The War in Our Public Schools

Discrimination against Christians and the suppression of Christian religious expression pervade our society, and its perpetrators are legion. This survey begins by examining our country's education system, for two reasons. First, modern misinterpretations of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause-"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"-are often rooted in Everson v. Board of Education,1 1947 Supreme Court case dealing with public funds and education. Second, because education plays such an important role in shaping children's values and worldviews, it greatly influences the character and future of our society. Today's social engineers recognize this, which is why they have tried to convert our public school classrooms into laboratories for social transformation.

The anti-Christian tenor of these social engineers after World War II and especially since the 1960s represents a dramatic change in American history. Most Americans would probably be shocked to discover the dominant influence of Christianity in America's colonial culture and schools, where the Bible was routinely used as a textbook.

Before some of you panic, be assured that this book does not advocate a return to a Christian-oriented education in our public schools, though it does encourage educational freedom. The federal education bureaucracy should relax its chokehold on our education system, including its opposition to the school choice and home-schooling movements. But we must understand that when virtually every vestige of Christianity, including its associated values, is meticulously removed from public schools, something has to replace that void. And it has. While the education establishment vigorously opposes the dissemination in schools of any value or belief that can be remotely traced to the Bible, it affirmatively endorses other values that many Christians find repugnant. Public schools are replete with values-laden curricula, from sex education and sexual orientation instruction to notions of self-esteem and death education.

Ideally, the schools should strive for neutrality on matters of religion-at least in expressing a preference for one over the other. But, in reality, our children are often being inculcated with values and attitudes that conflict with or are hostile to Christianity.

There has been a systematic sweeping away of all things Christian from our public schools, combined with a sweeping in of secularism. Chapters One and Two chronicle the elimination of Christian ideas, symbols, activities, and expressions from our public schools. Chapters Three and Four document how educators are not remaining neutral, but are embracing secularism. Chapter Five discusses the anti-Christian and pro-secular biases in American universities.

1 Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

chapter one

Christianity Out, Part 1

CHRISTIAN EXPRESSION IS TREATED as profanity and worse in many public schools and certain federal courts across the nation. In May 1995, Samuel B. Kent, U.S. District judge for the Southern District of Texas, decreed that any student uttering the word "Jesus" would be arrested and incarcerated for six months. Lest you think this was some month-late April Fools' joke, the judge expressly avowed his earnestness in his official order. His ruling stated, in part:

And make no mistake, the court is going to have a United States marshal in attendance at the graduation. If any student offends this court, that student will be summarily arrested and will face up to six months incarceration in the Galveston County Jail for contempt of court. Anyone who thinks I'm kidding about this order better think again . . . . Anyone who violates these orders, no kidding, is going to wish that he or she had died as a child when this court gets through with it.2

In fairness, Judge Kent also prohibited references to other deities. "The prayer," he said, "must not refer to a specific deity by name, whether it be Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, the Great God Sheba or anyone else." But let's not fool ourselves. These kinds of cases almost always involve Christian expression, as this one did. In this case, the school district had allowed students to read overtly Christian prayers. So while the court's language was nominally directed toward prayers of all religions, in reality it was targeted solely at Christian prayer, because it was the only kind at issue.

Don't think the judge's threat of criminal liability was an isolated aberration. A few years ago, Connecticut law enforcement officials threatened to arrest a man for corrupting the morals of a minor if they could prove he passed out religious tracts to a student. Even without threats of prosecution, school officials often bear down forcefully on young Christians. For example, a Vermont kindergartner was forbidden to tell his classmates that God is not dead, because such talk "was not allowed at school." School administration officials at a Kentucky public school told a student he was not permitted to pray or even mention God at school. A teacher in an

Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, The New Tolerance, How a cultural movement threatens to destroy you, your faith, and your children (Wheaton, 1ll: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1998), 53.

elementary school in Florida overheard two of her students talking about their faith in Jesus and rebuked them, not for talking in class, but for talking about Christ in class. In no uncertain terms, she ordered them not to discuss Jesus at school.

Teachers are also sometimes targets of their school's religious discrimination. A school in Edison, New Jersey, reportedly rebuked a substitute teacher for leaving religious literature in the faculty lounge because of its potentially offensive content. Yet the school had allowed other teachers to leave literature trashing the "religious right." A teacher in Los Angeles posted his objection to the school's celebration of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month on the school bulletin board. Other teachers were routinely permitted to post items on the bulletin board without incident, but this teacher's post was removed.

Another teacher was singled out in a Denver elementary school, where the principal removed his Bible from the library and also made him remove his personal Bible from his desk, where he kept it to read during silent time. School officials didn't want that book in the students' sight, so they prohibited the teacher from reading it and made him hide it during the school day even though he never read from it to his students. In Ohio, thanks to the National Education Association (NEA), teachers who requested that their mandatory union dues be paid to a charity rather than the union's politically liberal causes were annually subjected to an invasive questionnaire. "For years the NEA has issued this particular scheme to intimidate and harass teachers of faith who dare to challenge their radical agenda," said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. But this case had a happy ending when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in response to a religious discrimination suit, ordered the NEA to curtail this practice. The NEA and state teachers' unions use this scheme in other states. But when challenged, they usually meet the same fate. That's what happened recently in California. To avoid a religious discrimination action, California Teachers Association officials reluctantly consented to redirect an Arcadia elementary school teacher's monthly union dues to charity because the union's political and social causes were incompatible with her religious beliefs.

Unfortunately, these are not exceptional cases. They are part of a growing pattern involving anti-Christian discrimination in public schools that originated with relatively modern rulings of the United States Supreme Court. Before we examine the modern era, it will be helpful to familiarize ourselves with the history of education in America and how the nation's education framework developed from a private into a public system.3

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