|Establishment and our lack of Christian freedom in US public schools.
Fritz Ward, Jr., Ph.D.
Editors note: Two of our online group members from Russia and Estonia have asked questions about our lack of freedom in the class room to discuss Creation and other Christian topics. One of the disadvantages of an earned doctorate, and there are many, is we tend to learn but one topic. As soon as we start college we begin to specialize and sadly most of us continue this trend for the remainder of our formal education. There is an oft-quoted saying contrasting a scientists and a journalist. Journalists learn less and less about more and more until they know nothing about everything. In contrast scientists strive to learn more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing. So it is with me. I do know a few things about how reptiles regulate body temperature, but little else.
With this in mind, I ask Dr. Fritz Ward, Jr. to respond to the question of how it has become essentially illegal to discuss Creation and other Christian topics in our public high schools and universities. Fritz has an earned doctorate in history from the University of California, Davis and graciously provided the following short essay. Fritz has been associated with our online group from the start albeit at times loosely so and he is a nice guy. Thanks Fritz. Doc Smith
Religion is not outlawed in the United States. What has happened is a gradual change in definition of the term "establishment." When the founders wrote the Establishment clause of the Constitution, they intended to prohibit the setting up of a state church like the Church of England. (I am of the opinion that that was a mistake, but that's another story.) As understood in the 18th century, a state or "established" church conveyed political rights only to those who were communicants in that particular church. Thus, for example, only members of the Church of England were allowed to vote and publicly profess their faith. The constitutional prohibition against this meant that the founders conceived of a free marketplace in religion, so to speak, in which all churches could openly proselytize and seek converts. I think that this conception would even extend to non-Christian religions, although the founders were very clear that their own ideas and faith were rooted in Western, particularly Protestant, Christian religions.
Today, however, Establishment of religion means (mostly to the liberal left, who have spent half a century befuddling the issue) any public expression of religion in the "public sphere." This is a far cry from what the founders meant, and is indeed antithetical to it. Worse yet, the size of our government is such that almost everything is in the public sphere and this means that religion is becoming more isolated from the mainstream of society. There is also an implicit idea among some liberals that the first amendment is supposed to protect individuals from religious expression. I read an opinion column today which asked that the under God phrase be removed from the Pledge because it might offend "atheists, polytheists" etc. But this is nonsense. The first amendment does not protect one from religious expression: it merely grants the right to it. But of such doublespeak is modern politics made.