With a decision about the Buncombe County Board of Education’s religion policy Policy 652AR and Policy 653 postponed until the next meeting, members of the community are making their opinions known. Rabbi Rob Cabelli, of Asheville’s Congregation Beth Israel, wrote a letter about his thoughts on the policy. Below is a portion of his letter that can be read in full at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville’s WordPress site, The Shape of Justice:
The proposed rules, Policy 652AR and Policy 653, establish for the first time that the Buncombe County Schools will operate in compliance with the Federally-mandated Separation of Church and State, that every employee in the entire system will be actively trained in this issue and in the means to achieve neutrality with respect to religion, that there will be an established process for communication between people at every level of the system in identifying difficult situations and making sure that proper assessment and decision-making is carried out, and there will be a clear policy, pursuant to the above, regulating what forms of materials can be brought into classrooms and onto school campuses and buildings.
We support these policies – they may not be perfect, but the vocal opposition to them underscores that their essential thrust is on target. But we know that the pressure on the Board is strong, and we need to be sure that our voices are heard. And, frankly, that means in quantity as well as in quality.
We will be inviting Superintendent Baldwin and Chairman of the Board of Education Rhinehart to address an interfaith group, as the Superintendent did about a month ago. But – unlike a month ago and unlike March 1 – we need your presence. We need you to be present, constructively, in speaking on behalf of our values and the values of those who look to us for leadership. And we need you to be engaged in communication, to every extent possible, with those who take a different view on this subject of religious freedom.