Opinion

Mother’s fight to stop Bible class in public school resurrects a troubled history with religion

A billboard sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Harrisburg, Pa. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) A dark chapter in our public schools’ tumultuous history with religion is repeating itself in Mercer County, W.Va.

A mother, who is an atheist, is fighting to stop her school system’s weekly, overtly religious Christian Bible classes so her child, a kindergartner, will not be ostracized for opting out when she will be required to take them next year in first grade.

I hope she wins. Legally, the federal civil suit the mother and the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation recently filed against Mercer County schools is clear-cut. It is unconstitutional to preach the Bible to students in school. Not only are these classes unconstitutional, they’re counterfactual; the Bible in the Schools course includes a lesson on creationism asking students to imagine that humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time, defying common sense and contradicting widely accepted scientific proof that this is untrue.

But there’s another pressing reason to keep these classes out of public schools: to prevent ostracizing of religious minorities and atheists. The mother in fact used pseudonyms for herself and her child in the lawsuit because she feared the girl would be picked on. Though she has the right to opt her child out, it will set her apart. I know that from personal experience.

Newspaper coverage of the McCollum v. Board of Education case. Screengrab from Youtube

My family moved to northwest Ohio in 1974, when I was in the middle of fourth grade. The elementary school I started attending still conducted religious education classes even though it was roughly a quarter century after the Supreme Court’s seminal ruling in McCollum v. Board of Education.

In its 8-1 decision, the court ruled that holding weekly religious education inside public schools was unconstitutional after Vashti McCollum, an atheist, had sued Champaign, Ill., public schools on behalf of her three sons.

Vashti McCollum. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Because one of her sons did not attend religious education classes, he was often teased at school and beaten up on the way home, a fact that influenced the judges’ decision.

During my first week in my new school in northwest Ohio, a woman paid by local churches came into my classroom and began teaching Bible stories about Jesus and leading us in Christian hymns. My parents complained and I was excused from the weekly classes and banished to the library.

My peers noticed my absence, and some questioned why I left. “I’m Jewish,” I said. They asked if I believed in Jesus. I said no. “You’re going to hell,” they said. For the first time in my life, I felt different and embarrassed because I was a Jew.

My parents could have sued to stop the classes — and hopefully the teasing from peers, but they never did out of fear of making us stand out even more. After another family threatened to sue, the school finally eliminated the classes in the 1980s, almost 30 years after the nation’s highest court had outlawed them.

At least 250,000 students still participate in Bible classes during the school day in various states, according to Released Time Education, a Christian organization that runs such programs. Those numbers would not include similar programs run by Mormon organizations in Utah. Most organizations, though, run the classes in a nearby church or nonschool building, following a 1952 Supreme Court ruling in Zorach v. Clauson. Legally, students can be released from school for religious classes, provided the classes are voluntary and run off school grounds.

In 2017, nearly 70 years after the McCollum ruling, Mercer County is unusual because it is running its Bible course inside classrooms. There are no statistics available on how many students opt out of Bible classes, which began in Mercer County in 1939.

A former Mercer County schools parent, Elizabeth Deal, told CBS News on Feb. 8 that she took her daughter out of the school system because of the way her child was treated after choosing not to take the Bible course. Other children told Deal’s daughter that she and her parents were going to hell.

In the 1940s, Jim McCollum, one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case that established the law on these classes, recalled a classmate who was outed as Jewish because he opted out of in-school Bible class. The boy was beaten and his glasses were broken.

Schools can and should educate children about the world’s religions or the role the Bible plays in literature and history. Now ought to be a time when schools are focusing on creating understanding of many religions rather than making non-Christians easier targets for bullying.

(Linda K. Wertheimer is a former Boston Globe education editor and author of “Faith Ed., Teaching About Religion In An Age of Intolerance.” Follow her at @lindakwert)

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Linda K. Wertheimer

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  • The “wall” between church and state benefits both. A church which requires governmental acknowledgement of its doctrines reveals its weakness by seeking approval of civil government. It is no surprise that these cases primarily originate in our more backward provinces where Cato’s maxim that “religion is what keeps the poor from killing the rich” is played out in its fineness.

  • The Freedom From Religion Foundation does a great job education the public about separation of government and religion and supports children and families facing ostracization because of different or no religious beliefs.

  • It is too bad that schools have ignored legal decisions 20-30 (and now 60 some) years ago, many children and families have been hurt by it. School is hard enough without being picked or bullied on.

  • It’s an opportunity to teach religious tolerance, personal boundaries, equal rights, and sharing respect. (And don’t forget to teach the children, too.)

  • Supposedly, there are tens of thousands of Protestant denominations plus the Orthodox and the Catholic who profess Christianity. Furthermore, there are several Scripture translations. The Public Schools are in no position to endorse one tradition above the others. Now, even if we stuck to the Torah, and just wanted kids to learn the ten commandments on a secular basis, as the beginning of law and morality, people number the commandments differently, and again we have the question of which translation of Scripture. And, this is just from an argument of preserving Judeo-Christian culture which, in fact, is what gave rise to Western Civilization (OK, I know I’ll probably get some arguments here, but hear me out, even if you don’t accept my premise.)

    We are currently such an amalgam of beliefs (yes, Atheism is a *belief* in no God) in this country, that, even if it weren’t acceptable from a legal standpoint, which it is, if we do it for one, we have to allow it for others, and, if it excludes in one instance, it excludes in others, and this all on the public dime. For example, we now have charter schools teaching Islam and serving halal foods on the public dime. Same problem: which version of Islam, and, if a child or the parents of a child wanted their kid to learn Arabic, a rising language in our country and the world, but did not want their child instructed in a particular version of Islam, the situation becomes very touchy and difficult for the “opt out” child.

    America, we have a very large problem here and it is how to preserve the Union. We have so many different beliefs that we start to discriminate within the group, making it very difficult for a member of a religious group to be an individual, similar to what has happened with cultures and ethnicities (such as, who is to say what constitutes Hispanic or Black or Chinese culture?).

    Now, as I acknowledged earlier, religion in schools is legally unacceptable, but who is to even say what is to be taught on a secular basis; which version of Buddhism is what the religion actually teaches, which version of Hinduism is what the religion actually teaches, etc. We are no longer in a world where we can even say on a secular basis, at a basic level, what a religion teaches without offending and discriminating against someone. There is no easy solution. But, maybe the real-life world which we are in will finally get it through the head of those teaching Bible classes in Public Schools that their continuing what they are doing is actually going to hurt them, when they open the doors to others who teach what they oppose.

