Separation of Church and State…Myth or Fact?

separationofchurchandstate

I recently read an article in Faith and Family Values, a magazine I receive in the mail from time to time.  I was shocked to find out that most ideas that people have about this “law” are nothing more than myths.  While the ACLU claims that religion has no place in our public schools, parents and students alike have just accepted these false teachings that students cannot express their religious beliefs at school.

So before I tell you what the rights are of a student in the US public school system are…lets take a look at what the law says.  The phrase “separation of church and state” are nowhere to be found in our constitution, our Bill of Rights, or any other of our nation’s founding documents.  It was originally coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802.  His purpose in this letter was to squelch the fears of the Danbury , Connecticut Baptists, and so he told them that this wall had been erected to protect them.  The metaphor was used exclusively to keep the state out of the church’s  business, not to keep the church out of the state’s business.

People assume that separation of church and state means that you can’t do anything in public school that has to do with religion.  I don’t know how many times I have been asked what can we do to get prayer back in schools.  My response has been “I didn’t know prayer was taken out of school.”  The reality is that I am only partially correct.  ORGANIZED prayer HAS been removed from school.  Any student praying during school hours is protected under the first amendment.  The same as a group of students can discuss the latest movies, books, or TV shows, Christian students can publicly pray together, whether in the hallways between classes, or before school, or even for their meals in the lunchroom.  A child can even pray during class time, as long as he is not coerce another student into praying or it doesn’t disrupt the class time teaching.  Likewise, athletic teams can pray before a game or practice as long as the prayer is led by a student.

Last year, the church that my husband and I serve, held a lock in for our youth.  In efforts to increase awareness of our youth group and building a larger group, our youth wanted to hand out fliers to all the kids in middle school and high school in our town.  The school told the kids they were not allowed to do that because it was a religious event and due to “separation of church and state” it was against the law.

Actually students cannot be banned from handing out fliers for a religious event at their church if other students are allowed to distribute fliers for non-school events.  In other words, if a child is allowed to hand out birthday invitations to their friends and classmates, Christian students MUST be permitted to hand out invitations to a religious youth event.

Twenty years ago I received a call from the school that I needed to bring a change of clothes to my daughter at the school.  When I asked if she had had an accident, the reply was no she just needs a different shirt.  I asked what happened and the principal said “well her shirt has a religious saying on it and due to “separation of church and state” we cannot allow her to wear it.  I was upset but agreed to abide by what they said.  I arrived at the school to see a child in the same grade as my daughter in the office, apparent that he was in trouble, and he had a Kiss (the rock band) t-shirt on.  It had the made up faces of the rock band and blood was coming out of their eyes and dripping from their mouths, very offensive to me especially on a 1st graders shirt.  When I inquired about the offensiveness of it, they said it was not forbidden.  I asked then why my child’s shirt was.  “It might offend someone of a different religion.”  “Well what if I don’t like rock music?” was my reply.  A few minutes of arguing and quoting the law to them, needless to say my daughter kept her shirt on the rest of the day and I never heard another thing about it.  A school cannot “forbid” a student to wear a religious article of clothing, unless it is in direct violation with a standard dress code.  (i.e. everyone has to wear the same style or color of clothing as part of a school uniform.

Students are also permitted to talk about their faith during instructional time.  He/she has the right to incorporate their religious beliefs into classroom discussions and assignments.  AS long as the expression is relevant to the subject under consideration and meets the requirements of the assignment.  For example, if a lesson is planned on evolution, a student IS allowed to speak up against that particular theory and express their belief in creation.  If the assignment is to write an essay on a historical figure, they must be permitted to write his paper on the life of Christ since his selected topic clearly meets the requirements of the assignment.

So if your children attend public school, not to fear the dreaded “separation of church and state” clause.  It is a public demon driven by a public that refuses to follow God.  It flees at the presence of even a little light.  And if a teacher or school official tells your children that they can’t share their Christian faith at school, I am told you can contact the Alliance Defense Fund at 1-800-TELLADF or go to telladf.org.

Reason 796 to home-school your child.  You can teach them all the Godly principles you want to and not have to fight to do it.  By the way, I home-schooled my youngest daughter from the 4th grade clear through her senior year and this year she starts her sophmore year in college.  She says she would not have gone back to public school if they paid her to go.

Way to serve the Lord kiddo!

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5 thoughts on “Separation of Church and State…Myth or Fact?

  1. Amen! Great post and very true! I love the line, “It flees at the presence of even a little light.” I always say keep adding more light and the darkness will go away. Keep adding Jesus and his Word into your life and the darkness in your life will just fall away.

    In His Constant Care,
    Barbara

  2. Good article. You make a good case that religion has not been kicked out of our public schools. All that is asked is respect for all students who may not be of the same religion. The effect of separation of church and state on our schools is that schools must remain neutral with respect to religion in fairness to all students. It’s important as a caring society that we do not marginalize minority religious beliefs – kids are so sensitive to feeling left out. While kids can take part in all kinds of religious activities in school they just can’t push their religion on other kids which seems reasonable to me.

    Your solution for not agreeing with how our public schools deal with religion is excellent – home school your children or have them go to a sectarian school that you believe in.

    • Amen! I do want to point out that while not alienating children in reference to their religion, we also need to keep pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, by telling others about the saving relationship that God has offered to us through His son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. I do believe this can be done with care and compassion, however if we give in to the world’s way and don’t spread the Gospel of Jesus…we are not doing what God has commanded us to do.

      Again…this is why I chose to homeschool my children.

      Thanks for your kind words.
      Jeannie

      • Jeannie,

        You seem like a loving and concerned person and parent and I hope what I say won’t be taken too offensively.

        How can it be right to tell children who have been brought up in a non-Christian faith that their deeply-held beliefs (perhaps as deep as yours), and which have been instilled in them by their parents over the years, are wrong? Isn’t this very confusing for a child? Isn’t it arrogant to assume that the Christian God is the only right god? Why can’t we all live together and respect each other’s beliefs? That’s exactly what is meant by the separation of church & state. Allowing everyone to practice the religion of their choice without being marginalized by the state.

        Ed

      • Ed

        You seem like a loving and concerned person and parent and I hope what I say won’t be taken too offensively.

        You are absolutely right! And I am not at all offended. I am a caring person AND a concerned parent. I also want to point out this quote in my reply…

        I do believe this can be done with care and compassion

        I obviously would not push my faith down someone elses throat, especially a child that has been taught and believes nothing more than what their parents, whom they trust and hopefully honor, has taught them. I am not saying that my way has to be their way, no more than I would expect them to expect me to believe their way has to be my way. What I am saying is that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ” John 14:6. Perhaps you are right that my beliefs in my Savior, Jesus Christ, are very deep rooted, and I do believe that anyone who does not accept Him as their personal Savior will ultimately stand before the Father in judgement and hear the words Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity and will be cast into the lake of fire (hell).

        I fully respect all persons, and their choice of religious beliefs. I do however believe that God the father, of my Christian belief, is the only way to be saved beyond this world. I don’t believe that my view is arrogant, no more than I believe that any other persons viewpoint is arrogant. I only know that my God commands me to go into the world, tell others about His saving grace, and lead as many people to Him as I can while I am still breathing. If someone of a different religion tried to tell me the same, I would applaud them for their “deep rooted faith” but then politely tell them that I differed in their opinion and simply agree to disagree. Not turning my back on them, but instead loving them and praying for them.

        In His service
        Jeannie

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