Today the Orange County (FL) School Board decided to prohibit the passive distribution of Bibles from third party organizations in all schools in the county. They claim they are not prohibiting the free exercise of religion. I am not sure what they mean by “free”.
You cannot say Americans have the freedom to perform a legal action and at the same time, confine that freedom to areas where today government feels are appropriate. Once you have permitted the confinement of the free (and legal) exercise of religion, you then have the authority to abolish it entirely.
In a prior act, the school board banned administration, coaches, and teachers from any religious influence over the students. In one ruling they placed their employees in a choke hold, threatening their jobs if they dared to speak of God. No longer can a coach lead his players in prayer. No longer can a teacher discuss any of the biblical origins of our founding.
Know the why
When I was in college, one of classes required that I research and create a group presentation on Alexander the Great. As I researched I discovered that much of what drove him and his culture was mythology. Much of the Mythology was contained in books like The Odyssey and The Iliad. The Iliad was so important to Alexander the Great, he carried it with him always, even while conquering foreign lands. To understand Alexander the Great, his family and culture, you need to study the Iliad.
If you take the Iliad out of the Alexander the Great biography, you can’t understand why he did what he did. If you take God out of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, as some reading classes do, you cannot truly decern the message the Reverand was trying to give. If you take the Christian faith out of the Constitutional deliberations you may be able to derive at what happened but not why. If we teach that there is no higher power, either in action or by omission, we imply that rights are endowed by Government and not by a creator. If we take the Bible out of schools, how will the students understand our culture’s past and present.
If a student today were to ask about the signing of the constitution in 1787, What should he make of the words “Year of our Lord”. Were they referring to feudalism? If so, is it just a typo that the word “Lord” is capitalized? A teacher could respond that that was just customary at the time. Such an answer would be truthful but not complete. This common dating format was only common because of the overwhelming influence from a European, Christian, culture. Lord is capitalized because it is a name and title given to Jesus of the Bible. Other Christian influences can be found in the judicial system, the election of representatives, with the limitations on government and the separation of powers.
Why did Madison desire a divided government? With all the complaints today about gridlock in government it would be much easier if the individual houses of the legislature were combined. To avoid conflict and to streamline things we can merge it all into the executive branch. Our founders rejected an all powerful executive, not only because of their conflicts with King George III, but also because they recognized no King other than the King of the Universe. Madison and other founders knew the Biblical concept that natural man is sinful and therefore could not be trusted with ultimate power. Similarly, if one man is corruptible, so is mankind. For these Biblical reasons, the founders shunned the concept of kingly rule and, at the same time, resisted the rule of the mob, or a Democracy. To understand our history and culture we need an understanding of the Bible.
Religion of no-religion
We wonder about how our culture has degraded. Today children don’t learn about service to a higher power. They are taught only to serve their own good. Schools constantly reinforce a secular humanist religion. Indeed, the school board meeting today began with a moment of silence to pray and an audible pledge to a flag. One is hidden. The other is proclaimed. This is the new norm in schools. Religion is treated as shameful. It must be hidden in approved locations where it cannot grow and infect others.
All of the signers of the Declaration of Independence paid homage to a creator who bestows unalienable rights. Our Constitution includes a passing mention to the Lord of the Bible. The founders who crafted and signed these documents came from many religions and battled over mant topics. Still, nowhere can you find a disagreement on the authority of the Bible. We can discuss many instances where the Bible and religious texts were not only sanctioned but pubically funded. These founders, in one of their first rulings created the North West Ordinance where they agreed that “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
We have gone from prominance in our schools, where every student had a copy of a Bible, to today where, if it exists at all, it is covered in dust in a library, out of sight, out of mind. How do we expect this religion of no-religion to imact our nation’s future?
Is there a solution?
We can usually agree that there are some roles of government which are proper. Most agree, for example that it is an appropriate function to fund a police force which protects our rights. On the subject of denomintions, it is universally understood that government should not take sides. The school board has. They actively support secular humanism in schools and the religion of democracy. We submit that the school board avoid the deluge of lawsuits that will commence and repeal its sanctions on religious expression. Allow the parents of each school in your PTAs the power to decide on what religious materials they will or will not permit in each school. It does not take a village, it does not take a government. It takes a parent. The government has no right to make any decision on religion of the children they teach. Let the parents of each school make these judgement calls.
Thanks for attending the OCPS Board Meeting on Tuesday. While we may disagree on some things we do agree that civil discourse is the way we will arrive at public policy that benefits everyone and, in particular, protects the rights of all comers.
The only thing I wish to point out about this blog and your comments Tuesday is that secularism is not a religious position. A ‘secular’ place, like any agency that is not a religious organization, is one that neither promotes nor denigrates religion. That means that everyone is welcome and no sides are taken by the host. Think of a restaurant, a theater, a school, etc.
