Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the earliest proselytizers of secular humanism (defined as a religion by the Supreme Court) and a founder of the philosophical beliefs of transcendentalism. He was essentially a pantheist who saw all of nature as part of God. He summarized transcendentalism saying, “From the earth, as a shore, I look out into that silent sea. I seem to partake its rapid transformations: the active enchantment reaches my dust, and I dilate and conspire with the morning wind.” So for Emerson the sea, the wind, the dust, and I are all one and all "sacred" ultimately determined by my own "[sacred] mind." But should a public school that bans quotes from Jesus and the saints not practice the same restraint with new age "saints." The reader who shared this letter and photo thinks so. Do you agree?
September 2, 2012
Principal Teresa Johnson
Chantilly High School
4201 Stringfellow Road
Chantilly VA 20151
Dear Principal Johnson,
Driving past Chantilly High School recently, I was deeply shocked and offended by what I read on the marquee.
The word “sacred” is a religious term for that which is holy, or associated with the divine.
1. devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.
2. entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.
3. pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to secular or profane): sacred music; sacred books.
Believe it or not, there are some “extremists” out there who believe that God alone is holy, that that which is sacred is “set apart” (Latin: sanctum) and consecrated to Him.
I humbly count myself among them.
It is entirely inappropriate for a government-run public school to take a prominent public position proclaiming that only you are holy or sacred, in the “integrity” of your mind. That is a direct assault on those who hold other religious views, and openly disparages their views. Given the religious nature of Emerson’s “transcendentalism”, it is in fact advocating an “establishment of religion”, prohibited by the Constitution.
It flagrantly violates Fairfax County School Board Policy 1460.2:
Fairfax County Public Schools, as an agency of the government, shall be neutral with respect to religious beliefs and also shall not engage in any activity that either disparages or advocates religion.
The only potential counterarguments are (1) it doesn’t mean it, (2) we don’t mean it, or (3) we didn’t do it:
1. “Sacred” is meant in a secular context. The structure of the statement clearly is framed to exclude any other meaning: Nothing else is sacred.
2. We don’t necessarily agree with the statement; we are just citing it. Then try in the coming weeks posting declarations from the Bible (“I AM the Lord thy God. Thou shall have no other gods before Me”) or the Koran (“rocks and trees will say: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!”), and how far do you expect the “not necessarily the views of the school system” argument would go.
3. The students put it there. If the students posted either of the above quotes, that wouldn’t relieve the school from responsibility for the posting.
I demand that this offensive marquee statement be removed, and an apology issued to the community for this blatant attempt at government brainwashing with a new age humanist religion.
Fairfax County School Board
8115 Gatehouse Road, Suite 5400
Falls Church, VA 22042
Springfield District Representative