September 2002 Issue #90
Montgomery County Group Demands Removal of Sex Education Books
Some self-described Christians are trying to dictate what books can and cannot be in Montgomery County’s public libraries. At a meeting of the county’s Commissioners Court on Aug. 26, they demanded that a sexuality education book be removed from the county’s public libraries because it is obscene, in part because it supposedly promotes homosexuality and abortion.
The protesters are the same group that convinced the county commissioners to filter adults’ Internet access in public libraries. They said the Republican Leadership Council alerted them about the book. That Montgomery County group encourages “godly men to seek office.” It wants to take over the county’s Republican Party but it failed in its attempt to unseat the county GOP’s long-time chair last spring.
The book, It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health, has been highly praised and frequently challenged in this country. Its author said it has sold over 650,000 copies in 20 languages since its 1994 publication. Montgomery County libraries have four copies. Of its 89 pages, three discuss homosexuality, including the scientific debate over why some people are homosexuals and the disapproval of homosexuals by some people, and two discuss laws and legal rulings regarding abortion. It also has sections on masturbation, abstinence, and birth control.
County Judge Barb Sadler and commissioners agreed that the book should be removed immediately. Sadler said the commissioners will also look at national review boards used by the county library to recommend books for purchase and will consider withdrawing from the American Library Association because it is “too liberal.”
Sadler and County Library Director Jerilynn Williams announced later that the county will follow its established review process, by which Williams will decide if the book should be banned after a panel of county librarians reviews it and makes a recommendation. Williams’ decision can be appealed to the county’s Library Advisory Board.
At the next Commissioners Court meeting on Sept. 9, the group denounced another sexuality education book because it mentions homosexuality without condemning it. They threatened to defeat any commissioner who does not acquiesce to their demands to fire Williams, drop membership in the American Library Association, and stack the library review board with evangelicals. Sadler assured the group they can count on changes being made.
Montgomery County residents opposed to censorship are organizing to appeal to the commissioners to honor the First Amendment. If you would like to join this effort, contact Let Freedom Ring.
Beaumont School Clergy
Counseling Program Unconstitutional
On August 29, a U.S. district judge rendered a decision holding that Beaumont I.S.D. violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution through its “Clergy In Schools” program. The program, created in 1996, placed clergy volunteers in schools to counsel and mentor students on secular topics. The judge found that BISD conveyed the message that clergy are “uniquely qualified” to counsel & mentor students, impermissibly endorsing and advancing religion. The opinion, Oxford et al v. Beaumont Independent School District, can be accessed at txed.uscourts.gov
In 1997, a different district court judge had ruled in favor of the district without a trial. A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed that ruling and held the program unconstitutional in 1999 but last year, the entire appellate court ordered the district court to conduct further proceedings to develop certain fact issues. The latest decision was issued after a trial. BISD could appeal it to the Fifth Circuit.
Religious Right Express Solidarity With Israel
Gary Bauer, religious right leader and former presidential candidate, personally delivered to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a letter of support signed by 27 Christian leaders. Christian radio talk show host Janet Parshall, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson of Focus on the Family were among those who signed the letter. "The letter had an electrifying impact," Bauer said. "The meeting with Sharon was only supposed to be a brief meeting. It turned into an hour meeting. He brought in members of his cabinet into the room to show them the letter."
The Christian Coalition is sponsoring a Christian Solidarity for Israel Rally in Washington, D.C. on October 11 during its annual Road to Victory conference. The Coalition calls on 100,000 “Christian friends of Israel” to assemble to raise voices in unison for “no negotiations with terrorists (i.e., Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority), the U.S. must let Israel fight its war on terrorism the way we fought ours in Afghanistan, move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem now, the City of David must remain the undivided capital of a united Jewish State, no territorial compromises that endanger Israel’s security, no dismantling of Jewish communities in Biblical Israel – a.k.a. Judea and Samaria, a.k.a. The West Bank and Gaza, and no to a Palestinian state.”
Bush Administration to Pursue
Faith-Based Policy Without Congress
The Bush administration is moving forward to implement the President’s "faith-based" plan even though Congress has not passed the legislation he desires. Five Cabinet agencies have started writing rules that would loosen current restrictions on funding of religious social service providers. Some of the proposals would not require recipients to separate religious and secular programs and would allow them to make employment decisions based on religion.
The administration also plans to hold seminars around the country over the next seven months to teach more than 5,000 religious groups how to use current law to win federally funded contracts. The White House has a goal of attracting at least 1,000 organizations to each of the seminars.
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