Religious freedom (for some)

October 15, 2015



Managing Editor | ram049@latech.edu 




If you are from the Shreveport/Bossier area, chances are you have heard of what Fox and Friends called the “fight for faith” at Bossier’s Airline High School.  Excuse me while I roll my eyes at that interview, but this column is not about Fox News, so I’ll move on.


For those who have not had the pleasure of seeing “Airline Vikings Pray” plastered all over their Facebook friends’ profiles lately, let me bring you up to speed.


The ACLU recently sent a letter to Superintendent D.C. Machen of Bossier schools accusing Airline High School of religious proselytization.

Two complaints were expressed, one regarding Principal Jason Rowland’s use of “May God bless you all” at the end of a school newsletter, and the other about administration’s granting permission to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to hang prayer boxes around the schools.


While these two instances may seem harmless on the face, they really are problematic, and the outcry that followed the letter illustrates more fully the presence of Christianity at Airline.


I did not go to Airline High School but it seems that just about everyone in Bossier knows how religious Jason Rowland is and how often he expresses it in school.


I had heard from multiple people before the ACLU letter was written that they expected him to get in trouble at some point. The only thing surprising about the letter is that it did not come sooner, and that there were not more complaints.


First of all, Airline is a large school, and Airline is a diverse school. While the majority of students are probably Christian, there is a Muslim presence there, along with other religions and even atheism.


For people to think that they are promoting religious freedom in any way by posting “Airline Vikings Pray” all over social media astounds me. How alienating to those students at Airline who, in fact, do not pray to think that the community they live in feels this way.


This would be less problematic if the brand of religious freedom being promoted applied to more than Christianity.


I would bet an obscene amount of money that if a Muslim professor sent an email that ended with “Praise Allah,” these same protestors that feel so attacked now would be having a conniption.


Additionally, if students were to request to post boxes or statues hailing the Church of Satan, I really doubt that it would be met with the same reaction that the prayer boxes were.


While there is probably not a large enough presence of alternative religions in the South or at Airline to bring these scenarios into reality, it is that kind of clash that makes the separation of church and state so incredibly important, and what the community that is currently holding prayer rallies and praising Rowland for breaking the law should remember that they are advocating for.


Rachel Maxwell is a sophomore journalism major from Benton who serves as managing editor for the Tech Talk.


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