Mention God and go to jail, judge warns
by P. Laye Wright
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3, 2011 — U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Blaugh Kedd ruled Thursday that students and administrators may not mention God or prayer at public school graduation ceremonies.
"Any person who uses any religious word or term will be incarcerated," Kedd said in a ruling that affirmed a lower court ruling. "This applies to all public schools in the U.S., not just schools in Texas."
The judge expanded Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery's order that banned students and administrators from uttering the terms "prayer," "amen," "benediction" and "invocation."
"Any word or term that has been derived from any religious belief or practice is hereby prohibited," Kedd wrote. "This includes the names of individuals who receive diplomas. All Biblical names shall be replaced by initials in documents as well as in verbal communication."
Texas Board of Education Director Kent Reed said administrators are poring over records to determine which names are prohibited.
"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will be replaced by initials as well as Christian, Kristi, Christy, Chris, Kris, Kristie, Cristee, Christey, Christiana, Christina, Kristina, Tina, and Hispanic names such as Jesus, Maria and Angel."
Reed released a list of 2,355 names that his office so far has determined to be unacceptable. It included names such as Aaron, Adam, Peter, Joe, Chloe, Deborah and Catharine.
Jordan Rivers, the chief etymologist for the California Department of Political Correctness, said most schools will be renamed to avoid offending atheists.
"We have a big problem in our state," he said, "because many places were named by people who had no regard for the feelings of unbelievers. Los Angeles means The Angels, San Francisco means Saint Francis, and Sacramento comes from the sacrament. We'll have to rename half the towns in California."
National Collegiate Athletic Association President Erin D. Ball said many member schools will be renamed, and others will change their mascots.
"We've been renaming mascots for years to avoid terms that are offensive to native Americans," she said. "and so it should be pretty easy to find names that are not offensive to atheists."
She said offending schools already have called to submit new names for approval, including Texas Cooperative University for TCU and Southern Matriculation University for SMU. She said some schools must change both the names of their schools and their mascots, including the Providence Friars and the Holy Cross Crusaders.
Noah Tall, who heads a non-profit association of public teachers, the Public Indoctrination Group, said PIG members are committed to teaching students to avoid all offensive words.
"We won't use any words unless they're in the new approved Collegiate Tolerance Dictionary that was published in April by the National Atheistic Society for Troubled Youth," he said.
NASTY President Hal A. Lugia said he was overjoyed to hear that the dictionary will be the standard reference for approved language.
"People really need to think about how the things they say are hurtful to atheists," he said. "I grate my teeth every time I hear an athlete credit the Lord or hear somebody ask for prayers in a sick person's behalf. Nothing would make me happier than to see insensitive people like that spend some time in jail."
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