Specifically those who contacted us (we printed a letter from one of them in this week’s paper) had some inquiries about question No. 5 on the Herger questionnaire: “Recently, a school administrator issued an order to not allow students to view copies of historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address, because these documents mention God. Do you agree with this decision?” A little background may be needed here. I called Herger’s local office and asked field rep Sol Cranfill about the source of this info. He told me this took place at the Stevens Creek Elementary School in the Cupertino Union School District. It seems that Stevens Creek fifth-grade teacher Stephen J. Williams filed a federal lawsuit last November against school Principal Patti Vidmar. Stephens says the principal violated his First Amendment right to give his students supplemental material that includes religious references. Stephens, a self-described “orthodox Christian,” was supported in his efforts by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which actually filed the suit. The day after the suit was filed, ADF posted a press release on its Web page saying “Declaration of Independence Banned from Classroom.” Vidmar reportedly stepped in because of complaints that Stephens was teaching Christianity in the classroom and using historical documents as his vehicle.
The ADF is a right-wing religious group that claims on its Web site to be “the only legal ministry in the United States that provides regular, extensive, and top-level training through an accredited academy program to help practicing attorneys successfully defend and reclaim religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values.” It goes on: “In return for the training, which is provided at no cost, each attorney pledges 450 hours of pro-bono time to the Body of Christ.” Some parents in the school district are fighting back, saying their school has “joined the list of other schools that have been targeted before by ADF for the purpose of advancing” its political agenda. “We have the Declaration posted in our library, as well as the Constitution, and both documents are in the textbook used by all our fifth-grade teachers and approved by the state and the [school] board,” said parent Richard Crouch. “We say ‘under God’ in our Pledge of Allegiance.” ADF promises, “This is just the beginning.” There you go. Now finish that questionnaire; Rep. Herger’s waiting for your answers so he can form his policies.
So much for the promised boob-free Superbowl entertainment this year. No sooner do I settle down on the couch than I catch a glimpse of right-wing fiddle player Charley Daniels on stage. Thank god my kid was in his room playing some violent video game at the time. Where’s Michael Powell when you need him?
Last week I said we’d had to cut News Editor Josh Indar loose because he angered so many with his satirical piece on alternative healing practices. Like Indar, I was trying to make a joke that some people just didn’t get. Indar’s still here. Also last week I announced my retirement is set for March 28, 2020. Some people didn’t see the year and, perhaps blinded by their joy, assumed my departure was more imminent. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.