Religion, the Supreme Court and Public Schools.

If we could bring the signers of the Constitution to the present day and show them the place of religion in public schools they would be flabbergasted.  None of the signers were openly against religion and very few if any were antireligious at all.  Where is it?

The Bill of Rights says two things. The government can’t make any law that forces the citizens to follow any form of worship. It also stops the government from hindering any form of worship. And that includes religious instruction. Usually we call this the right of the citizens to liberty of conscience.

How does this apply to tax supported schools (public education) and what is all the commotion about?

In the past if parents were well off they could hire people to supply religious instruction if they themselves were busy working etc. If not, most of the population were farmers working with their children which meant that during the day, by exemple and by word, they could let them know what was the right way for contact with the eternal. But gradually during the years parents and minors were separated during the day and religion had a smaller and smaller place in public education in contrast to the case in the world outside the school. The reason: people should be able to send their children to school without being told what to think about religion. That is the first part of the first amendment to the constitution. The result has been the mess that exists today, not because people are less religious but because trying to be fair.

But what of the second part liberty of conscience which means the parental responsibility towards their minors to get what they consider is the proper religious instruction.?

I therefore propose that every public school could have a Spiritual Center built close by. How would it be run and financed? A Spiritual Center is simply a building with class rooms for worship and religious instruction to be carried out by reverends, priests and rabbis etc during the schoolday for students in public schools. The instructors will be paid by parents and the religious organizations that want the students to have religious instruction during the school week. The adjustment to the school demands will not be greater than the adjustment for football and the like. If there are not enough who want to follow a particular form of worship it will be up to the parents to cooperate (presbyterians and methodists for ex)

Those who are opposed to worship will have their own presentation of religion.

An Spiritual Center doesn’t have to be there but if there are enough parents who want it they will have to pay for it. (the free exercise of religion again). One way is to do it by fundraising from the public, another by issuing bonds. Labor can also be contributed as part of or instead of money. None of these involves government efforts or tax money. Payment for instruction and upkeep will be collected from the parents. Then the question arises. Is there going to be a money bar for those who can’t afford or will the religious organizations make up the deficit. In other words is religious instruction (or instruction about religion) something only  for the rich or for all children. This is a fundamental question but one for the parents involved and not for the Supreme Court.

The constitution forbids the government to favor one religious expression over another which means using tax money for this purpose. But it also forbids the government from interfering with liberty of conscience. In other words religion in schools is not allowed but religion at schools is.

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One Response to “Religion, the Supreme Court and Public Schools.”

  1. Jnana Hodson Says:

    I suppose I’ve long been troubled by an assumption by those who advocate prayer and religion in the classroom that there’s some generic Christianity everyone will agree on — what they insist was the faith held by the Founding Fathers. Alas, the fallacy.
    Some of the Founding Fathers would have been definitely opposed to the strands of Christianity embraced by their colleagues. The Anglicans of Virginia, for instance, would have seen nothing in common with the Calvinists of New England, much less the Quakers of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island … or the surprisingly tolerant Roman Catholics of Maryland.The feelings were returned on all sides, even before we get to the Deists.
    On the other hand, the ignorance of Biblical references and perspectives in today’s society is equally appalling. Where are schoolchildren to learn of alternatives to the prevalent materialism and its fatalistic assumptions of causality or moral consistency?
    Your suggestion holds a promise of bridging both in a positive advance. I’m all ears.

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