Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Unify and conquer," June 14, 2008

Busted cap

Biofuels are contributing to a global food crisis. The earth has cooled substantially over the past 16 months. And government-imposed carbon caps are failing throughout Europe. Nevertheless, earnest debate over a cap-and-trade climate bill kicked off in the Senate last week. Leading Democrats contend the legislation is of utmost necessity to avoid environmental catastrophe. Republican critics say the proposed solution would cause more harm than the problem, draining the American economy of $6 trillion over the next 40 years.

President George W. Bush likewise has voiced concerns over the bill's economic impact, a line of argument with considerable sway given the country's current state of runaway gas prices and general financial pain. Though much of the nation remains convinced that government caps on emissions are critical to maintain life as we know it, one sizable voting bloc remains unconvinced: evangelicals.

Art restored

A Madison, Wis., student who was penalized for including a John 3:16 reference on an art assignment won a settlement with the school district on May 20. Tomah High School officials had told the student in March to remove or cover up the Scripture reference in his artwork due to a school policy banning depictions of "blood, violence, sexual connotations, [or] religious beliefs." When he didn't comply, he was assigned a "zero" and penalized with disciplinary action.

According to a settlement reached by the Alliance Defense Fund, the district agreed to end its religious expression ban, clean the student's disciplinary record, and fairly grade the assignment. "Christian students shouldn't be penalized for expressing their beliefs, so we're pleased that this settlement will make sure that no longer happens," said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.

State edict

New York Gov. David Paterson told state agencies in a May 14 memo to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in places where they are legal. The order follows a February state appeals court ruling that same-sex marriages conducted legally in other jurisdictions should receive recognition in New York. The Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit June 3 to stop the state from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Line in the sand

School principal quits his job over same-sex club

By Kristin Chapman

A Columbia, S.C., high-school principal garnered national attention last month after announcing he would resign due to the formation of a gay club at his school.

Just days after receiving a May 14 email directing him to allow the creation of a student-initiated Gay-Straight Alliance Club, Irmo High School Principal Eddie Walker submitted his resignation to the Lexington-Richland School District 5 school board. "My decision to resign is a personal choice based on my professional beliefs and religious convictions," he wrote. "I have prayed about the decision for a period of time and I have a peace about it. I would ask that you respect my choice as I respect your choice to disagree with me on this issue."

According to Walker's resignation letter, he objected to a club based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, and sexual activity, citing the school's abstinence-based sex-education curriculum. District officials, however, said that the school has little choice in allowing the new club, arguing that because the school permits non-academic extracurricular clubs, it must uphold the federal Equal Access Act. The 1984 act, which Congress passed to assist religious groups that wanted to meet on school campuses, prohibits schools from discriminating against a student club based on the club's viewpoint.

"We understand the concerns of the community and Principal Walker, but we also fully recognize what the law says and we are bound to abide by the law," district spokesperson Buddy Price told WORLD. "Our challenge is to find a solution that is most acceptable by the community."

During its May 27 meeting, the school board began seeking that solution by reviewing the district's policies for school clubs. Price said the board is gathering input from the community and plans to review the feedback at the next meeting on June 9. At that time, the board may make a decision about the district's relationship with student-sponsored non-academic clubs.

For now, Walker is wrapping up his fourth year at Irmo High School. Citing his contractual commitment to return for the 2008-2009 school year, his resignation won't take effect until June 30, 2009. Prior to the May 27 school board meeting Walker had indicated he would talk with WORLD about his resignation, but afterward he declined an interview: "I don't plan to comment at this time as I do not want this issue to continue to be a distraction for our students."

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