials, one small portion of which included a quote from the Declaration, so there was a tiny kernel of truth there even if exaggerated out of all proportion.
In this case, it’s much more a simple either/or; either the principal told him he couldn’t wear the costume or she didn’t. And I’d be surprised if the ADF would file a complaint with that claim in it that wasn’t true. And if it’s true, frankly, this principal should be fired. There are some close calls when it comes to church/state questions and the public schools, but this isn’t one of them. If you’re having kids dress up for halloween, you can’t forbid them dressing up as religious figures. This isn’t a close call and it doesn’t require a law degree; it’s basic common sense. If you can’t get that one right, you’ve got no business running a school.