Monday, November 21, 2005

God And Man In Public Schools: A Different Viewpoint

An OP/ED piece by Charles C. Hayne in USA TODAY says the argument that religion is being eliminated from the schools simply isn't true:
Attacks on the "Godless public schools" have been at the top of the culture-war hit list for more than 40 years. Hardly a day goes by without some politician or televangelist reminding Americans of how the Supreme Court kicked God out of the schools in the 1960s -- and how the nation has been sliding down a slippery slope of moral and spiritual decline ever since.

The banishment of the Deity from the classroom is a compelling story that plays well in a nation where millions of citizens take their faith seriously. There's only one problem:

It isn't true.

Yes, 20 years ago many public schools did come close to being religion-free zones. In the wake of the controversial court decisions banning state-sponsored religious practices, some school officials overreacted by trying to keep all religion out. Textbooks largely ignored religion, and teachers were hesitant to teach about it. Administrators mistakenly confused student speech with government speech and told kids to leave their religion at the schoolhouse door.

But that was 20 years ago. Today, most state standards and textbooks include considerable mention of religion; student religious clubs meet on hundreds, if not thousands, of high school campuses; the sight of Christian students praying around the flagpole or in the lunchroom is not uncommon; and Muslim students are routinely given a free room to perform daily prayers.
There is much more to the whole piece.

Interestingly, Hayne fails to mention the hotly debated question of whether Intelligent Design will be taught in public school classrooms.
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