gavel

This is a terrible accusation to make against a teacher in Webster Parish, but Garth Owens seems to have neglected his Bible studies.

According to a lawsuit filed against what must be Louisiana's god-fearingest school system, Owens chastised a student for asking how Scripture could be the literal truth, since it mentions unicorns. A furious Owens denied that any such reference could be found.

James Gill: As Mike Edmonson's freeloading causes his downfall, everyone lines up to kick

In truth there are several. If you turn, for instance, to Job 39:10, you will be asked, “Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee?”

In Webster Parish, it is the school system that regards itself as the Lord's handmaiden.

A more blatant violation of the First Amendment could hardly be imagined, and the school system would be foolish and pigheaded to fight the lawsuit filed by parent Christy Cole and her student daughter, K.C. Don't rule it out, however. Other school systems, notably Tangipahoa Parish, squandered huge amounts of taxpayer money before facing the truth that they have no business forcing their charges to worship an Almighty.

K.C., according to the lawsuit, became “scared and embarrassed” when a furious Owens berated her in front of the entire class for asking another student about faith and unicorns. Had Owens known that unicorns are referenced passim in the Old Testament, he would have been obliged, as a Bible literalist, to assure her that they actually exist, or existed.

That would surely have been no stretch, for there is much in the Bible that requires a greater leap of faith than unicorns. Indeed, Cole alleges in her suit that three different teachers pooh-poohed evolution, even while they were supposedly introducing students to the mountains of evidence that support it. Those teachers assured Cole's other daughter, Ana Lopez-Cole, when she was in school, that Adam and Eve was a true story.

Adam made Edwin Edwards look like a piker. According to Genesis, he was 130 years old when he became a father, and died 800 years later. One of the science teachers who believe this, the lawsuit avers, dismissed the theory of evolution as a “fairy tale.” The sense of irony is evidently not well developed in Webster Parish.

The public schools of Webster Parish would not make nonbelievers feel welcome, but Christians too may resent the school-sponsored mass prayer sessions that are evidently an accepted, or mandatory, part of the daily routine. Cole, who was raised a Baptist, complains that the schools promote “beliefs to which she and her daughter do not subscribe.” Schools relay prayers over PA systems, for instance, while Cole points out that the Bible frowns on pious showoffs. But teachers who can forget unicorns cannot be expected to remember the injunction that Cole cites in Matthew 6:6 to support her view that ostentatious devotions are a sin.

Gill: To understand Mayfield's alleged misdeeds, look at Nagin's ethical standards

As for what the lawsuit calls the “Christian prayer, proselytizing and other religious inculcation” of the Webster Parish schools, it is clear that this is a cozy and tightly knit community with an absolute faith in the rightness of its beliefs.

But that makes no nevermind, for the U.S. Supreme Court has made it crystal clear that, while all are free to say their own prayers, when government starts fostering sectarian tenets or mandating religious observance, that's a horse of a different color.

Email James Gill at Gill1407@bellsouth.net.