I don’t usually delve into politics, but I pay attention. When it comes to public education and infringement of First Amendment rights, that’s when I pay the most attention. And look at that, this article includes both! It caught my attention immediately.
In The Washington Post‘s “On Faith” section was this article, “Jesus prayer opens Texas textbook meeting.” If you’ve paid attention to the news lately, this topic has been something of a hot-button issue. The Texas school board (largely conservative, surprise surprise) was discussing changes to the social studies curriculum–changes that included ignoring Thomas Jefferson, de-emphasizing the separation of church and state or ignoring it completely, and instead emphasizing religious figures John Calvin or Thomas of Aquinas.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. I’m a big supporter of religious freedoms, and if you want to believe in the Great Pumpkin as deity or in a monotheistic God, go right ahead. But pushing a certain set of values into a public school system which includes a number of other religious and cultural beliefs, then that is a huge problem.
As for infringement of the First Amendment, a case could be made that the board’s actions are impeding the free exercise of religion of the children who attend those schools and their families’ rights to a good public education that does not endorse any one religion but respects individual beliefs. Although it’s not exactly a law, the board’s decision to revise the curriculum in favor of Christian beliefs and principles, as well as their usage of Christian beliefs in a government setting probably falls under the “government shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Despite what the board may want to think, separation of church and state is alive and well, even for boards of education.
An excerpt from the article:
“‘I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the Spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses,’ board member Cynthia Dunbar said.
“‘I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it… I like to believe that we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion and as long as we do so no great harm can come to our country.'”
Read the full article here.