Believe in the Lord, Or Else!

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

This one case is one very sad example of how there is still extreme religious and racial discrimination left in this country. This case is about a boy (whose name has been withheld because of his age) who is of Thai descent and a Buddhist. He was enrolled at Negreet High School of the Sabine Parish School Board in the State of Louisiana. From day one this poor kid was humiliated and even threatened because he is a Buddhist and of Asian descent. Even the teachers humiliated him and made fun of this poor kid in front of their classes. The principal and superintendent of the school stated very clearly that this boy should either “change his religion” or “enroll in a school with Asians.”

These remarks are not only in total violation of the U.S. Constitution, but extremely racist to say the least. Who runs the Sabine School Board, the Ku Klux Klan?! Apparently, the people who run the whole school board are a bunch of racist, fanatical religious bigots. The U.S. Constitution is very clear on the separation of religion from state institutions, and state public schools are among them. All of our children, no matter what religion and race they may be of, deserve the best education possible free of any racial and religious prejudice. That religious indoctrination in the Christian religion is rampant in this and all other high schools in this part of Louisiana is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against this school board, this school parish not only has teachers that promote Christian ideas, but also school officials regularly pass out Bibles and Christian literature on school grounds.

That is why the American Civil Liberties Union has become involved. The case of Lane vs. Sabine Parish School Board is a fundamental of our most basic rights under the U.S. Constitution. This type of discrimination harkens back to the 1950’s when anyone who was of the “wrong race” or “wrong religion” were simply not allowed to even enroll in certain schools. That this is happening in the early 21st Century is absurd, and should NOT be allowed under the guise of “religious freedom.” There can be no religious freedom when one religion is being favored in any single public institution over another. Just as equally bad, I see extreme racial overtones in the whole thing. Both this boy’s racial descent as well as his religion are being targeted in a school system that seems to emphasize all its students at being Christian as well as white. As someone who is married to a Korean, I am offended by these kind of people on a personal level. It is almost as if the whole Civil Rights era is being reenacted in this one part of Louisiana. In this context, there can only be one outcome—the complete separation of faith from our public institutions and that all students should be allowed to be in the same classrooms regardless of their racial and ethnic backgrounds.

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