"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country." Twenty-Two words that changed the course of history. Or should I say, the elimination of those words.
In the 1962 Engel vs. Vitale decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that this prayer was unconstitutional for our public school system, which means that it was contrary to the holdings of the Founding Fathers. They said, "A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion." However, quotes from those same founders deny their conclusion:
"Religion.... is the basis and foundation of Government." James Madison
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams
"True religion affords to government its surest support." George Washington
"Religion and virtue are the only foundations.... of republicanism and of all free government." John Adams
"God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both." John Witherspoon
"The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws...All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible." Noah Webster
"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity." John Quincy Adams
Since that memorable date, the Supreme Court has eliminated Bible reading, meal prayers, silent meditation, and the Ten Commandments. The same Ten Commandments that are posted on the walls of the Court's chambers (they also recently refused to allow a Georgia Court to display them in their chambers).
The Supreme Court of 1962 set a course in American history which ultimately acquiesced to Noah Webster's warning, "The principles of all genuine liberty and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer."
In 1989, after much suffering as a nation, the court recognized that students don't shed their first amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate, and allowed them, through the Mergens vs. Westside decision, to conduct student initiated and student led Bible Clubs on the secondary school campus.
Then in the Lee vs. Weisman decision, the court prohibited state led and state initiated prayer and ruled in favor again, of student led and student initiated prayer at school sponsored events.
Now that the courts are recognizing the student's right to free speech, there are many options available to usher back in to the public schools, that which once was:
BIBLE CURRICULUM: The National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools is a North Carolina based organization which offers a certified Bible course that can be used as an elective. In the Abington School District vs. Schempp decision of 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Scripture used for Devotional purposes, yet stated that the Bible is "worth study for its literary and historic qualities." The course equips the student "with a fundamental understanding of the important literary forms contained in the Bible as well as people and symbols often referred to in literature, art and music......with the understanding of the influence of the Bible on history, law, American community life, and culture.......insight into the world views of America's founding fathers......provide greater knowledge of Middle-Eastern history, geography, religion, and politics.......to inform the students of the importance of religion in the world and national history, without imposing the doctrine of any particular sect."
RELEASED TIME: Released Time allows the students to go off campus (to a nearby church, etc.) to receive religious instruction during school hours. In light of the results incurred from stripping our education system of all religious teaching, parents are seeking other ways in which to instill morals and values in their children during their school day. They not only learn biblical principles, they also learn how to deal with peer pressure, drugs, sex outside of marriage, etc. Released Time was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1952, Zorach vs Clauson decision. They wrote, "When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs." It was very popular during the 50s and 60s. Then interest waned and the classes were dropped. However, they're picking up momentum once again, with 120 Released Time programs, and 250,000 students (over half of which do not attend church) currently attending.
ISSUES AND ANSWERS NEWSPAPERS: This newspaper is jam packed full of material of interest to junior and high schoolers. It covers a variety of topics including abstinence, AIDS, abortion, drugs, homosexuality, self worth, creation science, influences of rock music, movies, evidences of the resurrection of Jesus, Founding Fathers viewpoints, and much, much, more. It is a dynamic newspaper/tract that can be legally distributed by Christian students and Bible Club members to fellow classmates, before and after school, during lunch, and between classes. The newspapers can be funded by local churches on a monthly basis (100 copies / $25.00). It's also a great way to invite students to the Bible Club.
These are just a few of the ways to escort God back into the desolate government education system. And pray for the day, that all of America's schools will once again recognize the sublime truth behind the founding declaration of Princeton University: Cursed be all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ!
Bible Curriculum In Public Schools
Greensboro, NC 27429
National Association for Released Time
P.O. Box K
Ellijay, GA 30540
Caleb Campaign Issues & Answers
Rt. 4, Box 274
West Frankfort, IL 62896