When Erin Shead was told by her teacher to write a paper on an idol she looked up to, Erin wrote about God. “God is my idol, I will never hate him. He will always be the number one person I look up to” wrote the innocent ten year-old. She went on to say, “I also love Jesus.” That little girl had no idea that a simple classroom assignment would create such a stir.
Erin’s teacher at Lucy Elementary in Millington, Tennessee, told her she could not write her paper about God being her idol, and told little Erin the paper could not even remain on school property. When Erin’s mother, Erica Shead, discovered what the teacher had told her daughter she was livid.
Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in Abington School District v. Schempp in 1963, making Madalyn Murray O’Hair a household name, its ruling has been misconstrued. In layman’s terms the High Court said an employee of the government such as a public school teacher in a public school classroom cannot lead her students in prayer or read to them from the Bible. How a college educated teacher can misunderstand that is hard for me to fathom.
So let me break it down for you. This decision only prohibits what a teacher can do. There is nothing in this ruling that prohibits a student from exercising his or her First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. This means if a student wants to take his Bible to school and read it during his free time he can. It means a student is free at appropriate times so say grace over her lunch or pray before taking a test. It has been jokingly said that as long as there are tests there will be prayer in school. It also means if a ten year-old girl is asked to write a paper about her idol, she can write about God.
Here’s another newsflash. A teacher is allowed to bring her Bible to school to read during her free time. She too can thank God for her lunch if she wishes. There is nothing in this ruling that prohibits a teacher from exercising her freedom of religion during her free time at school. The Court only said a teacher cannot lead her students in prayer or read to them from the Bible. For some to say prayer and Bible reading has been taken out of our schools is both untrue and misleading.
There are still concerns. I was reminded just this past week that The Gideons can pass out Bibles to men in prison, but not to children in school. Thanks to another Tennessee controversy, the trial of Thomas Scopes in 1925 in Dayton, educators can now monkey around with science, but cannot teach creation. We can’t teach children they are created in the image of God, but we can teach them they are nothing more than an animal, the random product of a mindless process that began by accident, and called evolution.
Why is the theory of evolution excluded from rigorous scientific investigation? An Ohio State School Board member said, “it is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about science” as she voted to strike language from Ohio State’s science standards that called for students to “investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” If evolution is scientific fact, why do educators want to exclude scientific analysis of the theory? If all the roads of life’s origin and complex diversity leads to the theory of evolution, why are evolutionists saying don’t read the map?
The public schools teach our children they are animals and then complain when they act like one. Those metal detectors you see at public schools are not there to try and prevent a student from smuggling a Bible into school in his book bag. They are there to try and prevent students from bringing guns, knives and pipe bombs to class. We might not be in this situation if we had taught our children they have an image to live up to, and not a lineage to live down.
Has God been expelled from the public classroom? No, you actually cannot keep Him out. He is just being ignored for the most part. But we need to exercise the few freedoms that remain. More freedoms have been lost through indifference and desuetude than have ever been taken away.