So I am to understand that the JWs in that area, the elders or some parents, approached the school and asked them to ban hot cross buns or did the school administration decide in light of the current politically correct mode that some schools are exhibiting.
In one area of the US, the flag salute was suspended for a time because of the school's administration concern about the feelings of JWs and other people who do not salute the flag. But the school administration was not approached by any JWs asking them to stop the flag salute. Rather, JWs do ask to be excused from saluting but do not interfere with other people's right to do so.
As to the quote from the JW, it seems he was merely confirming that JWs find that hot cross buns are not compatible to Christian worship, not that they were preventing others from buying or eating them.
*** w74 1/15 p. 62 Questions from Readers ***
While not discouraging others from saluting the flag of any nation, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses feel that they can give such worship only to Jehovah God. 'under God' In Pledge Ruled Unconstitutional
The 9th U.s. Circuit Court Of Appeals Says "under God" Phrase Endorses Religion.
Wisconsin State Journal :: FRONT :: A1
Thursday, June 27, 2002
Doug Erickson Education reporter
In a ruling reminiscent of a wrenching debate in Madison last fall, a federal appeals court declared that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because the phrase "one nation under God" violates the separation of church and state.
Wednesday's ruling, if allowed to stand, means schoolchildren can no longer be led in group recitations of the pledge, at least not in the nine Western states covered by the court.
Wisconsin is not one of those nine states and is not directly affected by the decision. But the issues it raises have been fiercely argued since last fall, when the state Legislature began requiring schools to offer either the pledge or the national anthem daily in grades one through 12.
The Madison School Board in October attempted to prohibit use of the pledge as a way to comply with the law, sparking a colossal backlash that reverberated nationally.
Wednesday, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, R-Waukesha, who pushed for the state patriotism law, said he was stunned by the ruling. But the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which contributed legal research to the plaintiff in Wednesday's ruling, was thrilled.
"We've been waiting since 1954 for a decision like this. It's about time," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, a foundation spokeswoman.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the "under God" phrase amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which requires a separation of church and state.
"A profession that we are a nation under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation under Jesus,' a nation under Vishnu,' a nation under Zeus,' or a nation under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Alfred Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.
The government had argued that the religious content of "one nation under God" is minimal.
But the appeals court said that an atheist or a holder of certain non-Judeo-Christian beliefs could see it as an endorsement of monotheism.
The 9th Circuit covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state. Those are the only states directly affected by the ruling.
However, the ruling does not take effect for several months, to allow further appeals. The government can ask the court to reconsider, or take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
One UW-Madison legal expert said Wednesday she doubts the ruling will be around long. The 9th Circuit has a reputation for liberal opinions that push the legal envelope and end up being overturned by the more-conservative U.S. Supreme Court, said professor Ann Althouse, who teaches courses on constitutional law, with a focus on religion clauses.
"I don't think this is going to go anywhere," she said.
In the early 1990s, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which governs Wisconsin, ruled that the pledge is constitutional, Althouse said. The court said at the time that the "under God" phrase was too minimal to violate the Establishment Clause and that general references to a generic God in public life are acceptable, she said.
The 9th Circuit case was brought by Michael Newdow, a Sacramento atheist who objected because his second-grade daughter was required to recite the pledge at the Elk Grove School District. A federal judge had dismissed his lawsuit.
"I'm an American citizen. I don't like my rights infringed upon by my government," he said in an interview. Newdow called the pledge a "religious idea that certain people don't agree with."
The appeals court said that when President Dwight Eisenhower signed the legislation inserting "under God" after the words "one nation," he wrote that "millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty."
The court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has said students cannot hold religious invocations at graduations and cannot be compelled to recite the pledge. But when the pledge is recited in a classroom, a student who objects is confronted with an "unacceptable choice between participating and protesting," the appeals court said.
"Although students cannot be forced to participate in recitation of the pledge, the school district is nonetheless conveying a message of state endorsement of a religious belief when it requires public school teachers to recite, and lead the recitation of, the current form of the pledge," the court said.
Jeff Henriques, a parent of two Madison School District students, said the court's ruling "sort of restores some of my faith in our government and judicial system, because the majority just really doesn't understand what the experience is like for those of us in the minority who object to those words."
He and his wife were among people who complained to the Madison School Board last fall about the state law, objecting to the "under God" phrase and to the idea of forced patriotism.
School Board member Bill Keys authored the original motion that prohibited schools from using the pledge as a way to fulfill the law. The decision made national news and unleashed a barrage of criticism, including 22,000 e-mails to the district. A week later, at an almost 10-hour meeting attended by 1,200 people, the board reversed its decision 6-1.
Keys, now board president, stuck to his position and later withstood a recall effort. He was on vacation Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
Gaylor, of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said the ruling "vindicates Bill Keys and all of his supporters."
Board member Carol Carstensen, who initially sided with Keys but later reversed her vote, said the ruling "is support for the fact that the issues we were concerned about are significant."
Henriques said his sixth-grade son remained seated when the pledge was said in his classroom. His third-grade son stood but didn't utter the words "under God."
"To have a court support our viewpoint is tremendously reassuring and gratifying," he said.
Assembly Speaker Jensen released this statement: "I'm stunned that a court would consider a volunteer pledge to be unconstitutional. I hope that the Supreme Court will stand up for the civic foundations of our democracy."
He encouraged people to continue to recite the pledge at school and civic functions as the July 4th holiday approaches.
\ Reaction to pledge ruling
* "The decision is directly contrary to two centuries of American tradition. ... The Justice Department believes in the right of Americans to pledge allegiance to their flag and is evaluating the appropriate response." -- Attorney General John Ashcroft.
* "Obviously, the liberal court in San Francisco has gotten this one wrong. Of course, we are one nation, under God. ... I strongly believe that parents, teachers and local schools should encourage children to recite the pledge to start the day, the same way those of us in Congress begin our daily business, not allow a liberal judge to take it away." -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
* "I am confident the Supreme Court will reverse this errant ruling." -- Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.
* "Judge Goodwin must have landed here from another planet. This ruling, if it wasn't so serious, it would be laughable. Our country was founded by people of many different religious backgrounds." -- Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill.
* "The Pledge of Allegiance represents our values and principles. I disagree with this ruling, which is a misreading of the Constitution. In our legal system, other courts review decisions like this. I hope and expect this ruling will be overturned." -- Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill.