The overall policy says that the Buncombe County school system will "neither advance nor inhibit any religion or religious belief, viewpoint, expression or practice."
In case you missed it last night, Angela Pippinger from the Pagan Mom Blog live-Tweeted the meeting, through several hours of commentary from residents who, in general, are really tired of being persecuted for standing up for Jesus, and so on. There seemed to be a pervasive overview that the school board was trying to take religion away from everyone ALWAYS, and in fact Angela says, "people still were crying tears (literally, not kidding!) that Jesus would be removed from their kids' lives." She's got a great recap over at her blog, so be sure to read it.
It's important to note that the board did NOT vote on the issue of whether or not religious groups can leave materials like Bibles at middle and high schools for distribution. This is something that the board is considering, but according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, "chairman Bob Rhinehart said he wants to get feedback from principals on the logistics of allowing religious groups the opportunity to leave materials for distribution one day a year."
I'm glad to hear this issue has been resolved, at least for now. I can't imagine what it must have been like for the Pagans - and other minority religions - in that room last night. Clearly things got heated, including one speaker who repeatedly called out Ginger Strivelli by name. This whole issue is one that should be noticed not just by Pagans, but by everyone who has kids in a public school. Because the bottom line is, if just one kid feels unsafe or bullied because of their religious beliefs, then NO kid is really safe at all. And when that bullying comes at the hands of adults, that's a sad state of things indeed.
Props to Angela, Ginger, Byron Ballard, and all the students and supporters who got involved in this, and who took time out of their lives to help make a very important difference.
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