St. Patrick's Day Commemorates a Christian Missionary

St. Patrick's Day is coming up and I'm sure your schools are going to be recognizing it with green and shamrocks and leprechauns. That's always fun. But I would encourage you to also teach your children and your students the real story of who Patrick was.

As a young boy he was captured and became a slave for the Irish. He then escaped after six years, became a priest, and went back to share the Gospel with his captors. The consequence of his life was 120,000 Irish converted to Christianity and 300 churches and monasteries were started. It's a fascinating story. St. Patrick's Day is the commemoration of the impact of a Christian missionary not only on the Irish, but on European and Western civilization. As Thomas Cahill writes in his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization:

"[A]s the Roman Empire fell, as all through Europe matted, unwashed barbarians descended on the Roman cities, looting artifacts and burning books, the Irish, who were just learning to read and write, took up the great labor of copying all of western literature-everything they could lay their hands on." 

"These scribes then served as conduits through which the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian cultures were transmitted to the tribes of Europe, newly settled amid the rubble and ruined vineyards of the civilization they had overwhelmed. Without this Service of the Scribes, everything that happened subsequently would have been unthinkable." 

"Without the Mission of the Irish Monks, who single-handedly re-founded European civilization throughout the continent in the bays and valleys of their exile, the world that came after them would have been an entirely different one--a world without books. And our own world would never have come to be."

Below are some resources for you to use in your home or in your classroom.

Resources:

What is Religious Freedom Day? - Teaching Without Fear, Part 19

Each year since 1993, the President declares January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” and calls upon Americans to “observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship.” It’s not the day you get to have religious freedom! It’s a day to celebrate the freedom we have year ‘round.

It’s the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom. Thomas Jefferson drafted the legislation and considered it one of his greatest achievements. It protected the rights of people to express their religious beliefs without suffering discrimination and it influenced how the First Amendment was written just three years later.

It’s a great opportunity for students to learn a civics lesson about their religious freedom at school. Ask your school to recognize the Day, and have teachers give students a list of their freedoms to express their faith in class.

For more information on Religious Freedom Day and the list of freedoms students have, click on the link below.

Resources:

ReligiousFreedomDay.com

Christmas & Religious Freedom - Teaching Without Fear, Part 18

How have your local schools recognized Christmas this year? Did students learn about the birth - and life - of Jesus? Were they allowed to say "Merry Christmas" and give out Christmas cards in class? Could they talk about their faith in Jesus? Or, did the school censor the religious aspects of the holiday and suppress students' freedom of expression?

If your schools did the latter, I have good news. There's a special day coming in January that could help solve the problem. Every year since 1993, the President - whether Democrat or Republican - declares January 16th to be "Religious Freedom Day."

It's a day to learn about and celebrate the freedom of religious expression protected by the First Amendment. It's a great opportunity for students to learn a civics lesson about their religious freedom at school. AND, it's a great way for educators and school administrators to learn that students DO have the freedom to express their faith in class.

The U.S. Department of Education has clarified students' religious freedoms. We've created a pamphlet that quotes right from their document and you can distribute them in your church and in your schools. To get the pamphlets, click on the link below.

Resources:

Free to Speak pamphlets

www.ReligiousFreedomDay.com

Acknowledging Christmas in Public Schools - Teaching Without Fear, Part 17

Did you know the Supreme Court assumes public school children are singing traditional Christmas carols at school? That’s right! Many teachers think it’s unconstitutional to sing carols like Silent Night or Away in a Manger, but it’s not.

In the case of Lynch v. Donnelly, dealing with the public display of a nativity scene (which the Court said was fine), it stated the following:

“To forbid the use of this one passive symbol while hymns and carols are sung and played in public places including schools…would be an overreaction contrary to this Nation’s history and this Court’s holdings.”

If you would like a more information about teaching the religious aspects of Christmas in public schools, click on the link below.

Resources:

Gateways Christmas Resources

 

Teaching About Christmas in Public Schools - Teaching Without Fear, Part 16

 How should you talk about Christmas in a public school? Here are three things I suggest:

  1. Use the term “recognizing Christmas” rather than “celebrating Christmas.” Using the word celebrate may cause some people to feel that you are promoting religious participation in the holiday. There is a difference between participating in the holiday in a devotional manner and recognizing the holiday in an engaging and enjoyable academic manner.

  2. It is also best to teach about Christmas using words of attribution such as: “Christians believe...;” “The Bible says...;” “Christmas is special for Christians because...;” and so forth. In other words, can someone who is not a Christian agree with you: “Yes, Christians believe. Yes, this is what the Biblical story says…”

  3. If you read the story of the birth of Jesus to students, emphasize that you are doing it so they understand this event which has inspired so much music, art, and literature. When students become familiar with the story of the birth and life of Jesus they gain a basic academic familiarity with a person who has influenced so many people throughout history in government, art, literature, music, and social movements.

If you would like a list of lesson plan ideas for teaching about the religious aspects of Christmas in public schools, click on the link below.

Resources:

Christmas in Your School