Issue 74, Summer 1999

Congress must believe that flag-burning is epidemic. Year after year, the House of Representatives votes to ban physical “desecration” of the flag. This session is no exception. It remains for the Senate (two votes shy of passing the Constitutional amendment) to again rescue the free expression symbolized by our flag. Then let Congress get on with the real burning issues!

In a new twist in the battle against evolution, creationists in Kansas hope to convince the Board of Education to drop evolution from the curriculum! Since it is unconstitutional to teach religious theory in the schools, creationists argue, evolution must also go. Shades of Isaac Asimov, who punned: “I’d let them teach creationism in the schools if they let us teach evolution in the churches.”

More good news than bad for a Bedford, New York school district charged with teaching “satanic rituals and cult worship:” a federal district judge rejected 12 claims of violation of students’ religious freedom rights, but accepted three. He ordered the school to bar lessons that incorporate religious symbols or routines, such as allowing children to make “worry dolls,” to repeat “creeds” in Earth Day celebrations, and to construct paper models of Ganesha, the Hindu god. A Court of Appeals may disagree.

In Elgin, Illinois, the middle school library’s ban on Judy Blume’s Forever, will remain. The school board removed the novel two years ago, citing parental complaints about sexuality. NCAC has urged the school board to reinstate Forever, pointing out that removal of books because of content is unconstitutional. For NCAC’s letter, click here.

Kudos to ReLeah Lent, this year’s winner of PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment award. Lent, who teaches English in Florida’s Mosely High School, is a champion of freedom of expression and student press rights (see Censorship News 68).