The Atheist Left Coast

An Orange County, CA counselor with eighteen years of experience with foster children was suspended from her job for six (6) weeks because she took four teen girls from an Emergency Shelter Home for abused, abandoned, and neglected children, the Orangewood Children’s Home, on a† field trip during the summer of 2006, first to a 5 kilometer run and then to the beach – where the girls overheard Christian music.

Upon returning from the outing, the counselor was ordered into a “disciplinary meeting” that focused on the inappropriateness of Christian music.† There was no punishment imposed immediately, but weeks later after another meeting at which the same subject was reviewed, the counselor was suspended six weeks for “exposing children to unapproved religious activities.”

The counselor, after exhausting California state administrative remedies, has filed a lawsuit against Orange County.

A lawsuit has been filed against Orange County by a veteran group home counselor who was suspended six weeks for exposing four teenagers to Christian music. The counselor is represented by affiliate and staff attorneys of Pacific Justice Institute.

The lawsuit states that, in the summer of 2006, the counselor took four teenage girls from the Orangewood Children’s Home on an approved field trip to a 5K run and then to the beach. At the beach, the group encountered a “Surf Jam” taking place at the Huntington Beach pier. The group also overheard Christian music for about ten minutes while they were eating.

Following the beach outing, the counselor, an eighteen-year employee, was summoned to a disciplinary meeting focusing on the Christian music. Several months later, the same incident was brought up again and the counselor was slapped with a six-week suspension for “exposing children to unapproved religious activities.”

After many months of exhausting state administrative remedies, the counselor filed suit late last week in Orange County Superior Court to recover the financial losses she suffered from the suspension and to vindicate her constitutional rights. The counselor is represented by John and Laurie Messerly Stewart, attorneys in Orange, California, and the Pacific Justice Institute.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “What happened to this counselor was insane and unjust. Allowing teenagers to overhear a few minutes of Christian music while at the beach should not result in a six-week suspension.”

Pacific Justice Institute
Press Release – February 18, 2009

So…A woman who performs an vital service to the community, who most likely is underpaid, under-respected, and forced to work a caseload far above what would be optimal, was suspended because children in her care in a public venue overheard Christian music. How exactly does this make sense outside of the context of an institutionalized anti-theist attack?

Some times you have to wonder how far the secular Left will go in their vicious white-collar jihad against the religions in America. One also has to wonder how long Americans will continue to tolerate it.

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8 Responses to “The Atheist Left Coast”

  1. Mason Says:

    Based on what you’ve said, that seems like a very harsh penalty for something that she didn’t even intentionally expose those children to. At the same time, we don’t have the other side of the story at all. All we have to go on is the woman’s lawsuit, which I’m sure will favor her side of the tale and demonize the county.

    Also, to automatically associate being liberal with being atheist is an extreme generalization that, if you look at statistics, has no basis in reality. Yes, people in more liberal states tend to agree that religion is not as important in their everyday lives as people in conservative states such as in the South, but that does not equate to being atheist or having no respect for religion.

    Finally, this is not a jihad and to use such an extreme word really just makes it seem like you’re trying to just rile people up against an entire group of people without really providing any facts. Maybe the counselor preached to the kids more than she admits to doing. Maybe one of the kids’ parents totally blew this out of proportion. Regardless of what happened, it does still make sense in that there is no room for religious indoctrination in a state-run facility such as the Orangewood Children’s Home. That’s not to say that religion is bad, just that it’s not appropriate to be taught there. That’s not jihad, that’s separation of church and state.

  2. jonolan Says:

    True, we don’t have any other point of view this topic. I combed the internet and could find no data refuting the specifics of her claim. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an opposing viewpoint though, just that it’s not published.

    The Liberals (or the Left) may not be all atheists, but can you find a significant information showing that they have sided with religion in the last 25 years or so – except possibly Islam, which they have sided with, but not out of religious sentiment.

    Separation of Church & State is all well and good, but attacks such as this are designed to silence all public expression of religion, not guarantee the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.

    It amounts to a jihad or Crusade launched by anti-theist and fought with attorneys, budget appropriations, and legislation instead of IEDs and suicide vests. It is quite similar to what CAIR engages in consistently – therefor my comparison.

    I certainly don’t mind riling people up against such a thing.

  3. Mason Says:

    Again, you’re equating liberals with being anti-religious. That’s just not the case. To be against the blending of church and state in the public realm does not necessarily mean that liberals themselves are against deism or religion personally. When a presidential candidate, Democrat or Conservative, cannot get elected without speaking to his/her faith in God, and most obviously, needing to be a Christian (hence the big reason that Mitt Romney didn’t make it very far), I’d say that religion plays a large part in almost every single American’s lives, liberal or conservative.

    The right has adopted religion as part of their ideology, but that doesn’t mean that the left can’t or doesn’t also have religious beliefs.

    You miss the whole need for the separation of church and state. It’s not “well and good.” It’s required by the constitution. And it’s there for these specific cases. It’s not saying that this counselor can’t practice her religion, whatever faith it may happen to be. But she cannot preach in a state-run facility. There’s nothing imposing her First Amendment rights whatsoever. She’s still completely free to believe what she wants to believe.

