“For the first [over three centuries] of this country’s history, religion and education were intimate and interdependent. Religious competition does stir controversy, but religious freedom enriches rather than impoverishes public policy and the education process” (Edward Scott Gaustad, A Religious History of America, Harper and Row, 1966, page 372. Gaustad was a professor of history at the University of California, Riverside). We know this as fact.
When our country was just beginning, the focus of our leaders and our citizens was upon the conspicuously self-evident Laws of Nature and of nature’s God. It is the governing character of these principles (laws), such as the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, which led to success. This is the foundation upon which man’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness rests. It reflects the impartial and divine element that frees man to do what is right.
At President Lincoln’s inauguration, he took the oath of office and then spoke to thousands of spectators standing on the Capitol grounds. A portion of that message is carved in granite on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial. He emphasized God fourteen times and quoted the Bible twice. Lincoln concluded by saying, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…” Lincoln’s message fills the education gap of our day. Wisdom from the Bible enables liberty to prevail over secularism, because it is both foundational and practical.
Pat Henderson, superintendent of the Lubbock, Texas Cooper Independent School District, and other leaders are successfully putting the God of our American Judeo-Christian heritage back into the public school house. After publicly soliciting citizen opinions, another school board out of Ames, Iowa, now requires freedom for students to share their views when the subject of religion comes up. Share this with your School Board. When are student opinions about religious matters appropriately shared in the classroom? It is when the subject of religion comes up in class. If this idea, so vital to education, is administered in a way acceptable to conservative parents, it could encourage a nationwide trend that would keep public schools from rapid decline.
Restoring religious liberty to the classroom may require special administrator and capable teacher cooperation. Student discussions can be governed by insisting that the three distinctives which apply to both God-honoring and God-rejecting religions be the guidelines for student input. The three strongly held distinctives are the origin, meaning and purpose of life. It may be best for the teacher to solicit classroom responses to one of the three characteristics of religion at a time. All students who may be involved should be introduced to these three distinctives for discussion so they can think them through beforehand and be prepared. Some students may deviate from the three points for discussion, but others would notice and might comment. Teachers should also encourage the students to be positive, “My religion does not say _______________, it says _______________.” Learning will be aided by known civil and health benefits associated with the historic family and local community norms.
The education gap caused by the absence of Higher Authority Common Law Ten Commandments and Golden Rule is destroying American foundations. The existence of life is miraculous, but perishable when abused. In other words, justice is not idle. Knowledge of right and wrong comes from man’s God-given conscience, knowledge of the Creator-based Declaration of Independence, the Bill of (unalienable citizen) Rights and truth about history. (Suggested reading—John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, Baker Books, 1987, and Benjamin Hart, Faith and Freedom, Lewis and Stanley, 1988.)
~ D. Norris