Choice, Not Compulsion: The Proper Place For God In Schools
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:04:18 AM EST

After the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month, we heard the usual din from the intolerant voices of the Religious Right asserting that the violence happened because God is not allowed in public schools.

It's an inaccurate, simplistic and offensive argument. For starters, prayer and other religious activities are not banned from public schools; only school-sponsored or mandated prayer has been declared unconstitutional. There's a world of difference between the two.

The Religious Right's chorus is loud and strident, to be sure. Thankfully, theirs are not the only religious voices out there. More thoughtful commentary is also being heard. Among them is this piece by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan.

"In America our public schools are intended to be religiously neutral," Hamilton observes on his blog. "Our teachers and schools are neither to endorse nor to inhibit religion. I believe this is a very good thing. When my kids were growing up I wanted their teachers to teach them science, reading, math, and history. I also wanted them to care about my kids.  But I did not want my children's public school teachers teaching them religion. That was my job as a parent, and the job of our church, Sunday school, and youth group."

Hamilton also provides a perceptive Christian response to those who argue that God has been expelled from the classroom.

He writes, "We don't need mandatory, non-sectarian prayers read over the loudspeaker to `put God back in schools.' God never left the schools. God is still at work through the hundreds of thousands of gifted teachers and administrators, committed parents, and passionate volunteers who seek to help give our children `a future with hope.'"

I was also struck by the first comment to Hamilton's blog. It comes from John, a young man who says he graduated from a public high school in 2009. John says he never felt he had to hide his faith or that it was hampered in school.

"No, my teachers didn't teach religion, and we didn't have a group prayer to start the day," John writes. "But that didn't matter. My prayer life was dictated by my own sense of spiritual discipline, it didn't need to be required by the school. My religious education came from my parents, my church, and my Bible."

John asserts, "Often times I find those that are claiming that our schools don't allow God, are people who have not been in a public school for many, many years and are misinterpreting what they hear."

I've had the same thought many times. I'm a public school parent, and when I hear the Religious Right talk, the schools they describe sound nothing like the ones I'm familiar with. In the schools my daughter and son have attended, no student has ever been ejected for saying grace over lunch, religion is objectively discussed when it's relevant to the curriculum and plenty of student-run clubs that focus on religious (and non-religious) topics meet during non-instructional time.

Hamilton reminds us there is a place for religion in public education - and that place is governed by principles like equal treatment and non-compulsion. Voluntary school prayer exists, but mandatory school prayer has long been expelled.

Good riddance to it. Under the model Hamilton celebrates, our public schools do what they must in a multi-faith, multi-philosophy society: welcome all young people - be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist or none of the above.

P.S. I noticed that Hamilton earned his undergraduate degree at Oral Roberts University! That just makes his comments all the sweeter.

 




Display:
What a wonderfully sensible man Rev. Hamilton is!  Thank you for sharing this.  When I was in school (in the 60s and 1970s), we didn't talk about religion -- other than in history class or when we read several books of the Bible as literature or supplements to literature.  As Rev. Hamilton stated, if parents wanted their kids to receive religious instruction, they got it through their churches or synagogues.  As for the teachers, we had many who were good, ethical, hardworking people who cared about us kids (and a few kinda weird ones, but, hey, art class, you know.  So the teacher lived on a commune during the summer and wore a cape and a beret -- that just provided authenticity).  These teachers, along with many other adults in my life and the lives of my classmates, stood as role models that were as least as important (and in my case, more important) as religious instruction to the 18 and under crowd.

by coralsea on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 11:48:45 PM EST

Pastor Hamilton is perhaps one of a kind!  But I hope there are others like him.  John Wesley would be proud of him, as I (even though I deserted the protestant faith for the Eastern orthodox one many years ago)  People of faith have to hang together or we might hang separately on a secular gibbet eventually.


by rdrjames on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:59:40 PM EST

This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want...HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!madeira plastica | plastic lumber | Ssangyong | concessionaria hyundaiLy3vX

by dennishobson on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:44:54 AM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Above The Law?: Ala. Chief Jurist Demands No Accountability
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is in legal hot water again and has no one to blame but himself - but, as usual, he......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Thomas More Was No Patron Of Religious Freedom
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is preparing to kick off its annual Fortnight for Freedom. This year the two weeks of......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
Falling Starr
Reports from around the nation are reporting Ken Starr, President of Baylor University, has been fired as head of the Baptist school.  Other stories......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Bluegrass Bonanza: Ky. Theocrat Loses Grip On Statehouse Seat
Political news of late has been dominated by three people - Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They've certainly provided good copy, but......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Political Piety Panned: We Don't Need A 'God's Party'
Every few years, a political pundit comes along and proclaims that the Religious Right is dead or on the verge of dying. I started......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
Trump Campaign Tied To 2nd White Nationalist Party Leader
Even as Donald Trump seeks to tack to the center, and leave behind his earlier, wildly controversial statements on Hispanics and Muslims, mounting evidence......
By Bruce Wilson (4 comments)
Religious Rightism in the Democratic Party has Consequences
Those of us who write about the Religious Right and related matters often find ourselves wishing that we were wrong. Back in 2011 we......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)
No Moore, Please: Ala. Chief Justice May Be Removed From The Bench
Word broke late Friday night that Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, may be on the verge of losing his job......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Road To Nowhere?: Ky. Officials Ramp Up Support For `Ark Park'
Officials in Kentucky have apparently decided that they're willing to endure a large amount of embarrassment if it will bring some mediocre jobs to......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Cruz Super-PAC Head Promotes "Biblical" Slavery For Non-Christians
Since 2013 (and with growing interest, especially since Ted Cruz mounted his bid for the presidency), various authors have sought to address Cruz' ties......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
One Simple Question for Ted Cruz
As the 2016 presidential primary season moves into the media savvy states of New York (April 19) and California (June 7) a question is......
By Frank Cocozzelli (9 comments)
"Dominionism" - Correction Please
Correction Sent to Christianity Today, April 11, 2016 Regarding the article: "Stop Calling Ted Cruz a Dominionist: The Christian candidate's faith influences his platform,......
By Chip Berlet (6 comments)
South Carolina School Continues to Dominate Church-State Decisions
Bob Jones University has a rich history.  It was a launching pad for GOP Presidential candidates until George W. Bush apologized for the visit.......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Privilege, Not Persecution: It's Time For Fundamentalist Christians To Stop Whining
Over the weekend, a movie called "God's Not Dead 2" opened in theaters around the nation. I haven't seen the film and don't intend......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Fifty Catholic Right Leaders Endorse Ted Cruz
The National Catholic Reporter recently reported  that a group of fifty conservative Catholics led by Catholic neocon Robert P. George and former Virginia Attorney......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)

Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (2 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (8 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (3 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (7 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (3 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (3 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (10 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (4 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (9 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.