The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Much Ado

October 10, 2006 | 24 Comments

For reading a Bible at lunch, Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School seventh-grader Amber Mangum allegedly got threatened with disciplinary action by a school employee. So the twelve-year old is suing. The head of a leading skeptic’s groups is skeptical:

Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, said most of the time, “right-wing groups” that file lawsuits “exaggerate what happened in school, and that is usually brought out later in the case.”

“What probably happened is this kid, I’ll bet you, was being disruptive. I bet this kid was proselytizing, was preaching, doing something that was annoying other kids and was told to stop. Kids don’t normally want to read the Bible at lunch time — I don’t care who they are. It’s just not something kids want to do,” said Johnson.

The Friendly Atheist (f/k/a eBay Atheist) finds this response impolitic. He suggests Ms. Johnson should have refrained from speculating about what happened and simply expressed support for Amber’s right to read.

Johnson’s suggestion that no kids ever voluntarily read the Bible is bizarre. But reading the complaint, filed by the Rutherford Institute, one does get the impression that something fishy is going on. The basis of suit is not so much that the school seriously intends to prohibit Bible reading, but that it failed to respond quickly enough to a note complaining about the incident. The note was delivered to the principal’s office on September 20th, and the suit was filed just two weeks later, on October 4th.

Which seems to be jumping the gun, given the confusion obviously caused by the note. It unambiguously identified Vice Principal Jeanette Rainey as the rights-violating villain, an accusation repeated by the Washington Post and other news sources. But according to the complaint, “plaintiff [Amber’s mother] alleges, on information and belief, that Amber was mistaken in her identification and the person who gave her the order was not Vice Principal Rainey.”

So after sending the note the plaintiffs had sufficient contact with the school to satisfy themselves that Amber’s perception of things was a bit off. I’m guessing that Ms. Rainey denied the accusation and the school figured that would be the end of the matter, given that the plaintiffs believed her. Did the plaintiffs follow-up with the principal’s office and inquire whether, assuming it was some lunchlady who had given the directive, it was official school policy? Apparently they thought litigation would be a simpler way to discover the answer than a phone call.


24 Responses to “Much Ado”

  1. Choobus
    October 10th, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

    Typical, this kid is reading seriously inflammatory work, featuring incest, torture and murder and he is merely threatened, while I was suspended in the seventh grade simply for reading JUGGS, a magazine featuring nothing but the beauty of nature.

    That aint right

  2. The Power of Greyskull
    October 10th, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

    Ha ha ha ha ha.

    At least you couldn’t be accused by Fred Phelps of being satan worshiping FAG.

  3. Kamikaze189
    October 10th, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    Let the little anointed one read her bible. Let the smart kids read Dawkins.

    And let choobus read his dirty mags.

  4. andy holland
    October 11th, 2006 @ 7:34 am

    Real christians do not file lawsuits. Consider the Amish for example, who have shown compassion for the man’s family and even the man (attending the funeral) who shot their own children.

    You receive an “education” devoid of facts, except ones making Ameri(k)anism into some sort of religion – secular, material, and transitory – much like Rome. There is data to the contrary, and it is a shame few consider it.

    October 11th, 2006 @ 7:51 am

    Well, the Raving Antiabortionist has finally posted about some real-world current event rather than his recent metaphysical mumbo-jumbo babble.

    Too bad it’s such a boring news item.

  6. Drusilla
    October 11th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    At five, I began reading Genesis and finished the entire Bible by the time I was seven. (I learned to read when I was three.) By seventh grade, I had read the entire Bible again and, since then, have read it perhaps another four or five times and have studied individual books in depth. But since I’ve only read bits of Dawkins here and in other places, I suppose I’m not smart. Que sera.

  7. Godthorn
    October 11th, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

    Andy, you need to read a good book now and then. That’s “g.b.,” not “G.B.”

    And Drusilla, in anticipation of your retort, I have read a great deal in the “Good Book,” and still dip into it now and again.

    October 11th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

    I’ve read to somewhere aroung up to the 1st Samuel.

    I’ve found it difficult to wade through the rest of the darn thing as it just seems like silly stuff to me.

    Guess I’m not smart enough.

  9. Realityhack
    October 11th, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    Um… read the complaint RA the preamble and section 16 & 17 make it clear that the issue is that the school has refused to state that Amber will not be punished if she attempts to read the bible quietly durring lunch.