The absence of a discussion of religion in schools does not make it or the event ‘atheistic’ or even ‘secular humanistic’. Atheism and secular humanism parallels secularism by design, but these are only a position on the claim that a god exists–a claim that the school and our government neither rejects nor accepts. It may not do so according to the case law.
I’m sure we’ll disagree, but I appreciate the opportunity to comment here and look forward to seeing you participating in our democracy again soon.
I must respond to your closing first … Just a pet peeve … the founders discussed and shunned the thought of making America a Democracy. They feared tyranny of the mob just as much as a king. We are a Republic. Strangely the only time that seems to be mentioned is in the Pledge of Allegiance these days.
They imposed some very specific restrictions on government. Specifically on the topic of religion. They expressly forbade Congress from taking any sides in the form of laws. Since the same founders created laws to publish and distribute Bibles as textbooks throughout the nation, it does seem that they differentiated the Bible text from the establishment of a specific religion in the nation.
As we covered earlier, we do not live in a Democracy. Today’s popular opinion on whether or not the Bible belongs in schools is truly irrelevant. Almost all religions require, as a foundation principle, the call to spread the faith. Creating an environment in schools where that cannot occur clearly stifles the free exercise of religion. Demanding that prayer be silent and prohibiting faculty from practicing their faith is also a violation of the same principle. Restricting religious materials on campus from third party groups is a restriction of their free exercise.
I invite you to visit Plymouth Massachusetts. Walking distance from Plymouth Rock, there is the National Monument to the Forefathers. This almost unknown monument is the largest, free standing, granite monument in the world. It is a tribute to the early settlers. It describes in detail the principles of America at its founding. The four sided statue pays homage to Freedom, Law, Education and Morality. Each of these concepts is depicted by a large seated figure around the base. Those were all equal partners in the formula of America. Overshadowing them all is a 36′ tall, standing figure, of Faith. Her right hand lifts to heaven and her left clutches a Bible. She is at least 3-4 times larger than any figure on the base. She can be seen from any angle and any side. The back of the monument specifically names William Bradford and members of the first Pilgrim colony from the Mayflower. (Historical note: Jamestown Virginia was actually the first successful colony of England) On the front of this magnificent sculpture there is the following engraving “Erected by a grateful people in remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty”
America’s founding, more than anything else, was a religious endeavor. It did not end there. Throughout our history faith, specifically Biblical faith, has been a driving force. In the American Revolution Pastors led their churches to fight. While it was customary for the British to capture military leaders, orders were given to kill members of the Black Robe Regiment. They were feared more than any. General Washington lost more battles than he won. It was his faith and biblical morality that kept him fighting.
Remove the Bible, does history change? Do the colonists win? Take faith out of the equation. Does Washington quit? Does the famous early American spy Nathan Hale give up his information to save himself if he did not come from a strict Puritan family? Almost 100% of the people and organizations opposed to slavery prior to the Civil war were Christians. Do the people and organizations which drove the abolitionist movement see the moral dilemma of slavery without the moral compass of the Bible?
Review the works of Alexis Tocqueville and how he saw America’s greatness was not found in her laws, but her churches. Coming full circle to the Democracy comment, the French revolution created a mob rule democracy which failed. Here is Tocqueville on why America flourished and France failed: “I went at your bidding, and passed along their thoroughfares of trade. I ascended their mountains and went down their valleys. I visited their manufactories, their commercial markets, and emporiums of trade. I entered their judicial courts and legislative halls. But I sought everywhere in vain for the secret of their success, until I entered the church. It was there, as I listened to the soul-equalizing and soul-elevating principles of the Gospel of Christ, as they fell from Sabbath to Sabbath upon the masses of the people, that I learned why America was great and free, and why France was a slave.”
Today we teach history as if the God of the Bible was never an influencing factor. It is shameful and dishonest. We hide God away in a box as if religion were a cute hobby but not appropriate to discuss in the open. Benjamin Franklin, a brilliant man of legendary indiscretion, wrote to Thomas Paine after he reviewed Age of Reason, Paine’s excoriation of organized religion. After comically telling Paine to burn the work before anyone read it he said “If men are so wicked with religion,what would they be if without it?(Constitution.org)”
Today the school system is voluntarily and purposefully building a society without religion. As a tea Party, small government, organization, we recognize the problem. Immorality increases violations of natural law. Government then compensates by increasing size and power to keep society temperate and functional. A small government cannot exist in an immoral society.
Finally, the words of John Adams on the topic: “we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Restricting the free exercise of religion in schools is testing the truth of these wise men.
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