A couple of months ago, Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tennessee held a “Fictional Character Day” in which students could come to school dressed as their favorite fictional character. Like the Mad Hatter. Or Darth Vader. Or SpongeBob SquarePants.
Jeff Shott came dressed as Jesus.
Before class even started that day, Shott was asked by the principal and other staffers to remove his costume. It was inappropriate, they said.
That’s sort of the default excuse the courts have given to schools, isn’t it? You want to do something remotely controversial? Nah. Sit down and shut up so you don’t disrupt anything. Or, in other words:
Here is part of what Jeff had to say about this in his own words:
I’d arrived at school this Monday before 8:15 a.m. and waited in the cafeteria until classes started, eating breakfast with friends and adding finishing touches to my Jesus costume.
The head principal, Dr. Farmer, soon came up and asked me to come to his office. The assistant principal, Ms. Lamb, and Officer Pewit, school resource officer, were waiting outside the cafeteria. Dr. Farmer asked me whom I was portraying. I told him that I was Jesus Christ. He said he had been hoping my answer would have been Zeus (or some other variation of a mythological deity).
Even though I’m typically very openly atheistic and have no problem discussing my views, I was a little distraught that all three school authority figures were addressing me at once. Dr. Farmer claimed I couldn’t have things both ways — I couldn’t complain about teachers talking about Jesus and also dress up as Jesus on Fictional Character Day.
Apparently one of Jeff’s “science teachers” is a creationist and had expressed as much, undermining the theory and fact of evolution with typical creationist tripe. Now it looks like the administration at Jeff’s school understands the constitution about as well as its teachers understand science. The fact is, whether or not dressing as Jesus is allowed on school grounds, Jeff’s teacher was promoting Christian creationism in the classroom, something which has long been established as illegal. It doesn’t matter if Jeff has a problem with that and he wants to wear a funny costume. Indeed, what a teacher tells her students and what a student wears as a costume are independent situations.
Anyway, Jeff has been given a $1,000 scholarship from the Freedom From Religion Foundation because of all this, so the end result isn’t so awful. And even better? I guarantee more students have been talking about him at school than ever would have if he wore his costume for the whole day.