Church And School

Even when they get it right, they get it wrong. You've heard me complain about God in public schools before (Intelligent Design And Its Unintelligent Proponents). The Smoking Gun posted court documents regarding a school which prohibited the use of documents referring to God. The problem: the documents include American historical texts such as the Declaration of Independence and a speech of sitting president George II proclaiming a National Day of Prayer.

School Bars Declaration of Independence

The court filings posted to the Smoking Gun are for a lawsuit launched by teacher Stephen J Williams against Stevens Creek School, the District, and the Board. Williams seeks "declaratory relief, injunctive relief, nominal damages, costs and attorneys' fees." Seems reasonable. No similar restrictions regarding supplementary handouts were imposed upon his colleagues.

Granted, Williams is a self-stated orthodox Christian (para 50), and his focus on the role of belief in God in the founding of the nation may be a bit skewed. But you can't deny the references to God in the lives of the founding fathers or the establishment of the United States. Nor does Williams' lesson plan seem exclusively concerned with such references. Paragraph 43 alleges that only "five percent of all Mr Williams' supplemental handouts [...] contain references to God or Christianity." He also explains religious holidays like Ramadan, Hanakah, Diwali, and Chinese New Year.

Does God have a place in schools? I think the California Education Code (sec 51511, quoted in para 60) states that role eloquently:
"Nothing in this code shall be construed to prevent, or exclude from the public schools, references to religion [...] when such references or uses do not constitute instruction in religious principles or aid to any religious sect [...] and when such references or uses are incidental to or illustrative of matters properly included in the course of study."

Sometimes principals are cowed by overzealous parents to curb appropriate educational content. To wit, the challenge to including evolution in the biology curriculum. The injunctions Williams experienced apparently stemmed from a single parent complaint (para 36). While God has no place in biology class, He does have a place in history. To deny that is just as narrow-minded as creationists denying evolution.

No comments: