Saturday, December 15, 2012

What My Parents Told Me About Religion in Public Schools
Okay, I've about had enough.  I opened my email today to find this notice from Faithful America:
And speaking live on Fox News, Mike Huckabee said that this shooting happened because "we've systematically removed God from our schools." He added, "Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end, and we wouldn't have to call him to show up when it's all said and done."
These words are an insult to the victims, an embarrassment to sincere Christians, and a dangerous distraction from the national scourge of gun violence. Hateful and unchristian rhetoric like this has no place on a major television news network.
 Going to public school in the 1950s and early 1960s, I was exposed to plenty of prayers, special assembly sermons, and hymns with accompaniment - many of them contrary to what the Church of Christ taught and disturbing to me.  When the same rhetoric started up while my son was in public school, I decided to take a private poll of my parents.  Both went to Nashville Public Schools in the 1920s and 1930s.  Did they have God in school?

My mother recalled an occasional scripture reading and one address by a missionary just returned from China.  She also recalled a teacher stating that all the apostles were Baptists, which made her very angry because she was a Lutheran.  Regular prayers and Bible reading were definitely not part of her schooling.

My father's memories were even odder.  He could recall no scripture reading, public prayers, or religious assemblies that had made any impression on him.  What he did recall was that, when he attended Ransom School in the 1920s, the morning assembly always included singing of "Aurora, Goddess of the Morning".  How this came about, I don't know, but it caused no uproar from either Christian or Jewish students.  (Ransom at this time had a large proportion of Jewish students.)

Actually, I think Religion in School must have finally turned up when we started worrying about Godless Communism.  I remember well that I had just learned the Pledge of Allegiance when Eisenhower added the two new words "under God".  This was just like a grown-up, I thought, changing things when you'd just memorized them!

I was always taught the supreme importance of separation of church and state, and I saw for myself how religious exercises could make difficulties in school.  One year at Jere Baxter, we had Christmas and Easter pageants.  Being of the Church of Christ, I was forbidden to participate in these.  My mother arranged that with the teachers.  I felt cheated, of course - all those costumes!  The next year, no such pageants were presented.  I suspect this was the influence of the ever-vocal Jehovah's Witnesses, whose children attended public schools.

For certain, we have not always had the Bible and piety in public schools. 


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