  • No, atheism is not a belief in no god. That’s how religionists try to delegitimize atheism, by claiming it is a belief. Which is rather absurd, considering that theism is a belief.
    Atheism is the lack of a belief in god. what you want is ANTI-theism.

  • That fact that you call these areas of the country “backward” demonstrates your ignorance, arrogance and self-importance.

  • Which is a belief, unless you can demonstrate beyond all doubt that God does not exist.

  • The rights of religious people are just as important as the rights of the non-religious.

    The rights of the non-religious do not trump those of the religious.

    Classes if offered should be optional. If someone is not interested they should be allowed to opt out. IF they are bullied, the answer is not cancelling the activity but dealing with the behavior.

  • I also have no belief in unicorns and banshees. I don’t believe is Zeus or Thor. Neither do you. That’s not a belief either.

    “I have no belief that there is a god” is not the same as saying “I believe there is no god.” syntax is your friend.

  • Sorry, I misread your statement. Absolutely.

    ANTI theism is a belief. atheism is a lack of belief.

  • From a “terminology” aspect I can respect your definitions.

    I just remember my reading of Hume and how “belief” plays an almost essential role in most of what we “think” including the coorelation of cause and effect. It appears to me that we have far more beliefs than we often realize or acknowledge.

  • So a Christian/Muslim/Mormon/etc… tells me my eternal fate is a
    certain state because I’m being punished for my lack of belief, why
    would I care? I don’t believe it anyway. I fail to understand why a Jewish person who doesn’t believe in Jesus would be overly bent out of shape about the content of a religious belief system they don’t believe in.

    So I realize I’m
    different because someone else believes differently than me. I thought we were moving into the 21st century where
    differences are celebrated and we don’t have to all be the same generic
    thing.

    These are opportunities to have conversations about respect for those who believe differently than me, resilience, tolerance of those who think I am wrong and so forth.

    I read the article’s author fearing bullying but yet she seems fine with one individual using legal authority (and fine with FFRF) as a bullying tactics (which is the imposition of power against an individual or group for the purpose of restricting them or ostracizing them) and using bullying tactics of language (stigmatizing other’s personal beliefs).

    I hear projection here, blaming others for behavior that the author herself is advocating.

    I guess it is OK to restrict the rights of others as long as they are religious and they are not Jewish, Muslim or some other minority faith group. As long as they are Christians that is OK.

  • As I understand it there is no right to any promote religion within the US public school system. The version of belief is irrelevant.

  • Point taken, but you also made my point for me: one can hardly say anything these days without saying something which will offend or discriminate against someone. Furthermore, while you lack a belief in god or gods, there are some who identify as atheists who are perfectly fine with others defining atheism as a *belief* that there is/are no god(s) and they would not necessarily *believe* that saying that means they are anti-god(s) because they are perfectly fine with others having a *belief* in god(s), although they find it silly. So, you see, here’s another of my points being made in this retort; there is a lot of in-group discrimination going on, and, since atheism has no central authority (even though there are groups like American Atheists), who made one individual or one or more such group(s) god(s) over what people who call themselves atheist should *believe* about the term? I *believe* you are splitting atoms of thought.

  • No, it is simply a matter of fact, often in defense against people who would define our beliefs for us.
    In this case, there is a real difference between an anti-theist and an atheist. But if you would like to split things even further, I am strictly speaking not an atheist, and definitely not an anti-theist. I am an it-doesn’t-matterist, in that I believe that the whole question doesn’t matter. Or, more accurately, the ultimate answers to ultimate questions ultimately don’t matter.
    The NT tells us that “not a sparrow falls, but god knows about it.” But the sparrow still falls, and therefore it doesn’t matter whether god knows about it or not, at least not to the sparrow.

  • No, that’s just fact: Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina by and large have the lowest life expectancy, lowest incomes, highest unemployment, poorest education, greatest disease, and religious groups most likely to entangle church and state. Georgia is largely excluded due to Metro Atlanta, likewise Tennessee due to Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis. It doesn’t make me any more important. I served at Fort Polk for two years; it was a sweet little Army town but the Army was the most progressive institution there. Some idiots burned down a movie theatre because they said there were demons in it. If that ain’t backwards I’ll kiss your rear end, son. Segregationism itself did not raise the status of poor whites, but the willingness of The Powers That Be to look the other way when lynchings and the like occurred provided a catharsis for them.

  • I think that is why the religious go to church/synagogue/mosque, send their kids to Sunday school etc and have them participate in other belief-related activities. Public schools are inclusive. Better to spend more time on math and reading. Or religious studies – all faiths/belief systems covered.

  • I live in SC and have lived in NC, GA, MS and LA and I agree with kangaroo. It’s sad and includes some friends and family – but true.

  • You must live a charmed life. You mean to say that you have never warned someone about a third person and then had that person engage with the third person and get hurt? Does that mean you never cared for them? Some people have to learn the hard way and sometimes you can be wrong too.

    Also, is it not reassuring that with natural events some things are predictable rather than totally chaotic? Furthermore, as to a model of predictability, even the bell-shaped curve allows for novelty beyond two standard deviations either side. So, just the fact that you personally could not see something coming does not mean that, in the big picture, it wasn’t orderly and predictable.

    Caring about somebody or something does not always mean stopping it or preventing it because not everyone who helps you out of a scrape is your friend and not everyone who allows you to learn from your own mistakes is your enemy. And, since our puny minds really don’t understand the big picture of what happens in nature or world events, it does not mean that there is not method and order to what we don’t understand, nor that good cannot come out of apparent evil. OTOH, there is a song that says (and you can substitute whatever you want for drinking), “they say drinking, it’s just a temporary fix, but sometimes temporary is good enough for me.” So, you can despair, hope, or distract (and probably some things I haven’t thought of). Something seems to matter to you, since you hang out here on RNS a lot. Perhaps it amuses you, or maybe you’d care to say what brings you here?

  • Why do I hang out here? someone else wants to know as well. If I can get some time for the lengthy answer he requires, I will!!!!

