googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: The Separation of Church and State Goes Both Ways

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Separation of Church and State Goes Both Ways

I’m not a fan of the term, “separation of church and state.” I believe it’s a poor paraphrase of the first amendment which actually says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” Even a casual reading of this sentence reveals that the restriction is placed on congress (i.e. “the state”). The purpose of the amendments is to protect individuals from the government – not to build a wall between the two.

Too many people have gotten it all wrong. They believe schools should be void of religion. For example, a while back, I blogged about a student who had her microphone turned off during her valedictorian speak at her graduation. Her offense was that she discussed God too much.

Well, one student wasn’t going to take it anymore. In Santa Ana, CA, one student sued his history teacher after the teacher called the student’s belief in creation “religious, superstitious nonsense.” On Monday, a federal judge found that the teacher had indeed violated the constitutional rights of the student. You can read the Fox News article here.

This should have been a no-brainer. What part of “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” didn’t the teacher understand? If a student has a religious belief, then that’s his religious belief. Teachers are not duty bound nor vested with some supreme authority to correct the “superstitious” beliefs of their students. It doesn’t matter if the teacher believes the student is wrong. It’s not the job of the state to decide which religious beliefs are correct and which aren’t.

I hope this is the start of something. We need more precedents like this. If they want a separation of church and state then they need to learn to keep the state away from the teachings of the church. Let the schools teach evolution in the classroom – but then make the teachers shut up about what the students learn from their parents and their church. The separation of church and state must go both ways.

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