God, State Constitutions, and Your Kids

BP - God & State Constitutions By John Stonestreet

God, natural rights, religious freedom -- all great topics, but NOT for public school classrooms, right? Wrong. You can talk about these things in public schools.

Here’s a thought: nearly everyone in America lives in a state that officially acknowledges God.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve taken a look at your own state’s constitution, you’re probably in one of the 45 of our 50 states that officially recognize that (1) there is a God, and (2) that they are thankful to Him for their freedom.


Six Years a Slave

Who was the first person to go on record against slavery? Here’s a little known fact that kids won’t learn in school (unless you change that): according to historian Thomas Cahill, the first person in history to write against slavery was Saint Patrick. Both his Christian faith and experience led him to do it.  Patrick was born in the 4th century to Christian parents who were Roman citizens in Briton. As a boy he was kidnapped and become a slave for six years in Ireland. He prayed daily that God would rescue him, and eventually he escaped and returned home. But he felt God calling him to return to Ireland with the Gospel. 

By the end of his life he had baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and established 300 churches. Within his lifetime, or shortly thereafter, the Irish slave trade ended – the result of a transformed people. St. Patrick’s Day (March 17, the day of his death) is the honoring of a Christian for his missionary work. Unfortunately, the true history of Patrick is seldom told in schools today. But, you can change that simply by telling the real story.


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.

Evolution Advocates Are Furious

Colorado is considering a bill protecting teachers who "help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner any scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in a given course." David Klinghoffer has an interesting article on this: (CLICK HERE)

Teaching the Ten Commandments in VA

Last week in Virginia, a judge reviewed the legality of posting the Ten Commandments in a public school. The Roanoke Times reports that Judge Michael Urbanski has indicated that he will order the case into mediation between the ACLU and the local school board because of the financial cost to the school district.

He suggested a Solomon-like compromise whereby the two sides agree to censor the first four commandments, which are more explicitly religious, and leave the other six commandments.

I have a better idea... [Read the full article]