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School District Removes “God” from the Classroom

Discussion in 'Culture & Religion' started by KingBall, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. KingBall

    KingBall New Member

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    ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that it has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Poway Unified School District, located in San Diego, California. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Brad Johnson, a respected teacher who has been teaching in the school district for 30 years. The lawsuit claims that school officials violated Johnson’s constitutional rights by ordering him to remove several educational banners from his classroom walls because, according to these officials, the banners promote a “Judeo-Christian” viewpoint.
    The banners, which Johnson had displayed in his classroom without complaint for nearly 25 years, contained the following phrases: “In God We Trust,” the official motto of the United States; “One Nation Under God,” the 1954 amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance; “God Bless America,” a patriotic song considered to be the unofficial national anthem of the United States; “God Shed His Grace On Thee,” a line from “America the Beautiful,” a popular patriotic song; and “All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed By Their Creator,” an excerpt from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. School officials objected to the banners because they included the words “God” and “Creator.”

    Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, commented, “Cleansing our Nation’s classrooms of our religious heritage and history and imposing viewpoint restrictions on speech to silence such expressions advance no legitimate educational purpose. In fact, such actions undermine the primary purpose of public education: to prepare students for citizenship in our Republic.”

    The lawsuit alleges that the school district violated Johnson’s constitutional rights by imposing a viewpoint-based restriction on his speech. It further alleges that this restriction “serves no valid educational purpose, is not reasonably related to any legitimate pedagogical concern, and conveys a government-sponsored message of disapproval of and hostility toward religion” in violation of the United States and California Constitutions.

    Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney handling the case, commented, “It is without question that religious people founded this Nation. As a result, references to God are common in our songs, mottoes, and slogans. And it is the responsibility of our Nation’s public schools to educate students to be informed citizens. Consequently, it is the responsibility of all public school teachers, including Mr. Johnson, to educate students regarding our Nation’s history and its founding. Mr. Johnson’s educational banners serve that purpose.”

    The lawsuit seeks to have the speech restriction overturned so that Johnson can continue to display his banners, as he had been for 25 years.

    The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.


    http://www.thomasmore.org/news.html?NewsID=580
     
  2. heyjude

    heyjude New Member

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    What am I missing here? "The lawsuit seeks to have the speech restriction overturned so that Johnson can continue to display his banners, as he had been for 25 years. " What restriction does he want to have removed? The one in our law regarding "separation of church and state?"

    I am an atheist and I think this kind of thing is rediculious. We cannot remove all references to God. They are interwoven parts of the fabric of this country. Having said that, the one in the Pledge is just plain wrong. Anyway, there are people who have nothing to do but try to cause trouble.

    The giving a seperate place to students to pray is not new. It is done in highschools so that Christian children can meet to hold morning prayers. There was a stink up not long ago about a school forbidding Christians from standing in a hallway praying. The school had given them a room, but they wanted to pray in the hall, where they were impeding the other students while they were trying to get to class.
     
  3. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    Why?

    I'm not sure that you grasp the importance and centrality that God has played in this country's history. It's only appropriate that we pledge allegiance to our nation, under God, because that's what makes us special. The citizens derive their natural rights from Our Creator and loan it to the government, which is why our Constitution begins "We the people of the United States".

    Everywhere else in the world, the power resides in the government. In America, the power resides in the people. Totally different model. But if "Creator" disappears then the subservience of government to the people disappears.

    This secular assault on God in the public square threatens the very heart of the American system.
     
  4. vyo476

    vyo476 Active Member

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    In terms of education, kids ought to learn about religion. That's a no-brainer.

    In terms of the "heart of the American system," as USMC put it, I think that so long as we continue to recognize that we are naturally endowed with our rights (by whatever you believe created us - hence, "Creator") we can probably do without the word "God," which is an acknowledgment of only one group's beliefs on who or what the "Creator" is.

    And we can still respect the past while moving forward into the future. The "Creator" angle is a good one because it is a non-denominative term and can even be stretched to include non-religious ideals (if evolution created the human race, then the process of evolution could be viewed as our "Creator" - yeah, it's a stretch, but we're trying to cater to everyone here).

    So, in my opinion: Creator = Good, God = Bad.

    Oh, semantics. My very favorite study.
     
  5. ArmChair General

    ArmChair General New Member

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    Frankly, its immoral to have the words, “One Nation Under God,” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    First, I would like to stress that my argument is concerned with morality, not law. An institution (such as slavery before 1865) can be immoral at the same time that it is constitutional.

    If any government official were to stand up and say, for example, "Jews are despicable enemies of what is truly American, even though they do no wrong, and even though they break no just laws, purely because they do not share our beliefs," morally decent people would be outraged, as they should be.

    Decent people will have the same reaction to any neighbor who supports such an official. That neighbor clearly does not understand the moral obligation of a government to give its peaceful law-abiding citizens equal respect and consideration.

    Yet, anybody who says that Pledge of Allegiance with the words 'under God' included as they are is making this same type of morally repulsive claim.

