Dear Dawg: Snort, here. Rip Snort. Intrepid Reporter and Friend of the Truth. Dawg, the Serenity Falls ISD has hired a new teacher for the elementary school. Nothing newsworthy about that except for the fact that this teacher is a Catholic nun. I have done the background research on this woman and have satisfied myself that she is properly qualified and certified for the position. However, we have learned that she is insisting that the students refer to her with her religious name: Sister Mary Margaret. Requiring students in a public school, forced to be there by compulsory attendance, assigned to a teacher who is herself a symbol of religion…is it not improper to require these minor children to refer to her as “sister”? Does this not force these young people to endorse religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular? It strikes your Intrepid Reporter as unconstitutional, Dawg. I look forward to your opinion. SNORT.
DEAR SNORT: It strikes the Dawg as a common courtesy, Snort. The new teacher’s professional name is Sister Mary Margaret. Children should be taught to respect her title and position and her preferred mode of address. The Dawg is perhaps not as objective on this topic as he should be, having been taught by Sisters and Fathers for 13 years. So take that into account. You are correct that public schools are not allowed to endorse religion. But they are also not allowed to be hostile to religion. The good Sister is asking for a common courtesy. To deny it strikes me as borderline hostility.
If I gave you any other response, my blessed mother, who worked beside the good sisters for many years, and affectionately referred to all of them as Sister Mary Holywater, would haunt me from the Great Beyond. So if you want to get crosswise with the Sister, find yourself another lawyer.
DAWG BONE: NEUTRAL TOWARD RELIGION. NO ENDORSEMENT. NO HOSTILITY.