Religious Liberties

We were shocked by what the pastor said

Kim and I were recently at a pastors' conference in Washington, DC, to talk to them about the important role they play in helping their local public schools become faith-friendly.  One pastor told us of an all-too-common incident in the life of one of the children in his church. An elementary school teacher told the student she couldn't write about Jesus. There was nothing particularly shocking about this. We hear stories all the time about teachers who mistakenly think their classrooms have to be "religion-free zones."

What shocked us was what the pastor said next.

"Everyone in our church assumed the teacher was right," he explained. "We didn't know any different."

He was delighted to learn that the teacher was wrong -- that the child does, indeed, have freedom of religious expression at school. He was thrilled to receive Gateways' Free to Speak pamphlet quoting the U.S. Department of Education regarding students' religious liberties. And we also counseled him on how to approach the teacher in a positive way.

This conversation is a good example of just how important it is that our churches understand the truth about religious and academic freedom regarding the Bible and Christianity in public schools.

That is why I urge you to bring Gateways' seminars for educators and parents to your area. On a Saturday morning, we will present "Faith, Freedom & Public Schools" to teachers and school leaders. That same weekend we will also present our seminar for parents, "Keeping Their Faith in Public Schools: How to help your children graduate with their faith and values intact".

Help the Schools in Your Community

At the educators' seminar teachers and school leaders will learn what the law REALLY says about including the Bible and Christianity in their classrooms. They'll also learn specific strategies to teach about these topics appropriately and within state and federal guidelines. In my experience, teachers' jaws drop as they realize how misinformed they have been. They are delighted to learn specific ways to teach about the importance of America's Christian heritage.

At the parent seminar parents will learn about their children's religious freedoms, the five criteria for knowing if they should remove their child from a classroom activity, how to talk to a teacher about a concern, and how to teach their children to be discerning about what they are learning.  

To find out more about bringing the seminars to your community, call (800) 929-1163 or email info@gtbe.org.

RESOURCES --------------------------------------------------

Information about the seminar "Faith, Freedom & Public Schools"

Current schedule and location of events

 

 

AP History Under Fire

national_association_of_scholarsIn early April 2015, an informal group of academic historians met to discuss concerns about the College Board’s recent overhaul of its Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) standards. That group decided to draft a public letter opposing the new standards: "The teaching of American history in our schools faces a grave new risk, from an unexpected source. Half a million students each year take the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in U.S. History. The framework for that exam has been dramatically changed, in ways certain to have negative consequences." 

To read the rest of the letter click on the link: http://www.nas.org/images/documents/Historians_Statement.pdf

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.

READ MORE...

Teaching Religious Freedom in Public School

By Kim Trobee (Citizenlink.com) Administrators and teachers around the country will be teaching students about religious freedom on January 16th. Every year since 1993, the president of the United States has issued a proclamation recognizing Religious Freedom Day.

The Department of Education has released and updated guidelines for educators, but most teachers have no idea there is such a day, let alone that they can teach their students about their Constitutional freedom of religion.

Gateways to Better Education has taken the DOE guidelines and created resources for administrators, teachers, parents and students on their rights when it comes to celebrating Religious Freedom Day.

READ MORE...

Atheists Demand School Remove Painting -- and School Officials Stand their Ground

A painting on display in an Oklahoma middle school's main office has caught the ire of atheist activists who are demanding that officials immediately remove it, reports Billy Hallowell at The Blaze. Hallowell reports:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist activist group, sent a letter to district officials on August 25 complaining over the image, which features children praying in front of an American flag.

The poster, based on a painting titled "Faith in America" by artist Donald Zolan, has been hanging in Kenneth Cooper Middle School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for nearly two decades. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation claims it violates the U.S. Constitution.

The district, though, doesn't appear to be budging.

Hurrah for the school officials! But of course, the atheists won't go away quietly. Their attorney is claiming that merely having the painting in the school office means that students are "forced into regular contact" with it and "coercion is virtually assumed." Coercion to do what?

Under the picture of the children praying against a background of the American flag, are the words, "Faith in America." The atheists should be grateful that school officials haven't acted on Oklahoma Law 70-24-106.1 and substituted "Faith in America" with the words of the national motto, "IN GOD WE TRUST."

School officials would be acting in accordance with Oklahoma Law which states:

"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'."

In fact, the folks at the Freedom From Religion Foundation should be grateful that school officials haven't acted on that law and placed the national motto in every classroom in every school in every school district in the state. (But, maybe people across Oklahoma will blog to their school officials and recommend it!)

Other Ways to Look at the Message of the Painting

Reflecting Oklahoma's Constitution These atheist activists choose to look at the painting as some kind of constitutional violation. However, it could also be viewed as an artistic representation of Oklahoma law. For instance, maybe the children in the painting are simply portraying the first six words of the Preamble to the Oklahoma Constitution, and are "invoking the guidance of Almighty God." Maybe school officials should post those words under the painting and attribute them to their state constitution.

Expressing a Civics Lesson Maybe the painting is a visual civics lesson on the liberties of students protected by Oklahoma Law 70-11-101.1 which requires:

"The board of education of each school district shall permit those students and teachers who wish to do so to participate in voluntary prayer."

Depicting an Academic Standard Maybe the painting is depicting the children complying with the Oklahoma academic standard for first graders regarding Citizenship Literacy that expects children to sing My Country 'Tis of Thee which includes the lyrics:

"Our father's God to, Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom's holy light; Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!"

Portraying Oklahoma's "Moment of Silence" Law Maybe the painting is simply a portrait of school children complying with Oklahoma Law 70-11-101.2 which requires that:

"The board of education of each school district shall ensure that the public schools within the district observe approximately one minute of silence each day for the purpose of allowing each student, in the exercise of his or her individual choice, to reflect, meditate, pray, or engage in any other silent activity that does not interfere with, distract, or impede other students in the exercise of their individual choices."

While atheists assert that the painting endorses religion, others can look at the painting as depicting school children acting in accordance with Oklahoma state laws and academic standards.

The offended atheists should thank their lucky stars (or whatever they offer thanks to) that most Oklahoma educators aren't familiar with just how much they CAN legally do to make their schools faith-friendly places.

As educators learn all the things they can do in their classrooms, they will move from fear of atheist threats to academic and religious freedom. And in the process they will create a better future for their students. 

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Gateways to Better Education's mission is to create a better future for our children by keeping God in our schools. We help public schools become places where students feel the freedom to express their faith and where they gain an academic appreciation for the Bible and Christianity across the whole curriculum as it relates to history, culture, and values. We show educators how to do this legally and appropriately within existing constitutional boundaries and in keeping with current laws and state standards. 

RESOURCES:

To find out if your state has similar laws, visit www.gtbe.org/report.

If you'd like to clear up the confusion and misinformation about the "separation of church and state" in your school district, visit www.gtbe.org.

UPCOMING GATEWAYS EVENTS:

CLICK HERE to see the cities where we are conducting our seminars this fall.

To bring our seminar "Faith, Freedom & Public Schools" to your community, CLICK HERE.