    The Pledge states that we are one nation with liberty. Including 'liberty' in the Pledge says that liberty is good, and that any who promote tyranny are despicable enemies of what is truly American.

    The Pledge states that we are one nation with justice for all. Including 'justice' in the Pledge says that justice is good, and that any who promote injustice are despicable enemies of what is truly American.

    The Pledge states that we are one nation indivisible. Frances Bellamy created the Pledge in the late 1800s specifically to deal with the scars of the Civil War, and to unite the nation. His reason for including the word 'indivisible' was to communicate the idea that America was to remain one country, and that those who would seek to divide it are to be considered enemies of what is truly American.

    When Congress added 'under God' to the Pledge during the McCarthy era, it was meant to convey the same message. Our nation's enemy then was the (godless) communists. Including 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance was Congress's way of telling people that a good American must believe in God, and that those who do not believe in God are unAmerican. The godless (or, actually, if we were being honest, the non-Christian) are people to be viewed with suspicion and distrust.

    By adding these words, the government created a situation where peaceful law-abiding citizens are forced to endure a situation where their government calls them the moral equivalent of tyrants and perpetrators of injustice. To participate in public life, they are forced to endure these rituals. However, the greatest wrong rests in the fact that the government forces their children to sit in attendance while the school leads their friends in a daily pledge to regard those who are not 'under God' in the same light as those who promote tyranny and injustice.

    No decent human being would allow a government to force its peaceful law-abiding citizens or their children to endure this daily public ridicule and humiliation.
     
  6. Coyote

    Coyote Active Member

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    Depends...in order to understand American history and world history, kids must learn about the role of religion in history, and how it shaped politics and culture. You can not learn American history with out that.

    I think it's good for children to have a comparative religions class - study the major world religions and their influence in the world past and present.

    I think a certain understanding of religion is necessary to best understand some works of great literature.

    But to masquerade religion as science? No.

    To teach religious dogma? No.
     
  7. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    ArmChair, you did a lot of talking with little substance. If I understand correctly, you said that the words "under God" are reprehensible because you believe it equates atheists with tyrants.

    I disagree with you for the reasons previously stated. I view the presence of God as very essential to the heart of the American system because without it, we are just like every other country where the government owns the citizens and has the ability to remove their liberties.

    ArmChair, in your opinion, what do you suppose the Committee of Five meant by "Creator"?
     
  8. vyo476

    vyo476 Active Member

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    Agreed. That's not learning about religion. That's being taught to adhere to a religion.
     
  9. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    Right, but God and the Creator -- it goes beyond just who gives us our sovereignty. It has ushered us through our most trying times.

    The Revolution, obviously, was inspired by the profound concept that our nation was conceived in liberty and that this liberty comes from the Creator, not the government. As Thomas Jefferson's likely second most famous remark goes, "I swear upon the altar of God Almighty, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Now if you get the right secular liberal, they'll tell you that Jefferson was a Deist (they don't know what that means, but at least he wasn't a Baptist). So my question to my secular liberal friends, what did Jefferson mean by "we are endowed by our Creator" and "the altar of God Almighty"?

    God was called upon once again to help us through the Civil War. In Lincoln's Second Inagural Address (732 words), he referrenced God 14 times and quoted the Bible twice. In 732 words. According to today's secularists, most of the speech would have to be erased because it's politically incorrect.

    And then on the eve of the D-Day Invasion which, aside from the Revolution and Civil War, was this country's most difficult time, FDR led the country in a formal prayer.

    So my point is that God and the Creator have importance beyond their significance in the Declaration.

    This is not about theology, it's about history.
     
  10. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    Exactly and this relates to what I just said. God is extremely significant to this country's history.
     
  11. Coyote

    Coyote Active Member

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    No....not God per se, but religion.
     
  12. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    I consider God to be part of religion.
     
  13. Coyote

    Coyote Active Member

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    What you describe is a bit different - the relation of some individuals to a god as opposed to the role of religion in the making of our country. The fact that our country was founded by those fleeing religious persecution, and that that was a driving force in both the right to practice one's chosen form of worship free from government interference and development of a secular government free of religious controls is important to understand.
     
  14. ArmChair General

    ArmChair General New Member

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    If you read the entire Declaration, its quite obvious that the reference to creator and Natures God, were paganistic in origin, and had absolutely nothing to do with a Monotheistic God.

    I respond to the rest later.
     
  15. heyjude

    heyjude New Member

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    The Pledge proclaims that this nation grants freedom to all, yet no one is free when reciting it, if forced to proclaim belief in a god in whom they do not believe. Furthermore, there is no justice for those people. The words are religious tyranny.

    I do not, and will not recite the Pledge for a different reason. I will not pledge my allegiance to a piece of cloth. Don't waste your time telling me it is only symbolic. "I pledge allegiance to the flag." I would gladly pledge allegiance to my country, but not to a cloth.
     
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