It is 65 years since the Supreme Court of the United States of America handed down, in Everson v. Board of Education, the ruling that local public school districts could not provide services to parochial schools. The court based its decision on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. This was not much of a stretch to get federal power involved in local government. The stretch was claiming the First Amendment somehow declared a “wall of separation between church and state.” Addressing religion, here is what the First Amendment actually says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Complying with the “wall of separation” demand required a change of mindset for public school boards towards parochial schools from cooperative to, as it turned out, antagonistic. More than that, a “wall of separation” led to the view that the “wall of separation” was not between church and state but instead between God and government. By 1960, lawsuits were working through the courts demanding enforcement of the “wall of separation” provision. In 1962 the Supreme Court heard Engle v. Vitale on school prayer and then in 1963, broadening the prohibition against prayer in school, the Court handed down Arlington School District v. Schempp. But this decision also outlawed reading the bible in school. Here are the two decisions in summary:
Engle v. Vitale: “Because of the prohibition of the First Amendment against the enactment of any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” which is made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, state officials may not compose an official state prayer and require that it be recited in the public schools of the State at the beginning of each school day — even if the prayer is denominationally neutral and pupils who wish to do so may remain silent or be excused from the room while the prayer is being recited. Pp. 422-436.”
Abington School District v. Schempp: Because of the prohibition of the First Amendment against the enactment by Congress of any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” which is made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, no state law or school board may require that passages from the Bible be read or that the Lord’s Prayer be recited in the public schools of a State at the beginning of each school day — even if individual students may be excused from attending or participating in such exercises upon written request of their parents. Pp. 205-227.
Some pay more attention than others, but we all know how far we slid down that 75 year slippery slope. For example, now the Oakland (CA) school district, as an anti-bullying measure, is (started last year) installing a “Gender Diversity” program, beginning in kindergarten, teaching that sexual identity is a multiple choice spectrum available to all. It seems there is chronic bulling in schools in the 21st Century that seems to require lessons in sensitivity towards homosexuals. Let us note that in 1947 and 1963 bullying was never an issue. Schools in 1947 (when I was an elementary pupil) and 1962 (when I was a high school teacher) had God (His presence) but didn’t have government, didn’t have bullying and didn’t see diversity as an American principle. The 21st Century schools are an organic part of the government and God has been barred for nearly three generations. Now, we have bullying problems and gender diversity solutions instituted that may have landed an administrator in treatment for the insane in 1947. Learn the story at Oakland here.
It seems clear a fundamental task ahead is to get God back into the learning experience and get government out. Check out my post tomorrow on that.