As a radio talk show host, I read a couple of dozen newspapers a day on the Internet. And rarely do I come across anything as crazy as the proposal in Davis schools to limit religious clothing and courtesy titles.
If I read it right, folks are hacked off because Mormon missionaries volunteering in the schools are wearing missionary name tags, typical Mormon missionary garb and being called "elder" and "sister." So hacked off, in fact, that they propose banning such things.How ridiculous.
To say nothing of un-American, intolerant and arguably illegal.
Religious honorifics and courtesy titles are part of our culture and society. If Billy Graham or Jesse Jackson were to visit a Davis school, would he be introduced as "mister" or as "the reverend"? How about the Roman Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City, or better yet, the pope? Would students have to call him Mr. John Paul II, and would he have to abandon his vestments, which implicitly identify him as a representative of his church?
In America, the First Amendment guarantees the right to dress and be addressed according to personal religious convention. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union has championed such cases. And if the Davis schools seek to restrict those rights as a condition to volunteering, they need to be prepared to explain in a court of law how a protected religious expression can be a disqualifier to access to a government facility or accommodation.
My bet: Some federal judge will laugh loud and long about this one.
This policy is stemming not from wisdom, but from animus. Children are being deprived of tutors because of something that smells a lot like religious bigotry. And maybe that's OK in Utah, but if you'll accept an outsider's opinion, it's going to look pretty stupid to the rest of the country.