Supreme Court

Atheist Group Sues to Impose Its Values on Others

The atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently attacked a South Carolina school board for opening its meetings with an invocation. They find it unacceptable that a group of elected officials begin their meetings with an invocation like the one board member Beth Watson recently offered: "Our Creator and Sustainer, we pray for the health and well-being of our students and their families. We pray for all our employees who work so hard on behalf of all our students." However, the school board's prayer is in keeping with the practice established by Congress and upheld by the courts, and reflects the sentiment of South Carolina's constitution which begins "grateful to God for our liberties."

Our friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom have written an excellent defense of the practice of public meetings opening with prayer. Attorneys Brett Harvey and David Cortman remind us that:

The central case on this subject is Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), where the Court approved the Nebraska Legislature’s practice of opening each day of its sessions with a prayer by a chaplain paid with taxpayer dollars. Marsh has been repeatedly mischaracterized by some advocacy groups in recent months, but its holding is clear. In Marsh, Chief Justice Burger concluded:

The opening of sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.

In fact, the Court noted that agreement was reached on the final language of the Bill of Rights on September 25, 1789, just three days after Congress authorized opening prayers by paid chaplains. Clearly then, “To invoke divine guidance on a public body . . . is not, in these circumstances, an ‘establishment’ of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.”

We need to keep in mind that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is not some benign group that merely wants to maintain what it thinks should be a separation of Church and State. FFRF is an aggressively anti-religious organization that sees religion as a threat to civilization. For instance, it characterizes the Ten Commandments as epitomizing "the childishness, the vindictiveness, the sexism, the inflexibility and the inadequacies of the bible as a book of morals." It encourages people to abandon their faith and its website offers a "DeBaptismal Certificate" which states "I categorically reject the creeds, dogmas, and superstitions of my former religion."

President George Washington in his Farewell Address on September 19, 1796 urged the nation:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."

Thomas Jefferson, whose statement about a separation of Church and State atheists love to misinterpret, gave America this warning (which is carved into his memorial in Washington, D.C.):

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"

Make no mistake, Atheists groups like FFRF do not want to merely preserve a so-called separation of Church and State. They want to remake America into something that the Founders never intended, and which, as they warned, will destroy the fabric and freedom of the nation.

Why "Under God" Must Remain in the Pledge of Allegiance

This Wednesday (Sept. 4), Massachusetts’ highest court will consider the constitutionality of having students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The practice is being challenged by an anonymous atheist couple who object to the words “under God” in the Pledge. The clamor by some people about this acknowledgement of God stems from a misunderstanding of why the phrase is so important to the American concept of government. Here are five reasons why “under God” must remain in the Pledge of Allegiance:

1. Thomas Jefferson explained why being "one Nation under God" is important.  Thomas Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers understood that the government does not give us our freedom. Our freedom comes from God, and the government was established to protect that God-given freedom. That was their justification for the American Revolution as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote: 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government laying its foundation on such principles…"

No king or emperor, no president or congress, no court or crowd gives us our rights. They come from God himself and are unalienable. And the Founders built America's "foundation on such principles."

2. Abraham Lincoln explained why being "one Nation under God" is important.

Abraham Lincoln understood that the nation's unity and freedom depended upon being one nation under God. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln used the exact phrase, "nation, under God," echoed in the Pledge of Allegiance. He began his address by referring to the Founding Fathers' foundation in God-given rights:

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

As Lincoln closes his remarks honoring the fallen soldiers at Gettysburg, he offered this inspiring vision:

"...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." (emphasis added)

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained why being “one Nation under God” is important.

Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech reflects his ideals rooted in the Founders’ belief that our rights come from God. King relied on the Declaration of Independence’s reference to the Creator when he said:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'"

In every century of American history, arguably the most significant document or speech of that century references the rights of Americans being derived from our Creator: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence in the 18th century, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in the 19th century, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech in the 20th century.

4. It doesn't matter that the phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge in the 1950s.

Some people argue that "under God" was not in the original Pledge and was inserted over 50 years later. But, that only proves it took over 50 years to get it right!

5. The phrase "under God" does not make the Pledge a prayer.

Some people argue that "under God" is a form of prayer, and thus it is unconstitutional to have schoolchildren recite it. However, a careful reading of the Pledge of Allegiance reveals that we are not pledging allegiance to God. We are, instead, pledging allegiance to a republic. The Pledge describes the republic as one nation under God and indivisible. In other words, it is a statement of fact. It is a fact that our Founders established our government on the proposition that freedom comes from God, not the state.

