The problem has reached such proportions that administrators at many schools are resorting to frisking students as they arrive at school, banning gang clothing and insignia, and conducting random locker searches as ways to control these dangers. Predictably, these actions land school officials in hot water with civil libertarians of the press bent on protecting the constitutional rights of students.
A new danger to public school students has now appeared on the horizon. And like the perils mentioned above, controlling the spread of this activity on high school campuses likewise impinges upon the constitutional rights of students. However, the magnitude of this danger looks so ominous that even that great defender of civil liberties, the Washington Post, has recognized the need to sacrifice constitutional rights in order to protect the lives of children.
In a recent editorial, analyzing the issues involved, the Post concluded that "...the fact that these activities are undertaken in public schools, where general attendance is required by law, and the fact that the citizens involved could be as young as 7th-graders..." persuasively argues for curbing the constitutionally protected liberties of students.
And what, you ask, is this latest threat to the lives of our nation's young? Campus Bible clubs. And what rankles the Post is that children are being needlessly exposed to this danger all because of Congress's folly in passing the Equal Access Act of 1984, which, as the Post explains, "prohibits secondary schools that allow students to have clubs that are not related to the curriculum from singling out and discriminating against clubs meeting for religious purposes."
Congress carefully crafted the Equal Access Act with the Supreme Court's current absurd interpretive twist on the Establishment Clause. And the Post itself concedes "how intricately [the Act] attempts to balance the requirements of free speech and the exercise of religious freedom with those of separation of church and state." But the Post still thinks the law a bad idea.
So what's the Post's beef? "Public schools should not be an arena in which students are helped to divide into religious groups for purposes of religious practice" moralizes the Post. "Prayer meetings, worship services and religious instruction belong in churches and homes, not in public facilities."
The Post's moral dictum is breathtaking in its audacity; one only wonders whether to lament more over the degree of stupidity or the manifest hypocrisy necessary for the Post to maintain such a position. This is the same Washington Post that castigates parents for wanting sex education taught "in churches and homes, not in public facilities." The same paper that mocks parents who don't view reading The Catcher in the Rye as an indispensable right of passage for teens. The same paper that only last year was ready to don sackcloth and ashes when the Supreme Court ruled that school administrators could exercise editorial oversight on a high school newspaper.
If it could be demonstrated that Bible study greatly reduced the likelihood of teen pregnancy, would the Post object to campus Bible clubs or school-based clinics handing out free Bibles?