Religion In Schools by Alice Cleveland Shiver (Jan/Feb 1998)

The State of the World’s Religions: There are about 1.06 billion Roman Catholics, 1.03 billion Muslims, 764 million Hindus, 391 million Protestants, 339 million Buddhists and 13.5 million Jews. Parade Magazine, August 4, 1996, page 9.

On a recent visit, I stopped by the school

To see if the children still kept the Golden Rule.

I must admit I was an unexpected guest.

Yet, my sojourn was an innocent quest.

I wasn’t prepared for the chaos in the hall.

The students were having a religious ball.

The principal led with a grin on his face.

Teachers, like robots, marched in place.

I watched in shock the parading rabble,

Tried to comprehend the rising babble.

A Catholic knelt at a cross flanked with palms.

A Protestant read from the Twenty-third Psalm.

A buddhist prepared for a lotus feast.

A Muslim spread his rug and prayed to the East.

A peyotist smoked his ritual pipe.

A Pagan yelled, “What’s all this hype?”

A Hindu girl led in her sacred cow.

A Shinto boy waved a sakaki bough.

A Jew built a fire to roast his goat.

A Santerian slit his chicken’s throat.

A Wiccan stirred her bubbly in a pot.

A frog jumped out, croaked, “Hell that’s hot!”

The floor with leaves, dung, and blood were splattered.

But, they had religious freedom; that’s all that mattered.

So impeach Judge DeMent for his liberal gall.

Schools are a haven of religious free-for-alls.

Alice Cleveland Shiver — November 22, 1997

This poem was read at the press conference held by the Alabama Freethought Association on the steps of the Montgomery capitol when placing its freethought sign to protest a manger scene left on public property (see story page 3).

The religionists held a rally there against Judge DeMent, who issued a ruling and firm guidelines last year to stop religious worship in Alabama schools.

Freedom From Religion Foundation