    It looks like the parrents wanted a clear statement that she would not face punishment in the future and didn’t get it. If that is the case it would be a clear violation of rights.

  10. Drusilla
    October 11th, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

    Godthorn –

    Retort? Moi?

  11. Drusilla
    October 11th, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

    By the way, I’ve also read the complaint and Realityhack’s assessment is spot on.

    October 11th, 2006 @ 6:26 pm

    Is this case even for real (or at least still active)?

    I find no trace of it when searching the Maryland judicial court cases.

    And only find reference to it at apparently conservative internet/news sites?

    Somethings seems fishy to me.

  13. Snakefish
    October 11th, 2006 @ 10:23 pm

    Would it really surprise you to find out that They would lie to further their agenda?

  14. pC
    October 12th, 2006 @ 3:40 am

    i bet you 100 dollars if he was reading the koran or some other religious text that no one would heve said anything. Far out, why can’t people read the Bible without the anti religious folk getting upset?

  15. HappyNat
    October 12th, 2006 @ 7:48 am

    pC, It is truely sad that Christianity is under attack in America. I don’t know how you Christians stay so strong being the minority. That is way I became an Atheist, I couldn’t take the persecution.

    October 12th, 2006 @ 8:10 am

    Religious persecution in this country is a freaking joke.

    All most atheists want is to have religion out of government and having not have it baltantly displayed in public.

    Cases like the one mentioned above are anomolies.

    Most atheists don’t give a shit if someone quietly reads their big book of superstition in public.

    Christians like to weep on how persecuted they are but I bet you a dollar many would love to force their religion upon us if they could get away with it.

  17. Thorngod
    October 12th, 2006 @ 9:23 am

    Well, just imagine how uncomfortable and uncertain you’d be if you still believed in the Easter Bunny and a lot of smart kids kept laughing at you and telling you you were full of shit. It would be a lot easier to be a believer if there were no dissenters.

  18. Snakefish
    October 12th, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

    “i bet you 100 dollars if he was reading the koran or some other religious text that no one would heve said anything. Far out, why can’t people read the Bible without the anti religious folk getting upset?”

    Really? Try reading a koran in a christian school sometime. Not only do you get hassled, but you don’t get that koran back. Oh, the teachers don’t do anything, their indoctrined children do.

  19. Drusilla
    October 12th, 2006 @ 2:49 pm

    Thorngod –

    I still believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy too. (When I had a baby tooth pulled not so long ago, I insisted my dentist give it to me because coming from an adults mouth, it should be worth much more than if I had lost it as a child.)

    DISCLAIMER: I tend to believe in creatures that give me money and candy.

  20. Godthorn
    October 12th, 2006 @ 9:00 pm

    Thorngod would not deign to answer that. I’ll merely acknowledge it.

  21. andy holland
    October 13th, 2006 @ 9:05 am

    Dear Godthorn,

    I do read good books; did you know that the term “visually challenged” was common in the 4th Century? There is nothing new under the sun.

    Too bad people don’t deal in facts and data – but then their pupils would burn from the light of life that surrounds them.

    In the last few chapters of II Esdras, the Eagle with the especial head receives a just reward as it is burned in fire – they call stars down on all the high places, even their own star – and everyone sees the clouds (the Chinese now have the US Navy’s variable yield version). And in the 4th chapter if you read carefully the history of our “trinity”, the enigmatic question “can you weigh a measure of fire, measure a blast of wind, or recall a day that is past” is two thirds fully answered, and one part half answered.

    As for those outside the Ark, the epitaph applies ‘and without are dogs and sorcerers.’ Repent while you still can . History has unfolded exactly as foretold – but of course, all that was from the “dark” ages.

    No need to worry, science has all the answers. There will be peace on Earth. There is no place more peaceful than a graveyard. Repent-change your mind, while you still can.

    andy holland

  22. Thorngod
    October 13th, 2006 @ 10:48 am

    Andy, I was dead for billions of years before I was born, and was totally unconcerned. When I’m dead again, I will not care.

  23. andy holland
    October 13th, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    Dear Thorngod,

    You mean “Life Challenged.”

    andy holland

  24. Godthorn
    October 13th, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

    I mean what I said–though I can’t say in absolute certainty that YOU do not remember your previous existence. I CAN say with reasonable certainty that I would not be surprised to hear you make the claim.

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