Dynamics around religion in a community

Here’s how a dominant religion in an area can sidestep the Constitution. My wife came to work in the East Valley of the Phoenix Metropolitan area in the 70s. Most public schools had land across the street set aside for an LDS seminary. Students went to class there as part of their public school schedule, with “seminary” written alongside Algebra and History. But when students came to have my wife, a counselor, change their schedules or the seminary would call over and ask the counselors to level their classes for them, my wife objected. Her job, funded by taxpayers, did not include making schedule changes for a religious institution supposedly unconnected to the school. She was the first person, apparently, to ever challenge the practice. Don’t forget, too, the LDS church did not change its teachings on Blacks until 1978, so the fact that my wife is Black lent a tang to her obstructionism to what had always been accepted practice. By the way, plenty of Mormons told her they agreed with her, but the hierarchy was aghast. (she also started the first Black Student Union in the East Valley). Eventually, as part of a grudge against her, she was repeatedly transferred and eventually physically assaulted and had to retire early. The assault had no direct connection to her stand on the separation of church and state but the hostility toward her allowed things to get out of hand.
No one meant any harm having counselors change seminary schedules, it was just common practice in a heavily LDS community (our school was about 16% LDS in the late 80s). Interestingly, one high school in the district did not have a seminary; it was in a heavily Catholic, new area of town (Mesa, AZ) and St. Timothys dominated, but no one asked for kids to be released for catechism. (I remember that did happen in OH in the 50s, but everyone got a period off. In our district, only Mormon kids got that period in their schedule and there were Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist churches all around the schools).Be assured, this is no attack on the LDS folks, who are good people and very civic minded and great supporters of education (note the Mormons who denied Trump their support). It is just an example of power corrupting.

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