Shai Warfield-Cross sings the national anthem

This sounds like a fine version of The Star-Spangled Banner to me. The singer, a 16 year old Indiana high school student, has her own stamp on it, but that her style is unique can hardly be called offensive.

Unless you’re an idiot.

Principal Jeff Henderson told The Herald-Times in a statement that people had complained that while the words to the anthem were the same, the tune was unrecognizable. He declined to comment to The Associated Press.

Some who complained after the game in Martinsville – a predominantly white community about 30 miles southwest of Indianapolis – also said they felt the rendition was disrespectful to current and former members of the military, Henderson said.

I have no idea how Warfield-Cross’ rendition can possibly be considered offensive. It is certainly within the realm of traditional versions when one considers all the different renditions that are out there. Besides that, so what if it isn’t traditional? Uniqueness does not make something bad. If anything, I would rather hear a version like Warfield-Cross’ before a sporting event than some of the other versions I’ve heard – and I’m talking about some extremely well done versions I’ve heard at major sporting venues such as Fenway.

As for the race issue, I’m not willing to buy it. Maybe that was the motivation, but no news story has identified the chief whiner in all this. Surely that person has some illegitimate reason for the complaint, but it isn’t clear that race is at the heart of it.

And as for the school, an apology was issued.

The formal apology by Principal Jeff Henderson was made public Thursday after a nearly two-hour meeting with student Shai Warfield-Cross, 16, her family and other supporters.

Maybe next time the school and Jeff Henderson will know to stand up to the whiners out there.

Jesus Christ, Jack

In taking his break from getting his cues from FTSOS, Jack Hudson has ventured, once again, into a land he does not understand.

In recent years there has been an increasing antagonism to public displays of religious faith. Whether it concerns the those national symbols which historically refer to our inherited religious beliefs as in the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem, or whether dealing with more explicit religious expressions, as in prayers offered at public events, the opposition to such expressions has grown if not in numbers, certainly in volume.

As every person with any bit of knowledge of history knows, pledge references to God were added in 1954. They have nothing to do with any historical references (not that that would necessarily even matter), but were instead a reflection of a growing paranoia over Communism and a misunderstanding of what atheism actually is. (Pss, it’s about the moral equivalent of not collecting stamps as a hobby – and just as dangerous.) Moving beyond the crackpot claim that one can somehow “inherit” religious beliefs, it’s unclear what sort of antagonism the Star-Spangled Banner has faced in recent times. The last thing I can recall dates a couple of years back when a few people decided to come up with a Spanish rendition, enraging a bunch of Fox Noise employees rednecks.

In the recent past such conflicts usually occurred as the result of what was perceived to be the direct imposition of religious belief on unwilling participants by the state via of the Federal or state government agencies. For this reason the Establishment Clause, that portion of the 1st Amendment which is understood to prevent the government from becoming excessively entangled in religious matters, is understood to be violated when publicly funded educational institutions express in any manner religious sentiments via a state agent like a teacher or curriculum.

Wtf. No. That clause prevents the government from endorsing and/or giving preference to particular religions. Given the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that atheism is due the same protections (and restrictions) as religion, it is a violation of the First Amendment when any religion is given favor. In other words, not only is the First Amendment not to be construed in the narrow way Jack would prefer, but it has recently been expanded in a definitive direction.

Jack then goes on to cite an instance where a senior citizen center has stopped offering public prayers before meals. The reason has to do with the partial federal funding the center receives for many of the meals it provides. It isn’t at all surprising that a number of people interpret the lack of public prayer as someone telling them to not pray at all. I mean, god damn it. That’s just stupid. No one is saying “SHUT THE FUCK UP! EVERYONE STOP PRAYING!” No. They’re saying, “We aren’t going to lead any prayer as an organization because we may be acting as too much of an extension of the federal government.” It’s unclear just how the legal situation will shake out in this instance, but the position really isn’t unreasonable. But does that stop Jack? Heck no!

…collectively the state acts mindlessly in accordance with the rules and regulations it is given, not in accordance with cultural realities, or traditions, or personal sensitivities. The state is no respecter of individuals, and it’s activities reduce every situation down to the lowest common denominator – in the case of religious liberty, this lowest denominator is always state imposed secularism.

Ah, the ol’ “We’re a Christian nation!” line of thought. It doesn’t matter. The U.S. is set up to be secular and not endorse any religion. It only imposes neutrality (something to which it does not adhere nearly enough). Now, if there was a National Day of Godlessness, it absolutely would be imposing secularism, but the fact that the government says “Pray on your own dime” does not somehow mean “SHUT THE FUCK UP! EVERYONE STOP PRAYING!”

As the state intrudes itself financially into virtually every aspect of our lives – our education, our medical needs, taking care of us in our retirement, etc – it gains the power (or claims to) to dictate to us the manner and degree of expression of our respective faiths. Whether it is limiting personal prayers shared between individuals, or, as in the example above, corporate prayers shared at a meal, the growth of government as our caretaker inevitably entails the imposition of secular restrictions on our lives.

Nope. Dead wrong, you mook. The government will not pay for you to pray. It will not pay to have others encourage you to pray. It is not an extension of your church (I mean, how could it be? It’s actually honest about wanting your money for its own personal use). Oh, and that article Jack cites? It is about a college student and professor who prayed together. Gasp! you proclaim! Why, it must have ended in the limitation of “personal prayers shared between individuals”, you declare! Why else would Jack have cited it?!

In the settlement, announced this week, the four-campus Peralta Community College District recognized the right to “non-disruptively pray on campus.” The district also agreed to remove all records of disciplinary action against the students and pay their attorneys’ fees, said Kevin Snider, a lawyer with the Pacific Justice Institute, which represented the students.

Students still won’t be allowed to lead organized prayers in class, but can pray in other campus locations “to the same extent that they may engage in any other free speech,” Snider said.

“This was a case of voluntary prayer between consenting adults,” the attorney said.

Oh, that’s right. Creationists will always lie for Jesus.