By David Waters
A California public school district is refusing the place on a new school campus six bricks inscribed with Bible verses. The district also is refusing to give a refund to the two women who bought and paid for the fundraising bricks.
The women who now possess the bricks sued the district this week for violating their constitutional rights to free speech, religion and masonry.
Another brick in the wall of separation?
Or a brick through the church’s stained-glass windows?
“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against and excluded from expressing their faith on public high school campuses when that door of communication is open to virtually everyone else,” David Cortman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is taking the case to court, said in a statement.
Objection, Mr. Cortman. There’s no evidence that the Desert Sands Unified School District is discriminating against Christians.
No doubt many, if not most, of the hundreds of people who purchased fundraising bricks for the new Palm Desert High School are Christians. This is America.
The verses and citations on two of the bricks were from the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalms and Proverbs), so if the district isn’t necessarily picking on Christian texts.
And the translations used on the bricks weren’t exactly word for word from King James or the King of Kings.
For example, one brick claims to carry this verse from Psalm 68:34: “TELL EVERYONE ABOUT GOD’S POWER.”
I couldn’t find that wording in any of the most popular and authenticated English versions of the Bible.
The King James Version puts it this way: “Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.”
The NIV: “Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies.”
The NRSV: “Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; and whose power is in the skies.”
Maybe someone on the school board prefers a more literal translation.
Besides, who is more qualified to quote correctly the Word of God? Public school officials who sell vanity bricks to economize or people who buy bricks to evangelize on in public schools?
School officials actually claimed a higher motivation:
“We need to respectfully decline the donation of bricks quoting scripture from the Bible,” a school official wrote in a letter to the two women. “I’m sure most parents will understand the Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.”
Objection, ma’am. If you were trying to uphold the principal of separation of church and state, why did you accept bricks inscribed with these messages?
OMG YOU DID IT IN 2007
GOD BLESS YOU BABE
SI SE PUEDE PHIL. 4:13
The last one references Phillippians 4:13, which according to King James says: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Yes, you can, but apparently only in Spanish.
The strangest part of the story is that the two women actually received the six biblical bricks they ordered. The district delined to use the bricks, but kept the $750.
So if they accept money from evangelical Christians, but decline to accept evangelical messages from Christians, does that make them hypocrites?
Or does that just make them government officials?
I wonder if the school district, or the Alliance Defense Fund, would accept a brick bearing a verse from Isaiah 65:3, describing “a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick.”