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 The Religious Rights of the Child in Public Schools

 

The debate about Christianity and religion in the public schools and how the public government should handle it date back to the 19th century where there was battle on which Bible version was to be used in the common schools among Catholics and Protestants. In the 1940's the US Supreme Court ruled there was a "separation of church and state" issue that the government had to abide by based on 8 words from Thomas Jefferson. Which for years later lead to many rulings against Christianity including the teaching of evolution to kids. Home schooling became a much more viable option for Christian parents as a result.  

 

There is much confusion over this subject of the phrase "separation of church and state", especially when it comes to the public schools. For example, one forth grader was denied by his teacher to leave religious tracks in the bathroom at his school...Instead of bowing down to this confusion with blind faith, research was conducted on the internet and the US government's official website was found, and was later brought to the school's attention concerning this matter.


As a result, it cleared the confusion up and the boy was allowed to leave tracks in his public school...Most of the confusion comes from the relentless attacks from the ACLU, in a form of a threat or taking the matter which has to do with religious expression in public places to court. Those who question this practice, or not sure how a child can conduct him or herself in a public school setting according to the government, concerning practicing their religion. The law is pretty clear on the issue...It states and I quote;



"Religious literature: Students have a right to distribute religious literature to their schoolmates on the same terms as they are permitted to distribute other literature that is unrelated to school curriculum or activities. Schools may impose the same reasonable time, place, and manner or other constitutional restrictions on distribution of religious literature as they do on non-school literature generally, but they may not single out religious literature for special regulation."



For all you teachers and students or people in general who like to see what the US government says on this particular issue, in it's entirety the address is...

http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/08-1995/religion.html




Historical Background

How did the founding fathers view; "Separation of Church and State?"
The first anti-Federalist President Thomas Jefferson, was a welcome sight to many Baptists, who suffered persecution as a result of religion mixing with the State such as Catholicism. Jefferson fought for Baptist rights in Virginia...For his efforts on their behalf, the Danbury Baptists wrote letter of praise to Jefferson while stating a concern of theirs over the First Amendment. The letter states and I quote..


"Among the many millions in American and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the United States...We have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which bears to the millions which you preside over."



May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you...And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.



Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that religion is at all times and places a matter between God individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, of effects on account of his religious opinions, and that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific...Therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State), we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights."



The Danbury Baptists were worried about the how the Constitution worded the right of freedom of religion namely, "free exercise thereof". They thought this was a loop hole in the law, because the phrase meant to the Danbury Baptists, government given thus "alienable", rather than God-given hence "inalienable", and therefore the government might someday restrict freedom of religion through regulation. Jefferson not only understood their concern it was his viewpoint as well...During the second inaugural address in 1805, Jefferson stated and I quote...



"In matters of religion I have considered the free exercise is placed in the Constitution independent of the powers of the general (federal) government."
 


Jefferson clearly believed the government had no right to regulate religious expression unless that expression was causing harm to his neighbor. Jefferson was determined as President in pursuing what he believed was the purpose of freedom of religion which was not allowing Episcopalians, Catholics, Congregationalists, Islam, or any religion to dictate their particular form of religion as a State religion.



In January 1, 1802, Jefferson responded to the praise and concern of the Danbury Baptists in a letter which says...


Gentlemen,


The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association give me the highest satisfaction...Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.


Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. I reciprocate your kind prayers for protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, tender you for yourselves and your religions association assurances of my high respect and esteem.

 


In 1878, the Supreme Court in a landmark case, Reynolds v. United States, invoked this response of Jefferson's response to the Danbury Baptist Association with all it's contents unlike the Court ruling in 1947 which only invoked 8 words of the letter. The Court in 1878, reviewed the letter in it's entirety, and then concluded..."The rightful purpose of civil government are for it's officers to interfere when principles break into overt acts against peace and good order. In this...is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the Church and what to the State"

 


Yes, these words take Jefferson's private letter into context, a switch from how the 1947 Supreme Court ruled. A nightmare for organizations like the ACLU, who makes money on trying to prohibit freedom of expression of one's own religion in government places. Another point that should be mentioned, in the Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789, which shows months of discussions and debates none of them mentioned anything about the 90 Founding Fathers discussing the phrase, "separation of church and state" as we know it today.  


This is why the Supreme Court in 1947, used only 8 words from a personal and private letter from Jefferson to the Baptists. This Court like the ACLU, actually believed that religion ought to be removed from government places. For example, removing any words our founding fathers had in their speeches that had reference to God, from the student text books. Also removing Bible reading in a public school during break time or after hours in the, thereby restricting freedom of religion or as the ACLU calls it, "separation of church and state..."


This wasn't the original intent. Kids do have a right to practice their religion such as reading the Bible during their free time. Kids have a right to hear or read all the words that our founding fathers said, even it they make reference to God when taught history in our public schools. Having said that, does this mean we should go back to devotionals, and other religious practices like prayer which were once conducted by public school officials?  The answer is "no" for the simple fact that there are many false religions out there who do not know the Lord.  There are also special interests groups which have such on impact on government policy, would also corrupt or distort true Christianity being presented.  It's best to have the government neutral in this matter, and leave the upbringing on who God is to the parents but allow students to practice their religion in the public schools openly either by speech, or private prayers and so on.  

 

 

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