School kids in Madison are not going to be able to take a field trip to learn about volunteerism and ring the bell for the Salvation Army after a parent complained, according to local media reports.
I'm fairly reasonable about separation of church and state issues. I don't think there ought to be crosses hanging in schoolrooms; I can see the point of people who are unhappy about unitary displays of the 10 commandments (absent any other legal context) outside the courthouse; I understand why Michael Newdow is unhappy about his daughter saying "under God". (I don't care but I do understand.)
This decision seems excessively deferential to the secular side of the question, however. The kids aren't praying. They aren't shouting "repent or burn" from street corners. They're standing and ringing a bell to collect money that goes directly to humanitarian relief for the needy. Yes, the Salvation Army is religiously-motivated and religiously-run, but the kids' participation in the bellringing was entirely voluntary. When American Atheists generate a billion bucks a year for poor families with THEIR bellringing campaign, then the Madison kids can have that as an option, too.
In the meantime, though, doesn't it make sense to allow - hell, not allow. Doesn't it make sense to encourage kids to participate in humanitarian charity as exemplified by the Salvation Army?
First Target and now this kind of thing. It makes you wonder about the priorities of some secularists.