    But for your question: yes, it amuses me. Yes, there is stuff to learn, as much from the assumptions people make about their postings as from the postings themselves. Yes, I like to write. Yes, I like to think through people’s arguments, as well as my own.

    A few hyper religionists appearing herein would say I am here to misinterpret scripture, to lead astray the ignorant, the gullible, and the easily led. That’s a quote! If I only were it so easy a thing– or alternatively, if only they hadnt demonstrated conclusively how easy it is! Take your pick! Others say I am here to promote sin. Well that all depends upon what you view as sin, or at least, whether you’re referring to the pot or the kettle. Of course, there are a number of just plain bigots that post: religious bigots, antigay bigots, and Semite bigots, anti Muslim bigots, anti Mormon bigots, anti catholic bigots, and my very favorite ones, catholic anti catholic bigots, and an occasion homosexual hating homosexual.

    They are always fun and interesting, if only for their constant appeals to virtue– by virtue of their being bigots, of course. “It’s right to hate and despise ‘fill in the blanks’. If it wasn’t right, I wouldn’t be doing it.”

    Some will tell you I am a hater of all things christian. But that just tells me they don’t understand a thing about me, except for their ownprojections/reflections/deflections. I’m the one that’s always telling Good Christians (TM) to stop damning other Christians for not being the True Christians (TM) but do I get any credit for that? Only from the atheists. The liberal Christians are to too busy defending themselves from the conservative Christians, and vice versa.

    Feel free to peruse my comment history, and you’ll see a great deal of what I care about. Also, feel free to interpret however you wish; everyone else does. But I know who I am, and I know what’s in my heart.

  • I don’t disagree with you, but I don’t necessarily agree either. Hume is right in one sense: getting up every morning is an act of faith. But there is a difference between belief based upon experience, belief based on fact, belief based upon logic– and these are totally different from belief based upon wishful thinking, belief based upon tradition, belief based upon, well, BELIEF.

    The probability is quite high that the sun will come up tomorrow, because the probability is quite high that the earth will keep turning and the sun will keep shining. An easily demonstrable cause and effect, and we have every reason to think so. The probability is quite low that Jesus will return tomorrow at 10:00 am, and no more likely that he will return at 10:01, 10:02, and so on. And we have every reason to think so. Could happen. After all, in a world where it’s the Democratic Party’s fault that Trump(don’t)care doesn’t come to a vote when the Party of Personal Responsibility has control of both houses of Congress, anything is possible!

    Like many atheists, i’d give worlds for concrete, repeatable evidence that there is a god- evidence that I can experience, evaluate the reality or factuality of, evidence that my thought processes and comprehend. I see a lot of assertions about the nature of god and his/her/its message to the world, but no actual evidence of either god or message, and a lot of assertions that are contradicted by a lot of other assertions. As I always like to say, 2/3 of the world thinks the Christian story is a myth, and half of those that don’t think so disagree vehemently with the other half.

    So, turning your question back to you, whom are we to believe?

  • “I don’t believe it anyway. I fail to understand why a Jewish person who doesn’t believe in Jesus would be overly bent out of shape about the content of a religious belief system they don’t believe”

    For the same reason Christian fundamentalists are so hell bent on trying to get their sectarian beliefs into public education. It’s an issue of dominance and privilege. That such beliefs matter and those omitted do not. The same Christians vehemently object to content from beliefs besides their own. The point is not to share or play nice with other religions.

    Neutrality to religion demanded by our constitution is best handled at two ends. Either omission entirely of sectarian content or embracing all faiths in a fair and ecumenical fashion. The latter is far more pleasant. Better to embrace all than have to exclude them.

  • Certain religious people act and believe that their privilege is greater than the rights of others. Especially the non religious. To the point of defaming, maligning and attacking the rights of the non religious.

    It is not the function nor serves any legitimate purpose for a public school to promote sectarian religious beliefs. If you want such classes, you don’t need tax supported resources for it. Hold them in the house kg worship of your choice.

  • That was a good articulation of your ideas (I was tempted, very tempted to say *beliefs*) and, at points amusing too! ; – ) Playing with ideas is fun — even when we don’t agree. I met a pleasant fellow today who is an ordained minister of the ULC, a secular religious foundation. http://www.universallifechurch.org/ “Anyone can become a minister immediately in the church, without any pre-ordination process.” They believe that “as a function of one’s right to freedom of religion, everyone already is authorized to preach their beliefs and they are merely giving this fact recognition.” His belief? That everyone is seeking the divine or god and his job as a minister is to help people on their own path, whatever that path might be. He engages people on their own beliefs, but will not argue with them about someone else’s beliefs. He also studies to learn about all different beliefs. We didn’t agree, but I enjoyed talking with him. He had been asked by a lot of people to do weddings and such so he just got himself an on-line ordination certificate which makes it valid, although people can and do marry each other legally these days. Still, he was soft-spoken and interesting, so I can see how this would appeal to some people who wanted a minister for a ceremony to which they invited others…

  • Public schools have a difficult enough time just teaching the basics and what a student needs to live and get a decent job. Taking them out of class for religious classes is just one more distraction from the fundamental mission of public schools.

    Look, churches, synagogues, temples, etc. have two whole days every single week to give classes on religion (Saturday and Sunday). All the religious classes in public schools do is end up in controversy and lawsuits. Let the religious classes be done on the weekends, where it’s totally voluntary and each family decides what’s best for them.

  • Schools can and should educate children about the world’s religions or the role the Bible plays in literature and history.
    Now ought to be a time when schools are focusing on’ creating understanding of many religions’ rather than making non-Christians easier targets for bullying…….the author smartly concludes in her article.

    But any religion can easily be divisive by what it declares and that can make many to become unnecessarily uncomfortable. Schools should not be such places for that kind of experience.

    …and is worse than an unbeliever……1 Timothy 5:8

    That’s a typical example of how Christian writings make non-Christians feel unwelcomed.

