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In an address to an audience of over 650 people at First Baptist Church in Jackson, MS, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ardently defended religious belief and exhorted Christians to ignore the scorn of the "worldly wise." Scalia, a Roman Catholic, said, "We must pray for the courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world." In his legal opinions, Scalia favors lowering the wall of separation between church and state, and he supports clergy-led prayer at public school graduations.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Massachusetts parents who objected to a required AIDS-awareness assembly given at their children's school. In 1992, Chelmsford (MA) High School hired Hot, Sexy, and Safer Productions to give an AIDS talk that, as school officials later admitted, went too far. The Rutherford Institute represented the parents, who sued the company and the district for interfering with their free exercise of religion and parental rights. Both the federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the parents. The appeals court said that parents have no right to "dictate individually what the schools teach their children."
School districts are increasingly mandating community service as a graduation requirement as well as defining what counts as "community service." The Institute for Justice, on behalf of 15-year-old John Reinhard III of North Carolina, argues that charitable service should be left up to an individual and his conscience rather than mandated by the government. 15% of 130 of the nation's largest school districts have districtwide service requirements.
Correction: Last month's issue of Education Reporter contained a list of the Missouri State Legislators who signed a letter opposing the CAREERS Act. Those who did sign the letter but whose names were mistakenly not included are Rep. David Broach and Rep. Bill Marshall. Rep. Marilyn Edwards did not sign the letter.