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