Ignoring Facts (Again), Fox Misinforms About Religion In Schools (Again)June 3, 2011 10:25 AM EDT ››› MELODY JOHNSON
It must be a slow news day for the Fox News outlets, since Fox Nation has decided to kick up dust on one of their favorite fearmonger-and-freak-out topics: the separation of church and state.
Two separate posts on the topic appeared Friday on Fox News' blog, Fox Nation. One, titled "Judge Bans Religious Words from Graduation Ceremony," focuses on a judge's ruling that a public high school in Texas must exclude planned opening and closing prayers as part of its graduation ceremony. Yet, as Media Matters has already noted, contrary to Fox Nation's claim, "religious words" were not "banned from [the] graduation ceremony" in question. Students will still be permitted to speak about their faith if they so choose during individual speeches. The judge's ruling simply prohibits the public high school graduation ceremony from essentially conducting prayer services or asking people to pray.
The second post, titled "Court: NYC Schools Can Ban Churches," has to do with a federal appeals court ruling that New York City must uphold -- gasp! -- The First Amendment. The post, which also appears on Fox Radio's home page, misleads with its headline. In fact, NYC schools cannot "ban churches." What they can do is prohibit their schools from being used as places of worship. If Fox had bothered to read a New York Times article on the same topic, they might have read this:
Deciding 2 to 1, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said the city had "a strong basis to believe" that allowing the religious services to be conducted in schools could be seen as the kind of endorsement of religion that violated the First Amendment's establishment clause.
"When worship services are performed in a place," Judge Pierre N. Leval wrote for the majority, "the nature of the site changes. The site is no longer simply a room in a school being used temporarily for some activity."
"The place has, at least for a time, become the church," he wrote, adding that the city's policy imposed "no restraint on the free expression of any point of view." Rather, it applied only to "a certain type of activity -- the conduct of worship services -- and not to the free expression of religious views associated with it."
Judge John M. Walker Jr. dissented, saying the ban on religious worship services violated the First Amendment's free speech clause. (Emphasis added)
So, not only is Fox fearmongering about religious freedom, but it is also spreading blatant falsehoods about judicial rulings. Fox's misinformation follows a long history of its irresponsibility when it comes to educating the masses, but there's no excuse for continuing to push these repeatedly debunked claims -- especially when all it does is make it clear that Fox doesn't understand -- or care -- about the First Amendment rights of Americans.