As Jefferson, Lincoln, and King attest, the American people's freedom--the freedom of your neighbors, your co-workers, your children, and their teachers, are because we are one nation under God. Take that principle away, remove it from our national consciousness, and we will lose the very basis for the freedoms we so easily take for granted.

Thomas Jefferson warned of the dire consequences of forgetting this important principle. On the Jefferson memorial his warning is carved:

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

Lincoln said it well, "Now we are in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

In this war of ideas, people will not defend what they do not cherish, and they will not cherish what they do not understand.

Oklahoma & Ten Commandments

Last week, the local school board of Muldrow, OK, reluctantly decided that plaques of the Ten Commandments posted in its high school’s classrooms had to be removed. They did this in order to avoid a lawsuit threatened by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.



Leading up to the pivotal school board meeting, people made T-shirts and posters declaring their support for the plaques. The local paper reported that the board president Scott Chambers, emotionally told the crowd at the school board meeting that the plaques had to come down. Parents, teachers, and residents were outraged and disappointed over the decision.


But, I have good news regarding how to turn this seemingly negative situation into a positive opportunity. At Gateways to Better Education, we encourage people to see the actions of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation as an opportunity to unify the community. From that unity and passion, people can then advocate for substantive improvement in what is taught.
 
Symbolism such as plaques can be wonderful. But, given the choice between symbolism and substance, I’ll take substance any day.


For example, Oklahoma has 170,000 high school students. Most people don’t know that ALL OF THEM are expected to learn about the Bible and its impact on Western civilization.


Oklahoma’s academic standardsinclude at least three standards providing the opportunity for its students to learn about the Ten Commandments:

“Cite specific textual and visual evidence and compare points of view to examine the philosophical contributions of the Enlightenment including the writings of Montesquieu, Locke, and Thomas Jefferson; the early experiences of colonial self-government; and the influence of religious texts including The Bible to the foundation of American political thought.”

“Examine the origins, traditions, beliefs, and impact of Judaism on ancient and modern societies including the religious concept of monotheism and its influence into the modern eras.”

“Summarize the impact of the world’s major religions of Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism on modern societies.”

In addition to this, Oklahoma has two laws that support teaching students about the Ten Commandments, the Bible, and the influence of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

§70‑11‑101. Sectarian or religious doctrines ‑ Forbidden to be taught in schools. No sectarian or religious doctrine shall be taught or inculcated in any of the public schools of this state, but nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the reading of the Holy Scriptures. (Laws 1971, c. 281, Section 11‑101. Eff. July 2, 1971.)

 

§70-24-106.1. Classroom display - Motto of the United States of America. Principals and teachers in each public elementary and secondary school of each school district in this state may display in each classroom, school auditorium, and school cafeteria under their supervision the following motto of the United States of America: "E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of Many One)" and "IN GOD WE TRUST". For purposes of this section, "classroom" means any room of a public school where instruction takes place. (Added by Laws 2004, c. 197, § 4, eff. July 1, 2004.  Amended by Laws 2009, c. 100, § 1, eff. July 1, 2009.)

HERE'S MY CALL TO ACTION: Every church leader, parent, and educator in Oklahoma needs to make sure their local schools are actually teaching what is already expected regarding the Bible and Christianity. That's where Gateways can help. In my experience, too many educators don't know these standards exist and, if they do, they don't know how to implement them with confidence.

Gateways to Better Education offers a professional development seminar that equips public school teachers, in every state, how to legally and appropriately teach about the Bible and Christianity across the curriculum. Click on the link for more information on bringing Faith, Freedom & Public Schools to your community.

Public Schools and Christmas

What can I do about Christmas? Here are answer teachers often ask themselves.

As the holidays approach, many educators assume it is illegal to teach the religious aspects of Christmas. Many want to teach about Christmas but are afraid to do so. Their fear usually stems from complaints they have had (or think they will have) from parents, administrators, or colleagues.

However, schools and teachers can teach about the religious aspects of holidays as an important part of learning about American culture.

READ MORE...

Barry Lynn Bullies Children at Christmas

Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, is bullying children in a school district to shut them up.
In Tuscumbia, Alabama (population 8,734), the children in the local elementary school will be singing "Silent Night" as part of their Christmas program. That is too much for Lynn and his radical leftist gang. They are threatening the school district with a lawsuit in order to censor the song.
A local news station quoted Lynn as saying...(read complete article)