This business of “separation of church and state” must be really hard for some people to grasp. Talking Points Memo reports that a Michigan public school district posted a job listing calling for a superintendent with “a strong Christian background and philosophy,” and the posting remained up until the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in on Tuesday.
The listing was posted by the McBain Rural Agricultural School in McBain, Michigan, and has been up since mid-February. According to the listing, someone with “a strong Christian background and philosophy” was a “selection criteria.”
On Tuesday, The ACLU got wind and put a stop to it. In a letter to the district and two consultants with the Michigan Leadership Institute, a group that provides superintendent search services, the ALCU said that the Constitution “wisely requires public schools to remain neutral in matters of religion.”
There is no principle more fundamental to American public education than the requirement that schools be welcoming of all students, employees and administrators regardless of religious or ethnic background. Our Constitution wisely requires public schools to remain neutral in matters of religion. When a school favors one religion over another, or religion over non-religion, students and teachers who do not subscribe to the favored religion are made to feel like they do not belong.
The letter goes on to say:
Even if it was a mistake, however, we are distressed by how many administrators and staff must have read the job announcement without thinking it was wrong or demanding that it be changed. Moreover, we wonder how many excellent candidates who are Muslim, Jewish or not religious read the job description and decided not to apply because they believed they were not wanted.
The consultants took responsibility; they apologized and said it reflected “poor judgment.” The reference to religion has since been removed as of Tuesday.