  • one: Am I to understand that Jews, Muslims, and other religious minorities are all “non-religious”? Please quit using the words “religion” and “religious” disingenuously. Say “conservative Christian” when you mean “conservative Christian.”

    two: “Take this class or you’re going to Hell.” That is what Christian bullies learn to tell their non-Christian peers when they’re exposed to conservative Christian indoctrination. Even if such a class were legally optional, it wouldn’t sound optional to a school-aged child.

    three: Speaking of the law, religious indoctrination in the public schools–including teacher-led prayers and sermons from the clergy–is flat-out illegal, and has been since the early 1960’s. The answer to activities that are ILLEGAL is not to make them optional. The answer is to end the activities.

    four: There are countries in which Christians constitute a persecuted minority. Our own USA isn’t one of them. It is plain ignorant to characterize the ability to impose unconstitutional religious instruction on tax-funded schools as a right that conservative Christians are being denied.

    five: Any parent who wants their children religiously indoctrinated at school is perfectly free to send those children to a private religious school. As long as tax dollars aren’t funding it, the law does not prohibit religious indoctrination in private schools.

    six: (Matthew 6, 5-6, NIV) “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

  • As part of the Religious Education syllabus we also educate about Humanism. Spent an hour talking with 10 year olds in a (UK) state school only a couple of weeks ago.

    Not selling, just explaining what Humanism is and answering questions. This year these groups are studying Humanism and Christianity. Local vicar was in recently doing the same as I did.

  • Re: “The rights of religious people are just as important as the rights of the non-religious.
    The rights of the non-religious do not trump those of the religious.”

    Both these are correct, but they have no bearing on Bible classes in public schools. The right to worship is not affected, whether they’re allowed or not. People can hold all the Bible classes they want … in churches, in homes, in Sunday schools, in parochial schools, etc. They’re not illegal.

    Re: “Classes if offered should be optional.”

    They’re not “optional,” if kids who aren’t in them are bullied or ostracized.

    Re: “IF they are bullied, the answer is not cancelling the activity but dealing with the behavior.”

    You assume all school personnel are willing to deal with it and stop it. Many times, they’re not. In a lot of these schools, the staff are militantly religious and don’t care much for any kids opting out. Many of them very well may approve of the bullying.

    Oh, and don’t tell me it won’t happen. It will. If you’re honest, you’ll admit it will.

  • Which Bible do you use? The Catholic, Protestant and Jewish versions are all different. These people don’t know what they’re doing and have no business teaching what they don’t understand. I agree with Kangaroo52 that the separation of church and state benefits both. Compare American religion and Europe and the UK. They have all had state religions. America is much more vibrant religiously.

  • Nobody’s rights are being restricted. Christians do not have the right to preach to other people’s kids in public schools.

    You have every right to teach religion to your own children.

  • Yes. Collecting stamps is a hobby. But “not collecting stamps” is not a hobby. There is no action that constitutes “not collecting stamps.”

  • And isn’t it ironic that the religious children are the bullies? Not very like Christ.

  • “Schools can and should educate children about the world’s religions or
    the role the Bible plays in literature and history. Now ought to be a
    time when schools are focusing on creating understanding of many
    religions rather than making non-Christians easier targets for bullying.”

    I agree with the above statement. I once taught at a public high school where one of the most popular literature courses was titled, “The Bible as Literature.” The teacher was an even-handed Christian who faithfully presented the different literary genres found in the Bible, and limited discussions to strictly the literary aspects of the Bible. She didn’t allow the religious students to preach or proseletzye their classmates, but they were free to carry on conversations with other students outside the classroom. Those discussions proved to be a valuable exchange between students of differing religious backgrounds and even to the nonreligious.

    I realize that great literature teachers are hard to find, who are capable of teaching the Bible in the manner I’ve discribed. Another difficulty is the fact that most principal are risk-adverse, and don’t dare experiment somethingthing like this, or defend it to angry parents who haven’t been properly informed of that such a class is and is not. My experience some 35 years ago in a rather conservative part of the country is plenty of proof that it indeed, can be done..

  • I figure that if parents want their children to have a religious education, they should take them to the appropriate place for that- a church, synagogue, mosque, etc. Not a public school. And if they really want their children to learn about faith, they can do that by LIVING IT at home.

  • I agree that it is important to teach the basic tenets and texts in the context of understanding various religions in a cultural and historical context. I’m a medievalist, and frequently end up teaching theology as part of the historical narrative, especially where it intersects law. (I’m teaching a class next fall on marriage law, and boy, that is so much about the Church!) But in the context of teaching ‘faith’ and proselytizing ? That’s a big NO. And please don’t interrupt my class with burblings about ‘God’s blessings’ and your interpretations via your pastor. I’m interested in text and historical doctrines. Not your particular dogma.

  • Yes! One of my favorite classes in university was a ‘Bible as Literature’ class, taught by a professor who was personally mostly agnostic but who was familiar with many religions and actually used parts of them as guidance in his own life. It was a fascinating class. We had one woman though, a pentecostal woman who kept interrupting with her view/her pastor’s views on prophecy and interpretation and all sorts of things. She was maddening, and he finally told her that she should shut up or get out, that _he_ was the professor and if she wanted to teach, she could get her doctorate and teach her own classes. She was quite a bit quieter after that.

    He was fascinated by the book of Job though, and we spent a LOT of time on Job. Very interesting look on reason and suffering, particularly to our modern eyes.

  • What a great example you have shared here! Some of the staunch Christian high school students had similar difficulties to those of the Pentecostal woman, but the teacher was firm but polite, and always encouraged students to continue their conversations beyond the classroom.

    I wanted to teach this Bible as Literature class, as I had earned about 20 college credits in Biblical literature (I was pursuing an interest in a church career during college) but I didn’t dare try to compete with this very popular teacher!

  • Neutrality to religion is not demanded by our Constitution. The design of our Federal government was to leave religion to the States. Our Constitution fully allows for all States to be explicitly Christian, and so they were until of late. One day we will recognize the inescapable Truth of Christ’s words, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.”

  • This mother should be reprimanded for the eternal harm she is inflicting on her child. W. VA school system, stand for Truth. Don’t back down to falsehood.

  • That is a bigger load of crap than in my niece’s diapers after giving her chili.

    The First Amendment demands neutrality of government with religion in the letter, intent and application of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause. Somehow whatever version of the Constitution you have been reading, has the words, “These apply only to Christians” written in the margins. Because it is nowhere to be found in the one which forms the basis of our laws.

    One cannot guarantee free exercise of religion without the separation of church and state to ensure sectarian discrimination is not public policy. In EVERY case where government and religion are entangled with each other, sectarian discrimination is the end result. Hence neutrality to religion is essential to guarantee the safety and sanctity religious beliefs and practices for all citizens. Not just the ones who believe as you do.

