Excellent news! The parents of a sixth grade student in Louisiana whose teacher made fun of him because he is Buddhist have won their lawsuit against the school district.
In the past, Rita Roark had told her students that the universe was created by God about 6,000 years ago and informed them that both the Big Bang theory and evolution are false. She told her students that, “If evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today.”
This level of ignorance makes me wonder if this woman is actually a credentialed teacher.
One test she gave to students asked: “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The correct answer was “Lord,” but one child, known simply as “C.C.,” wrote in something else.
When informed that C.C. was a Buddhist and therefore didn’t believe in God, Roark allegedly responded, “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.”
When Scott and Sharon Lane, C.C.’s parents, confronted Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb about the incidents, she allegedly told them “this is the Bible belt” and that they “shouldn’t be offended” to “see God here.” Ebarb advised that C.C. should either change his faith or be transferred to another district school where “there are more Asians.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana filed a federal lawsuit in January against Negreet High School in Sabine Parish on behalf of the Lanes and their son.
Thankfully, Judge Elizabeth Foote of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana sided with C.C. and his parents, citing that both Roark’s behavior and the school’s decision to defend it clearly violated “the Free Exercise and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
Judge Foote wrote that “[t]he District and School Board are permanently enjoined from permitting School Officials at any school within the School District to promote their personal religious beliefs to students in class or during or in conjunction with a School Event.” Furthermore, “School Officials shall not denigrate any particular faith, or lack thereof, or single out any student for disfavor or criticism because of his or her particular faith or religious belief, or lack thereof.”
Too bad that Rita Roark did not lose her job over this incident. Clearly, some people who call themselves teachers should not be allowed anywhere near young people.
As a teacher with many years of experience, I am ashamed but also angry when I read of fellow teachers behaving in such a narrow-minded and cruel way. Teaching should be about helping kids fulfill themselves, not about putting them down and making them feel bad.
As Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, put it: “The treatment this child and his family have endured is not only disgraceful, it’s unconstitutional.”
“Public schools should be welcoming places for students of all backgrounds,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “No child should be harassed and made to feel like an outsider in his own classroom, and students should not have to endure school officials constantly imposing their religious beliefs on them while they are trying to learn.”
In case you’re wondering how a public school, funded by tax dollars can be pushing one religion, you should know that this situation is not unusual in Louisiana. Last year, the state decided to fix its failing public education system by offering parents vouchers to nearby private schools instead. Many of these schools are private religious institutions, meaning that other non-Christian students may find themselves having to sit through classes that criticize homosexuality and evolution, classes that are funded by tax dollars.
Perhaps Louisiana should take a look at schools in Ireland: a major change to the primary curriculum will occur in September 2014. Beginning at age 4, children will receive instruction in atheism, agnosticism and humanism as part of their ethics and belief systems alongside studies of other religions. The courses will be offered as part of the curriculum in non-denominational schools and will also be available online and via apps for those who attend other schools.
Meanwhile, Rita Roark will keep spouting her creationist beliefs as the truth. Too bad for those poor sixth graders, who may take quite some time to discover they have been lied to.
As a child, my mother Enid often said to me, “There is no such thing as a silly question,” and then would add, “unless.” This latter word was left hanging, and I eventually realised that it was up to me to learn the depth of its meaning.
At the same time that Enid was planting seeds for reflection, my first spiritual teacher, Ven. Lama Senge Tashi, encouraged me to cultivate more skilful thoughts, speech and actions. Sometimes I would try to verbally assert “I” or “Me,” and Lama would respond with, “Who is speaking?” or “Who is asking?”
No past, no present, no future. All created things arise and pass away. All names and labels dissolve. You can observe this in meditation practice and, in experiencing impermanence in life and so-called death.
At the conclusion of the Diamond Sutra, it is said that, this is how we should view our conditioned existence: as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.
In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says, “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has given many millions of people worldwide time to reflect on their lives and habits of thought, speech and action.
I know quite a few who have found a refuge of peace in their gardens. Cultivating, planting seeds, adding water and nutrients all help in maintaining a healthy garden. They are also a necessary part in taking care of our bodies. But what about the mind? Generosity, ethics, loving-kindness, compassion, meditative concentration and wisdom are the food for our inner spiritual garden. Without them there is no harvest, no fruit of Awakening, Buddhahood.
As a child my parents encouraged questions, as did my Heart Lama. However, the latter person gave me two questions to ask before speaking: “will what I am wanting to say, and the way I say it, be helpful or harmful to myself/others? Also, does the question come from ‘I don’t know’ (beginner’s mind), or from a place of judgement and opinions?” The aim was/is to cultivate the mind to be like an empty vessel, not one filled to the brim and overflowing where nothing new can enter.
What's your vision for the future of Moreland?
What do you imagine the future of Moreland to look like? What are your hopes, dreams and aspirations? How would you like to shape our city as we move towards a post-covid world?
Over the coming months, we’ll be talking with our community to find out what's important to you, and what services and projects you want us to prioritise to make Moreland the best it can be in the future.
We'll host pop-up events, workshops, a community panel process and much more, to create a Community Vision document that sets Council's priorities for the next four years and beyond. This Community Vision will guide other Council documents including the 4-year Council Plan, 4-year Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan, 10-year Asset Plan and 10-year Financial Plan.
This is an exciting opportunity for us to talk together about how to make Moreland an even greater place to live, work and enjoy for years to come.
Please note by participating in
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is not over yet. We need to keep looking after ourselves and our community to stop the virus spreading.
Due to increased cases in Victoria, some restrictions have changed. From 22 June 2020:
· You cannot have more than five visitors in your home
· You cannot gather outdoors with more than 10 people
· Schools, libraries, places of worship and businesses remain open
· Stay close to home and do not travel if possible
The Book was first published in 1942. The present edition has been revised and expanded. Though primarily intended for the students and beginners rather than scholars, the reader will find it an extremely valuable handbook, offering a sound foundation to the basic tenets of Buddhism as found in its original Pali tradition.
You are invited to a multifaith gathering to acknowledge Victoria’s bushfire crisis
Join Victoria’s faith and political leaders for a special multifaith gathering on the steps of Parliament House on Tuesday 4 February 2020.
Hosted by the Faith Communities Council of Victoria and the Multifaith Advisory Group (convened by the Victorian Multicultural Commission), the gathering will bring Victorians together to pray for those who have lost their lives and for the devastation of land, property and wildlife caused by the recent bushfires.
Together, we will show our appreciation and say thanks to the firefighters, emergency services and volunteers for their dedication, bravery and service.
We will also demonstrate our support for leaders on all sides of politics as they continue to lead our state through this unprecedented tragedy.
With the fire season not yet over and with relief and recovery efforts expected to take months, if not years, this event will demonstrate the stren
I consider myself to be one of the extremely lucky ones to study the Dharma at the Phap Bao temple every Sunday with awise, caring and compassionate teacher like Ven. Bhikkuni Giac Anh. The classes are like an endless supply of cool and pure water from a gentle stream that my Dharma friends and I can always drink from to quench our thirst and purify our body and mind.Over the years, I have seen incremental improvements in myselfsuch as being calmer, learning and practicing the Dharma better and applying the practical advice from my Teacher to better deal with everyday challenges.