Jewish Family Forced to Move from Their Delaware Hometown
This is crazy stuff. A family in Delaware did not appreciate what they considered proselytizing on the part of their children's public schools. The ACLU filed a complaint, exposing the family to appalling treatment from their community. A full account of the events can be found here, and this is just an excerpt:
Full details here and here.
A large Delaware school district promoted Christianity so aggressively that a Jewish family felt it necessary to move to Wilmington, two hours away, because they feared retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The religion (if any) of a second family in the lawsuit is not known, because they're suing as Jane and John Doe; they also fear retaliation. Both families are asking relief from "state-sponsored religion."Apparently, the home address of the family was published by a pro-prayer group called "Stop The ACLU", who encouraged its readers to "contact the family in question". The type of "contact" the family received was apparently what caused them to flee. When contacted, Stop The ACLU had this to say about the part they played:
The behavior of the Indian River School District board's behavior suggests the families' fears are hardly groundless.
The district spreads over a considerable portion of southeast Delaware. The families' complaint, filed in federal court in February 2005, alleges that the district had created an "environment of religious exclusion" and unconstitutional state-sponsored religion.
Among numerous specific examples in the complaint was what happened at plaintiff Samantha Dobrich's graduation in 2004 from the district's high school. She was the only Jewish student in her graduating class. The complaint relates that local pastor, Jerry Fike, in his invocation, followed requests for "our heavenly Father's" guidance for the graduates with:
I also pray for one specific student, that You be with her and guide her in the path that You have for her. And we ask all these things in Jesus' name.
The topic was brought up by the Dobriches at a board meeting, and the board considered its policy.
The district board announced the formation of a committee to develop a religion policy. And the local talk radio station inflamed the issue.
On the evening in August 2004 when the board was to announce its new policy, hundreds of people turned out for the meeitng. The Dobrich family and Jane Doe felt intimidated and asked a state trooper to escort them.
The complaint recounts a raucous crowd that applauded the board's opening prayer and then, when sixth-grader Alexander Dobrich stood up to read a statement, yelled at him "take your yarmulke off!" His statement, read by Samantha, confided "I feel bad when kids in my class call me Jew boy."
A state representative spoke in support of prayer and warned board members that "the people" would replace them if they faltered on the issue. Other representatives spoke against separating "god and state."
A former board member suggested that Mona Dobrich might "disappear" like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist whose Supreme Court case resulted in ending organized school prayer. She disappeared in 1995 and her dismembered body was found six years later.
The crowd booed an ACLU speaker and told her to "go back up north."
In the days after the meeting the community poured venom on the Dobriches. Callers to the local radio station said the family they should convert or leave the area. Someone called them and said the Ku Klux Klan was nearby.
Classmates accused Alex Dobrich of "killing Christ" and he became fearful about wearing his yarmulke, the complaint recounts. He took it off whenever he saw a police officer, fearing that the officer might see it and pull over his mother's car. When the family went grocery shopping, the complaint says, "Alexander would remove the pin holding his yarmulke on his head for fear that someone would grab it and rip out some of his hair."
The Dobriches refinanced their home so that Mona and Alexander could move to Wilmington, away from a situation that had become untenable, while Marco stayed behind because of his job, according to the complaint.
Ultimately, it continues, the expense of two households forced the Dobriches to sell their home. And Samantha was forced to withdraw from the joint program she attended at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is being treated for depression.
I am pleased that we had an effect in this case. We have others we want to put up on the site to shame them but have not gotten around to it.Nice.
Full details here and here.