    It would be nice if Christians like yourself showed any respect for beliefs other than your own and understood what religious freedom means. But that is clearly not the case here.

  • How very arrogant and spineless of you to not only declare your opinion the “Truth of God”, but to try to use religious belief as an excuse for a truly awful point view. No Doug, out of all the religious views and beliefs put there, this is the one which appealed to you. Show some courage and own your opinion.

    There is no response so immorally bereft of responsibility than, “it’s not my opinion, it’s really God’s word”

  • Why do you despise the Truth TRUTH of God?
    (TRUTH = Truly Repellent and Unsupportable Theological Hogwash)

  • Perhaps you misunderstand. The existence and being of one God — Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all — is reality. To act as if this Reality were up for debate is not only foolish, but harmful. If a mother were to feed her child poison, we would rightly declare her unfit to be the child’s parent. We would insist the child be removed by Government force. Much more serious should we view the eternally harmful consequences being inflicted on a child by a blatantly atheist parent.

  • “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” — Jesus Christ

    ‭Matthew‬ ‭18:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • Although the name Doug uses the same letters as God, you are not him. You mistake opinion for divine pronouncements.

    Being spineless, you think invoking religion absolves you of being civil or respectful to ideas other than your own. Your concern for the souls of children is dishonest, self serving bullshit. You simply lack the courage to stand behind trespasses to others. You have already shown a willingness to lie and slander on behalf of your faith. I wonder what other immoral acts you would justify the sane way.

  • Unfortunately our colonies did have state-sponsored religions and some collected taxes to support the church. There was often enmity and discrimination. The federal government wanted to stop it and the Constitution was framed for that but the Feds had limited power early on. It wasn’t until the 14th Ammendment that the last states complied and amended their constitutions.

  • Nowadays I just say I have no reason to think gods exist. I try to avoid using “believe” and make sure I say “gods” instead of “god”.

  • Yes, For example, a student does not have free exercise of religion if a school employee leads them in prayer to a deity. This violates the free exercise of religion of every student, even those who purport worship the same god

  • Google the Philadelphia Bible Riots for a nice example of Christian love and charity. Protestants required all students to read out of the protestant version of the Bible and pray protestant prayers. Catholics who objected were treated as unpatriotic. Protestants then started a riot in the Catholic area of town, and blamed the Catholics.

    Religion and political power are always a dangerous combination.

  • Try adding “often” before “does.” They often do a very poor job too. Their spokesman Andrew Speidel or whatever is an unremarkable, disrespectful person. Their goals are admirable. Read the comments section on their Facebook page to see the overwhelming hypocrisy of their supporters. Their president Annie Gaynor is not entirely unlike horrible Mother Teresa.

  • Show respect by doing things such as…posting vile, disgusting, perverted, offensive comparisons for readers to read such as “in my niece’s diapers after giving her chili.” Of the countless analogies you could have chosen, you pick one essentially referencing your little niece’s private parts? How sick. Quite telling actually. Son, you’re the second to last person, behind me, who ought to be lecturing others on how to be respectful of others.

  • Wrong, such classes should be banned from public schools because I have to pay for your kids to take them. If YOU want your kids to learn such myths and fairy tales, teach them yourself or enroll them in Sunday school.

  • Interesting. I typically say “deities.” Why avoid “believe” in favor of “think?” Does your heart not also tell you deities don’t exist?

  • Way to tone troll. It’s too bad you didn’t read past that first sentence. I am sorry that you are offended by my remarks. But not at all sorry that the remarks were made and I will continue to do so in such a tone.

    Frankly the post I responded to was far more offensive in its dishonesty and insulting to the ideals and history of our nation.

  • Kids may pray in school. Kids may form bible studies. Kids may form religious clubs. These are rights and are not restricted.

    Nobody has the right to use government authority or resources to make someone else’s kids pray. Nobody has the right to use government authority or resources to tell someone else’s kids which religion is the right religion.

    Your privileged attempt to force your religion on others is restricted. Your right to personally practice your own religion is not.

  • “when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

    But when you pray, go into your room, close the door”
    Matthew 6:5-6

  • You’re “sorry?” I forgive you. To increase your already high level of bravery even more, consider adding “to me” before “in.”

  • “The existence and being of one God — Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all — is reality delusion.” So, if you were rational, you would have referred to the “harmful consequences being inflicted on a child by a blatantly atheist TrueChristian™ parent.”

  • The Constitution died along with the collapse of its government in the war between the States. A new, fundamentally altered Constitution was established by Lincoln and the victorious North. The 14th Amendment was the fundamental alteration that effectively abolished state’s rights. Therefore, when we talk Constitution we must specify which one.

    That said, State governments have an higher obligation to Almighty God and must be true to Him when it conflicts with the Federal. As Scripture says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

  • Philadelphia has the oldest Catholic Church in the country. It is an unobtrusive building built in an alley to keep the Protestants from burning it down.

  • Unbelief is a result of the heart’s disposition, not logic. It is the effect, for which the cause is hatred of God. If you would believe, you must first desire to love God. The stimuli has been provided through Christ. Realize all unbelief is temporary, ultimately perishing with its victim.

  • Jesus said the unity of his disciples would serve as proof that he was sent from the father and his claims are true.

    Oops.

  • What you described is a nation in the latter stage of ignored wisdom. Infidelity. We are complaining of nausea after knowingly inviting all those with ebola to come amongst us and party. Will we not recognize this is the foolishness of polytheistic religious freedom? It is failed policy, the result of a nation failing to acknowledge God alone.

    “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.”

  • Hey, Doug, I want to learn the truth of god. Which religious belief would that be? Which sect of that belief? Which pastor, preacher or priest knows & preaches the truth?Oh, and how much will it cost? I want to make sure I can get to heaven for eternal bliss with the family I can’t stand now. Thanks in advance for your wisdom in this matter.

  • “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.” — Jesus Christ

    ‭‭John‬ ‭7:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • ” …I want to learn the truth of god. Which religious belief would that be? Which sect of that belief? Which pastor, preacher or priest knows & preaches the truth? Oh, and how much will it cost? ”

    Those are serious questions with difficult answers.

