“Paging Mr. Taj Mahal”

In the ’90s once I was connecting through Denver’s then-Stapleton International Airport. During both ends of the round trip I spent quite a while cooling my heels there, so long in fact that for years afterward I could recite their First Amendment p.a. message from memory!

What I still remember though was at one point somebody used the automated p.a. paging system many, many times to page “Mr. Taj Mahal” — pronouncing Mahal “MAY-hall” (like racer Bobby Rahal*).  With the mispronunciation(?) it took a few times to seep into my conscious brain and make me realize, OH! That’s a prank!  Ha ha, very funny, right up there with “Amanda Hugginkiss” and all those other Bart Simpson pranks.  As a HUGE fan of The Blues Brothers, and a very minor fan of blues in general, I should’ve remembered maybe it wasn’t a prank after all!

Congrats, sir, and Many Years.

(*–Hey, Rahal’s Lebanese-American.  Is he Orthodox?!!)

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Religious Establishment conundra II

What if we funded ALL primary and secondary schools, those of all religions and none?  Then it wouldn’t be “an establishment of religion,” just universal funding of education.  Might not even need a Constitutional Amendment!

I would imagine schools would retain their existing governance structures, just requiring public fiscal accountability, ‘strongly encouraging’ economies-of-scale, and retaining a minimum of educational expectations like now for reading, math, science, etc.

This might result in a reduction in, though not elimination of, the need for non-elitist, nonsectarian schools, ie, the remnants of today’s “public” schools, governed by the same local Boards of Education or whatever.  But then, ALL schools would be public schools, so to speak!

I also don’t envision parsing the money so it doesn’t pay for religion-class-hours, chapels, etc., as sometimes happens now with nonsectarian aid to sectarian schools.  Most of that is driven by the (mistaken) Constitutional issue anyway.  Education is for educators and parents to decide, broadly speaking.

Could we bar aid to White Supremacist schools?  Muslim-Fundamentalist Madrasas?  Schools that teach against “race-mixing”?  “Afri-centric” schools?  Gay-affirming schools?  Atheist schools?  Polytheist schools?  Satanist schools?  Conspiracy-theory schools?  Legal, constitutional ways might be found to approach such questions rationally….

One thing this might do is spread “the most segregated hour of the week” – Sunday morning – to Monday-through-Friday, 8-to-3.  Then again, forming children really is a religious / moral / ethical task, is it not?  ALL education is religious in one way or another, even ostensibly non-religious education.  And national surveys say although Catholic parochial school alumni/ae have attended rather White schools (in this country), at-large they turn out among the most progressive, tolerant adults in America … so that way may lie hope after all!

And just as now, all these “public” schools should certainly be free to raise additional funds on their own voluntarily.

IOTM that all the non-public-school-aid Supreme Court cases I’ve ever heard of involved a single denomination or at most two at a time, namely America’s (despised) Catholics and Jews.  Has any State or school district or city ever proposed to fund ALL primary and secondary ed. in its borders???

All this education is being paid for already.  My proposal would merely spread the burden over the entire society that benefits – the whole country or State – and at the same time solve the old School Choice conundrum, the religion-in-school conundrum, the at-the-same-time-great-and-miniscule-expectations-of-public-schools paradox, maybe even much of the youth-sex-and-violence problem and the Melting Pot ideal (though this last indirectly, as I said above) … with all their unnecessary costs to everyone….

Of course, funded schools would have to be nonpartisan and not involve themselves in campaigns for or against candidates.

A way out of Religious Establishment conundra?

Back in 1989 someone suggested the following:

Nor does the Constitution seek to create a secular public sphere. Religious pluralism and diversity — not secularism — are the animating principles of the First Amendment. [Emphasis Tiernan’s.]

The article provides a piercing analysis of conflicts over the First Amendment’s clause, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”  Are we ‘excessively entangled’ in “excessive entanglement” concerns?!  I’m not 100 pct. certain about this approach, but I think it raises necessary questions.