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What are religious people to do when the Supreme Court, the court of
last resort, enforces the legally puritanical view that religious speech
in government schools, at graduation ceremonies, and even at high school
football games is a clear and present danger to the Constitution? When
personal freedoms are being violated by the Supreme Court itself, to
whom can one address an appeal?
The First Amendment is a “Hands Off!” amendment. It tells the
Congress to make “no law respecting an establishment of religion or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof. …” That is the complete
instruction given by the Founders on the subject of religion. Note that
nowhere in the Constitution is to be found the phrase, “separation of
church and state.”
Since the Congress has not proposed, contemplated or passed any law
establishing a state religion, what is the Supreme Court ruling on? For
over 150 years after the Constitution was ratified, children prayed in
schools and teachers were not terrified of using the word “God” in the
classroom. At no time did religious freedom in schools put America in
any danger of becoming a theocracy, nor was the singing of a Christmas
carol considered to constitute such a danger.
Spare me legal sophistry. It is all too clear that the original words
of the First Amendment, and much of the rest of the Constitution, have
been lost in a vast legal jungle, overgrown with judicial prejudices and
heavily thicketed with bad precedents. Jurists and politicians no longer
go back to the original document for guidance but rather to the last
lawyerly violation of it.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist denounced the anti-religious bias of
the majority ruling which recently struck down pre-game prayers at high
school football games. In a minority opinion, he wrote, “Even more
disturbing than its holding is the tone of the court’s opinion; it
bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life.”
This judicial bristling reveals that personal prejudices on the
Supreme Court mirror those which infect the liberally driven mainstream
culture. To the surprise and shock of the entire religious community,
people of faith are no longer held in high esteem. They are tolerated
only so long as they stay in their place and keep their mouths shut.
We have arrived at a time in America when God is viewed as a moral
nag, that is to say, the Ultimate Parent, against whom childish man is
in rebellion. In other words, religion stands between many Americans and
what they want to do and be. As a nation, we are running from eternal
truths in desperate fear that they may overtake us.
John Dewey is widely considered one of the most influential
philosophers of the 20th century. He was widely read and his theories
about the role of religion in the classroom had a significant impact on
the progressive movement in American education.
In an essay, “The Religion vs. The Religious,” Dewey argued that a
belief in the supernatural (his code word for God) was an “encumbrance”
from which we should liberate ourselves. He advocated that traditional
religion be replaced by humanism, which holds that man is alpha and
omega, completely sufficient within himself, in no need of a “higher
While those who teach humanism in government schools insist that it
is merely a secular philosophy, Dewey himself, in his “Humanist
Manifesto I,” describes it as “a philosophical, religious and moral
point of view.”
Humanism is the companion of utopianism, the belief in man’s ability
to achieve a perfect social order. While Christians believe that the key
to man’s salvation occurred two thousand years ago, humanists have faith
that man’s salvation lies just over the horizon in a utopian world.
One of the more frequent arguments used to prohibit the presence of
religious symbols and speech in government schools is that the students
there are captive and as such, must not be forced to see or hear
religious messages with which they do not agree or find offensive.
The belief that government schools are neutral on morality and
religion is extraordinarily naive. Once it becomes clear that government
schools indoctrinate captive students in the tenets and dogma of
humanism to the exclusion of all other religions, it also becomes clear
that the government itself is in the business of establishing a
state-run, religious monopoly.
It is time for the total privatization of schools and the building of
a wall of separation between state and education.