  • It is not by accident that God, before he creates a child, creates the child’s parents. It is a temporary status to see the child through her/his most formative years and to instruct the child foremost in the knowledge of God — his/her Creator — and the danger associated with the child’s inherited disposition if not remedied in Christ before Judgment; that apart from Christ the wrath of God abides on her/him. It will abide forever. No one has greater influence on the child, nor greater inducement to care, given the inherent natural parent-child bond also instilled by God. And to whom much is given, much is required. Apart from the grace of God, the child will continue in the way she or he is trained up.

    Virginia Law on the matter at the time of Jefferson:

    “By our own act of assembly of 1705, c. 30, if a person brought up in the Christian religion denies the being of a God, or the Trinity, or asserts there are more Gods than one, or denies the Christian religion to be true, or the scriptures to be of divine authority, he is punishable on the first offence by incapacity to hold any office or employment ecclesiastical, civil, or military; on the second by disability to sue, to take any gift or legacy, to be guardian, executor, or administrator, and by three years imprisonment, without bail. A father’s right to the custody of his own children being founded in law on his right of guardianship, this being taken away, they may of course be severed from him, and put, by the authority of a court, into more orthodox hands.”

  • Their blatant and arrogant style is too much even for me. I don’t want to eradicate religion but I want it to play by the rules. This hateful, in-your-face approach (to anything) causes more harm than good. The good news is they have a high success rate.

  • Fair enough. I believe you are extremely misguided, but I’m sure you believe anti-theists like me are. I don’t understand how anyone can buy into such nonsense!

  • It is a violation of the 1st Ammendment for a government institution to favor or promote one religion over another. To fail to follow this is most definitely a violation of one’s rights. If it was Quran classes or prayers we would all be on the same side.

  • When the states and its citizens approved the 14th Ammendment the constitution did not die – it was amended and the religion clause could finally be enforced as the framers intended: full freedom of religion not hampered by any state.

  • In my view, “think” seems to imply logic and reason while “belief” has a more emotional connotation.

  • I’ll answer in place of Doug.
    Which religious belief would that be?
    >Whichever one I was raised to hold true.
    Which sect of that belief?
    >Whichever one I am a member of.
    Which pastor, preacher or priest knows & preaches the truth?
    >That’s a trick question so I won’t answer it.
    Oh, and how much will it cost?
    >10% of your pre-tax income, some of your time, and maybe some insignificant sacrifices such as your little kid’s virginity.

  • This god over rule of law shows how fundamentalist religion (all of them) is contrary to democracy and freedom.

  • Forty-some years later, I still fondly remember visiting the different churches/temples in my home town as part of a Social Studies unit in grade school. Learning some of the key principles and practices of each religion was a valuable step in establishing an open-minded approach to understanding religion at a relatively early age, which naturally breaks down prejudice and religious isolation. It worked so well that I eventually gained the confidence to recognize my own atheism because it taught me that all religions are just freakin’ crazy.

  • Actually, the 14th was ratified “unconstitutionally” in that it was only ratified by some of the northern states, and not by required national consensus.

  • In one sense you are right. Freedom is subjective in that someone must always be denied it. I would assume in your view of freedom theives and murderers are placed behind bars. Am I correct? So even in your view some must be discriminated against and denied freedom. True freedom according to Scripture is the freedom to live righteously as defined by the God of Scripture. Unrighteousness is denied it. In the end we must define what freedom we are talking about.

    As for democracy, most of our founders were against pure democracy as we know it — mob rule. In God’s economy Christ is always to be recognized as Supreme — Lord of lords. KIng of kings. President of presidents.

  • I wish schools would put energy into preparing children for the “knowledge economy.” Creationism, Bible study and prayers have no place in a public school in the multi-cultural world! Take time and money to teach coding, efforts to stay in school, understanding the modern science of climate change and have quality social skills. I am a Christian clergyman and this is far more beneficial way of living the Christian journey in 2017.

  • Spuddie referred to what came out of his niece’s private parts, not to the private parts themselves. As someone who’s been changing many diapers over the last few years, you really have to be able to laugh at these things.

  • Oh, you’re longing for the good ol’ days. You know, when black people were slaves and had no rights, and women couldn’t vote. And let me guess: you’re male and white like me, right?

    Just how far are you looking to turn back the clock, Doug?

  • We are talking about elementary school kids here, not adults who are able to hold their own in an inter-religious discussion. Apparently you don’t find it all that troubling that a little kid would be told by her peers that she’s going to hell. You’re right, you don’t understand.

  • I’m about the same age. I came up in a predominately Jewish school district. We had to have sick notes for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, etc. No school Easter, X-mass, etc. I don’t think I saw a Muslim until I left for NYC. No one should have to lie about what they believe in or be lied about. That said, I’m a hard atheist from hearing the lies.

  • Even the price is difficult to answer? I mean, can I buy food before tithing or do I tithe first & then pay my rent?

  • So it’s just belief? I don’t have to submit on bended knee to a celibate man? I don’t have to hate anyone they tell me to? I don’t have to give any money to go to heaven? These are important questions. Help me out & tell me….

  • I’m aware of the unusual circumstances regarding those post-war Amendments. I’m OK with the former Confederates being forced to accept them since they dealt with slavery and the status of former slaves. They would not have voted for any of them and the wrongs had to be righted.

  • Yep. Just saying. I recently visited James Madison’s Montpelier home. Our tour guide stressed the “Divine” nature of the Constitution since it had endured for 230 years. Nope.

  • Not “belief” but “will.” Unbelief is the symptom of a more serious underlying malady which is a natural heart in rebellion against its Creator. Mockery, sarcasm and ridicule are also expressions of this natural heart. To hate God is our natural state or disposition. It is written, “we are by nature children of wrath.” Our nature must be miraculously changed before belief can spring to life. Persistence in our natural state will incur the eternal punishment of God. The better alternative is to accept Christ as our penal substitute and be eternally blessed.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but you sound like a racist to me. Why don’t you speak plainly and explain what you mean by “all those with Ebola”. What are you afraid of? ‘African-ness’, ‘blackness’, ‘foreign-ness’, ‘infestation’, or ??? You must believe in a false purity of Western borders and white bodies? Saint Augustine and Tertullian were from Africa and there are many places in Africa where Christianity is stronger than it currently is in North America.

