Declaration Banned in School
Matt Drudge links a Reuters article describing a California teacher who was suspended from teaching for assigning the students historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, which refer to God.
Cutting through the hype, the Declaration qua the Declaration was not proscribed. The teacher referred to being singled out for censorship because he is a Christian. It is a good guess, then, that this teacher has taught Christian principles as Christian principles in the class in the past and has been warned and/or rebuked. The teacher was probably on some sort of probation and had his teaching materials checked by the principal for references to God.
This would mean that the Declaration, in the hands of this particular teacher, becomes as the King James Version in the eyes of this particular principal.
I hope the principal is found to be in the wrong here. She, principal Phyllis Vidmar, ought to treat matters this sensitive in a more careful manner. The mention of the word God in the Declaration and other such documents should be considered, for the sake of a secular education, to be an historical accident, not the advocacy of any religion.
In writing this, I am merely trying to cut away the histrionics, looking at the situation with secularism as it is construed at this point in our history.
Since this is my space and I am not bound by these ridiculous rulings, I'll say that I find this attempt to negate Christianity to be personally offensive, and I find attempts to nullify other religions to be generally detestable. Religion touches all people in this country in one way or another, even if it simply the knowledge that all of our founding fathers in some manner believed in a creating entity – I may be missing a stray atheist – and most were Christian. It's part of our history.
As I hop from blog to blog discussing this, I find just about every one of them jump to take the side of the teacher. I blame too much reliance on right-wing media for this.
Apparently, what was "banned" was an edited collection compiled by the teacher featuring a bunch of out of context excerpts refering to God in one form or another. The Declaration wasn't banned, just the distortion of it.
From my own personal experience, some teachers in fact DO try to imply that any mention of God by the Founding Fathers is incontrovertible proof that they intended the Bible to be the basis of law. (For example, "in God we trust" on money justifies anti-gay marriage laws.) Which, of course, is nonsense. But these overzealous people are perfectly happy distorting history to fit their agenda. If schools have overreacted, it's because of people like this teacher.
The real character of many Founding Fathers was deism, which "church activists" generally ignore or denounce. If this teacher is discussing the religion of the Founding Fathers, this is probably the most important fact to discuss. (I don't, however, pretend to know that this teacher didn't include this at some point.)
And this story is taking the same form--perpetuated by "religious" activists--as all those accusations that prayer and the Bible are banned from school. None of which is true. It's just that the schools (and its employees) are forbidden from imposing religious material onto the students as official curricula. More than anything, this protects the students from the teachers.