    This is not a holy war. This is keeping America from becoming Iran.

  4. jonolan Says:

    Mason,

    You and I have fundamental differences in our interpretations of the Establishment Clause. You seem to be a “strict-separationist” whereas I am a “non-preferentialist.” That OK; both are common viewpoints, though we’re not going to agree on a number of issues.

    You are, however, equating the freedom to practice one’s religion outside of privacy of one’s home or church as endorsing a theocracy.

    There’s no evidence – as of yet – that the woman preached in a state-run facility, but what if she had? If attendance was purely voluntary, where is the harm to our Constitutional rights? Even the Warren Court with all of their arrogance only held that “it is no part of the official business of government to compose official prayers for any group of American people to recite as part of a religious program carried out by the Government.” in Engel v. Vitale.

    This in fact be may be a holy war. This is keeping America from becoming China or the Soviet Union.

    BTW: Your opinion, while disagreed with, is respected and appreciated. Thanks for the dialog on the various “touchy” subject this blog is filled with.

  5. Mason Says:

    I agree that we do have different viewpoints on the matter. I suppose that I’m taking the (unknown) stance that the counselor did preach and didn’t just happen upon a radio playing Christian music. To be fair, if that’s simply what did happen, then it does seem that it would be a very extreme punishment to receive, if she should’ve even been punished at all.

    The thing is, by being non-preferential, you do need to have a complete separation, as much as possible. Instead of having a Star of David and a Nativity scene in front of a City Hall in order to be fair, just don’t have any religious idolatry at all. I find it very difficult to understand how it’s being non-preferential when Christian symbolism is thrust into the political realm and then defended because we are a “Christian nation.”

    There is no holy war because my stance doesn’t impose on anyone’s beliefs whatsoever, while the idea that it’s right for a manger to be on the steps of a state building could impose on anyone’s beliefs that don’t directly coincide with that of the baby Jesus.

    In order to truly not prefer one belief system over another, one needs to keep all belief systems out of the political/state realm. I know you find that there’s nothing wrong with what this counselor did, but what if she happened upon a radio that happened to be tuned into Al Jazeera? Or they happened upon someone speaking outwardly about homosexual rights? If she hadn’t had any real preaching going on and it was simply accidental in nature, would the same uproar be condoned, or, even recommended?

    (Agreed. Healthy and respectful debate is what I aim for. I appreciate the mutual respect.)

  6. Josh Brandt Says:

    Being from the “south” and being a Christian, I have known Christians all my life. I have rarely encountered atheists in my school life (though I go to a private Christian school so that is not surprising) or my personal life. However, I have family who work in the public school system and a sister who has attended a public school. My sister once tried to open a bible study group at her school and they forbid it. Now at the same school was a group for Buddhists, Muslims, and even satanists (though that is very rare anywhere in a America. San Antonio, where I lived at the time, is known for having some satanic groups). I’ll leave you guys to that one.

    Now Mason,
    This is not a rare case. Cases like this happen all the time and the government and most liberal run institutions (colleges, universities, research companies etc.) specifically attack intelligent design, as a conspiracy to implement creationism into the classroom. This tells me that they are not just trying to protect the separation of church and state, which I whole heartedly support, they are attacking religion. I urge you and everyone else to watch “Expelled” (Ben Stein)

  7. zhann Says:

    I have a feeling that there is a bit more to this story than the original article lets on. My sister works in a similar field as the lady in question, but rather than working with abandoned/neglected she works with disabled/handicapped. Regardless, the policies are very similar. When speaking to her, she regularly complains about the level of christianity that is fed to the children/patients. She is far from anti-christian, she simply follows a different branch than the ones being preached. She sees the fault in this, and so doesn’t attempt to force her views on them as well.

    Of course, she is on the East Coast, but I find it hard to believe that there is such a dramatic difference in policy. Of course, I have been wrong once or twice before, but I think that there is a lot more to this story than is being let on. Lets not forget, we are talking about disturbed children who may do whatever necessary for attention, or to ruin someone they aren’t too fond of.

  8. Mason Says:

    Josh – I really can’t speak to the situation that the one public school you mention. I know that there is a difference between a group that studies a specific religion – such as Buddhism – from a scholarly perspective and a Bible study group. If it were a group that actually practiced Buddhism much like a Bible study group practices Christianity, then yes, there sounds like there was some favoritism going on. Again, I’m not saying that all public schools and secular institutions act fairly all of the time. And while your sister’s group got passed over (perhaps unfairly so), she still has the ability to practice her beliefs at countless other venues outside of school.

    And about intelligent design… I’m sorry but when you use colleges and universities, the very heart of the scholarly and intellectual world, as proof that there’s some conspiracy to put down the Christian belief system, I just can’t respond with a straight face. Sure they’re liberal in the sense that they are searching for knowledge and not following some traditional, unchanging worldview. But that’s their job. That’s why there’s religion and there’s science. Keep intelligent design in the religious realm where it belongs. Again, there’s no attack on religion. Just the desire to keep those that belong in the religious realm where they belong.

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