    Ancient Rome worshipped many gods and also spirits, rivers, trees, fields and buildings. The Roman empire was a republic and not a democracy. So, are you saying we are going back to the errors of Rome? Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are theistic religions. Are you OK with all of these? (Presumably you are not OK with Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, tribal religions in the Americas and Africa and modern Neopaganism which are all polytheistic. So, does that mean you are also against Native Americans?)

    Freedom of Religion is not a policy but the first amendment to the Constitution found in the Bill of Rights. There had historically been plenty of religious intolerance in the colonies…

    Again, please, try to speak clearly, otherwise we can only guess what you allude to. Protestantism has long been divided against itself, so that is nothing new. Jesus said to take up your cross and follow Him and that His kingdom is not of this world. As the Book of Ecclesiastes says at the end (12:13-14): “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

  • I will try to remember to follow your example. I do like the subtle dig of using gods instead of god. Or am I mistaken?

  • Wow! Forgive my lack of clarity.

    I used the illustration of ebola simply because it is a recent example of contagious deadly disease. We readily recognized the foolishness of allowing any with the symptoms to roam freely. Known carriers were quickly quarantined. In contrast, we foolishly allowed free roam to those with religious beliefs antagonistic to the Christian faith. We thus promoted division in a most fundamental and destructive way. We are suffering from this foolish mistake. It is failed government policy. It is foolishly flawed political theory. Rome tried to alleviate the destructiveness of religious pluralism by making all swear ultimate allegiance to the Emperor. We are trying to accomplish the same thing with the worship of “Americanism.” Foolishness.

    As for Christ’s comment to Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world,” he was referring to the origin and nature of his Kingdom; it is not a measly earth-based kingdom like that of Rome, but originates from Heaven and encompasses all governments in heaven and on earth. Pilate recognized this when Christ told him he would have no authority over him were it not given to him from above.

    We would do well to recognize it also.

  • Thanks, much clearer thoughts. However, given our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and equality under the law, could the current situation of religious pluralism have been any different?

    The Bible is not instructions in how to set up a Christian Republic, nor was that the intent of the founders of this nation, who were inspired by Enlightenment ideas. The Constitution does not mention God. “In God We Trust” was not on our coins until after the Civil War. And, what was in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli? “As the Government of the United States… is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion… it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    The Founding Fathers erected the separation between church and state. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine were deists and rejected revelation. Tom Paine said, “I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life…. I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.”

    In conclusion, just as the antagonism between the ancient Romans and Christians existed from the beginning, so has antagonism between the U.S. and the Christian faith existed since the beginning. You may call it foolish, you may wish it were not so, but it has always been so since the foundation of this country.

  • But I spend a great deal of my time not collecting stamps. I’m really quite good at it, and have been recognized nationally as a non-stamp-collector. I think it qualifies as a hobby.

  • Oh, Doug hates religious pluralism and equality, Ace. At least, that’s what I glean from all of the comments he’s made on this article. He’s under the impression that America used to be a “Christian nation”; and that if it was, it should still be one now; and that if it never was, then it should always have been. Anything else is Just Plain Wrong.

    And if my impression of him is incorrect, then I invite him to correct me.

  • Honest question, Doug: Are you a member of the League of the South?

    Or just a troll, and you’re here for the giggles?

  • Many wrongly assume our Federal form of government was designed to be religiously neutral. This is misleading in that what held for the federal did not apply to the states. It was a Federal “system” of government. At the time of Independence our individual colonial states were emphatically Christian as evidenced by wording in their state constitutions. In order to encourage union, the federal constitution prohibited interference with the states by the federal government in matters of religion. It prevented an overarching Federal Church akin to the Church of England. It fully allowed state churches to continue uninhibited and they did. As for the Treaty of Tripoli it is correct, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Our form of “Government” was highly theoretical having no historical precedent. As for the individuals you mentioned, realize that a few individuals are not representative of the whole. Do the views of Ron Paul represent our nation as a whole today? Also, there was much opposition to “the infidel” Jefferson (as he was labeled) outside of Virginia. As common with politicians, Jefferson at least put on a show of Christianity because a blatant anti-Christ would have received social rejection in his day.
    Realize, the National Peter-like denial of Christ is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is to be expected by a largely apostate people.

  • Actually, I want to turn the clock ahead to the day in which every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD.

  • I have no problem with teaching the bible as literature, but it is often used as a trojan horse to teach Christianity in schools. I’m also skeptical about the idea that we need to spend much time teaching about Christianity. The majority of people in this country are Christian. We ought to spend equal or more time on Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism since they hare having a significant impact on the world and are foreign to most people.

  • Mammy yokum said the same thing nearly 2000 years later.

    Good is better than evil because it’s nicer.

  • “To hate god is our natural state.”

    Nonsense. Believe it or not, 2/3 of the world has their own god.

  • You could move to North Korea and cut out the middle man entirely. It hasn’t happened in 2000 years. It isn’t happening now.

  • So how do you know it’s the christiangod, and not the Muslim god, the Hindu gods, the Buddhist god.

  • Nice. And in the meantime, how do you suggest that we Christians treat those who are different from us?

  • Compassionately speak Truth to them. Support government restraint on the propagation of clearly anti-Christian propaganda, i.e. prohibit construction of mosques.

  • I think I made it abundantly clear that studying the Bible as Literature was strictly voluntary in the case I shared. I also clearly stated that the instructor had made it very clear this was a LITERATURE course, not a religious course!

    I don’t agree that we should spend ANY time teaching Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. By now everyone should realize that teaching ANY religious course in a public school is strictly forbidden!

    Were we ever to allow the teaching of Islam, you can bet your life the Muslims would use it as a Trojan horse to proselytize! They would scream “discrimination” if anyone dared to object!

  • Nope! Banished from Massachusetts in 1635, Roger Williams, himself a Puritan minister, established Rhode Island, a colony with no established church, and which granted freedom of conscience to everyone. The 13 Colonies declared independence in 1776, but it was years before the individual colonies entered the union. Delaware, the first to enter the union, entered in December of 1787 (Pennsylvania and New Jersey also entered in December of 1787). Rhode Island, the last of the 13 former colonies to enter, entered in 1790. The Constitutional Convention took place in 1787. (from Wiki) “Rhode Island, fearing that the Convention would work to its disadvantage, boycotted the Convention and, when the Constitution was put to the states, initially refused to ratify it.”

    I think the best which can be said overall, is that there was belief in a creator God and that most, but not all, residents were Christians. Some Christians were very intolerant of other Christians and Protestants were quite intolerant of Catholics.

