Feb 23, 2007

bless us in this hour of trial

It's another workplace anointing, but this time, it's at a school, and to bless the outcomes of a standardized test.
Officials with the school district say they are not investigating, because monitoring employees' religious behavior isn't their only responsibility.

"We also can't discriminate against folks who want to practice or live within their religious practice, as long as it's not disruptive," said Hernando County school district attorney J. Paul Carland.

The principal, Mary LeDoux, reported it had been a difficult day with high levels of misbehavior, and the state's standardized assessment test was scheduled to be administered the following week.

She told the newspaper she found nothing wrong with what she and "four or five" colleagues did: they went from classroom to classroom, praying and blessing the students' desks with oil.

It happened late in the evening on Friday, Feb. 2, after the school was closed for the weekend.

"It was staff members on their own time who said, 'Do you mind if we say some prayers for the kids on the Friday night before FCAT, so the kids would do well?'" LeDoux told the Times.

An American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman said the actions crossed the line, because Christians were imposing their beliefs on others by leaving prayer oil on the desks for others to see.
Quick! Someone snatch some grant funding for a study!

[link via Ed Brayton]


Aaron said...

The various spices in the oil, myyrh, rosemary, etc, undoubtedly arouse and invigorate the mind, good for an early morning pick me up. The oily desk force cleaning, which means a little activity and elbow sweat to get the blood flowing. Olive oil is full of calories and nutrition, especially fats, which is good for the brain and so if accidentally inhaled it fuels the body. I don't know why this isn't standard procedure, even without the holy element!

Jim Anderson said...

But there's always risk: a student could gouge her eye out with a pencil when her elbow slips. There may be unacceptable levels of arsenic or mercury if the oil is not properly monitored. We have enough of an obesity epidemic, never mind fat inhalation. Plus, there's always the prospect of angering other deities. Risk!

Aaron said...

This is a classic case of weighing benefits. Hopefully, the test can serve as a catalyst of natural selection- those students too inept to wash their desks, or eat healthy, probably won't pass the standardized test. Therefore, pencil accidents and the like weed out those who bring down the school's averages, while offering benefits to the fitter students. And as Exodus points out, proper anointing oil contains 500 shekels of myrrh, half as much of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia, and a hin of olive oil. And while this recipe appears to yield more of a sludge then an oil, I still don't see mercury or arsenic. Furthermore, if we bring up these substances the FDA is likely to get involved, and I know that my principal knows better how to use anointing oil with me then the federal government!

Laurel said...

I don't get it. Why do we live in a world where this has to be a big deal? There are so many religions in the world today that we have to learn to coexist. Just because someone puts holy oil on one's desk doesn't mean that one has to belive in it. My best friends are a pagan, an athiest, a Jew, a Quaker, and a Mormon. I'm a Protestant of no particular denominational loyalty. If such a diverse group can become very close, live, work and suffer together, and have a great deal of mutual affection and respect, no one else has an excuse not be accepting of religions other than their own.

Jim Anderson said...

laurel, you draw a line somewhere though, right? What if one of your friends tried to anoint you with oil? Would you have to just put up with it?

Or, consider the scenario Ed Brayton mentioned: in some religions, animal sacrifice would be the way to go. What if the practitioners had doused desks in chicken blood?

Aaron said...

Don't be silly Mr. Anderson chicken blood has salmonella, people can't smear that on others without food handler's permits.
Plus, teachers get angry for at me for drawing on desks. And given my religious proclivity for sacrificing animals, would I get in trouble for offering a ram?

Jim Anderson said...

Chicken raised on factory farms may have salmonella, but chicken raised as God intended is pure and wholesome, especially when fried.