  • I live in Japan, Doug. I’ve been here for close to twenty years. Christians are a tiny minority of the spiritual landscape here, 2% at most. How do you think I and other believers would feel if the government here started prohibiting the building of churches? Or started punishing us for not being Buddhists, or not worshiping the Emperor? The government actually did behave that way, in its fascist days, all in the name of “unity” and “national purity”. And it wasn’t all that long ago — it hasn’t even been a century since then. Older Japanese Christians have told me a little of what it was like.

    I would hate to be treated like this. And are you telling me that I should support government policies that would do the same to Muslims? To punish them for differing beliefs? To do unto others as I would hate to have done unto me? No, never. I see nothing “compassionate” or Christlike about that.

  • The LORD does not hold to a policy of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” when it comes to worship. He alone is God, and we are told he is a jealous God. He is also all powerful; your small number is not a limiting factor. We should all pray that our governments would be awakened and respond the way King Nebuchadnezzar did:

    “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.””
    ‭‭Daniel‬ ‭3:28-29‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • I think I made it abundantly clear that studying the Bible as Literature was strictly voluntary in the case I shared.

    In my day there was a religious education trailer in the parking lot that you could “voluntarily” attend during the school day. Most children did. The few that didn’t essentially got babysat by a teacher, and then ostracized by the other students. If you don’t attend the “bible as literature” class, I imagine you’d be similarly singled out.

    I also clearly stated that the instructor had made it very clear this was a LITERATURE course, not a religious course!

    You have to apply this to all possible instructors. Who is going to police whether or not the instructor crosses a line? Will conservative areas even care? When teachers and schools proselytize, it falls on atheists and other minorities to stop it. Many times, it requires a lawsuit for anybody to take action. Even when they win the lawsuit, threats and harassment from the community often force them to change schools and/or move. I’d rather not open the door to that.

    I don’t agree that we should spend ANY time teaching Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

    Hatred for minorities often comes from lack of understanding and falsehoods. We already know that, aside from extremists, not all Christians want to put gays to death. However, many people believe that all Muslims want to institute Sharia law and forcefully convert people under threat of death. Correcting that misunderstanding helps society.

    Were we ever to allow the teaching of Islam, you can bet your life the Muslims would use it as a Trojan horse to proselytize!

    We already allow teaching about Islam. When some Christians found out students were getting quizzed on the five pillars of Islam, they were furious and outraged; it made national news. A bible as literature class might quiz you on the Ten Commandments, and nobody cares. Both scenarios are only testing reading comprehension, not pushing belief.

    Muslims wouldn’t be able to proselytize this way since the other 99.1% of the population would call them out on it. There is also no risk of being chased out of the community by objecting.

  • The LORD does not hold to a policy of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” when it comes to worship. He alone is God, and we are told he is a jealous God.

    Translation (based on your other comments in this thread): “Because We believe The Right Things™, We are excused from treating seeing anyone with different beliefs as neighbours. Therefore, We are excused from Jesus’ explicit command to treat them as We would like to be treated.”

    To which the most appropriate reply I can think of is: “Skubalon”.

    And if you don’t know what that means, I’ll be happy to translate it for you.

  • Definitely should treat others the way we would be treated. However, we should not treat God like we would treat other gods.

  • A woman shared a story with me that when she was in public elementary school many years ago, she and her classmates would attend religious instruction once a week during their school day. Whether you were Christian or Jewish (she did not mention any other religions) you were picked up by the church/synagogue van, taken to classes and then returned to school. She spoke of it very highly and said no one singled anyone out just because they went to a different place. It was just how it was. I wonder if the philosophy of our public schools to keep our various beliefs separate from our ‘in school’ identities actually works the opposite of its intent. Perhaps by encouraging religions to participate in the public education of students particular to their belief (or no belief) would foster community instead so when someone breaks from the institutionalized mold and practices his/her faith (i.e. “That is Bobby, he wears a yarmulke because he is Jewish” or “I am not eating today because it is Ramadan.”) it will not be so strange as to cause some students to be ostracized. It will just be who we are. It is never a good policy to try and squash who and what we are and work to compartmentalize our lives. People prosper when they are allowed to freely believe and practice in all areas of their lives, including their schooling. When schools work to hide instead of encourage our religious beliefs one has to wonder if there is not an agenda to replace one’s religious identity with a secular one. As I agree it is not appropriate for a school to offer one religious instruction in their classrooms to the exclusion of the others, it is beneficial to consider a public education system that welcomes all religions to have a weekly time/place in schools and/or during school time.

  • Indulge this one last thought, “Wouldn’t it do more to foster diversity and community if we had a public school system where it was ordinary to see a priest, a rabbi and an imam regularly walking the halls of a school?” One is not the solution, none is certainly not the solution but all is absolutely the solution.

  • Nah, the League of the South doesn’t do the hoods and robes — they consider themselves too genteel for all that. They want the Southern states to be an independent nation, and pine for the “good” old days when men were men, women were women, and black people were, um, Animate Property.

  • I have no problem meeting them with counter threats to sell Texas back to Mexico, and let them figure out how to feed themselves with all the major agriculture in the North Midwest and western states.

  • Even that division into Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish oversimplifies, ignoring the Orthodox branchings that, if I recall correctly, have their own versions. Other groups, like the Mormons, have their own overtly acknowledged additions—and even more make additions that they don’t acknowledge as such, at best admitting that those additions are above other sources but under the Bible in value, even while they treat it on par with. (Ex. Citing Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as the definitive and only legitimate resource for word studies.)

    While some folks truly are trying to teach accurately but are so ignorant as to conflate so much, probably as many or more are more just interested in having the kids believe the “Correct” things (often supported via cherrypicking), to keep them from doing the “Wrong” ones (often defined via straw men). The vast majority of the stances involved aren’t nearly as clearcut as they claim, with the Bible able to support multiple opinions with equally strong arguments), which makes it more of an overt attempt at propaganda.

    I am Christian, and such presumption pisses me off. Those are the circles where disagreement is interpreted as disrespect or dishonoring, which is such a false equivalence. It’s possible to have an opinion and convey a sincere belief that someone else is wrong without ignoring, erasing, or insulting alternate possibilities.

    This mindset has so many more implications and effects that it isn’t funny.

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