Debate Ensues over Teaching Christianity in Schools
The following article was published on October 19 on the web site of KGO television in the San Francisco area.
Does teaching about Christianity violate a child’s right to be free from religion in a public school? One Contra Costa family thinks so. They claim their daughter’s school lesson on Christianity went too far. Their case was heard today before the ninth U.S District Court of Appeals.
The California Department of Education says every public school has to teach world religion. Now the 9th U.S. Circuit court of appeals has to decide whether this school in Contra Costa County did just that — teach Christianity or did the school endorse it.
Three years ago Excelsior Middle School in the Delta community of Byron began teaching about Christianity. It started as a lesson in tolerance toward Christians. The case has now ended up in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Linda Lye, attorney, Byron Union School District: “The teacher at issue here was very creative and energetic and engaged her student’s interests and tried to bring the subject matter alive. What the plaintiff is trying to do is attempt to get the teaching out about Islam out of the public schools.”
For 8 weeks, the 7th grade history class focused on Christianity.
The teacher encouraged students to pick saints’ names and dress up in religious-style clothes. The teacher even read a line the Bible: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
At that point, the Eklund family accused the school and the Byron Union School District of trying to indoctrinate their daughter, Samantha.
Ed White, attorney for the Eklund’s: “If the school had used the state-approved book and taught about Christianity there would be no problem. But here they went beyond that and crossed the line and started teaching Christianity which they can’t do whether it’s teaching Islam, Judaism, Buddhism etc.”
The family even took their case before a federal judge and lost. But they appealed. Today a three judge panel heard their lawyer’s arguments.
The court will decide if while teaching about Islam did the Byron Union School District endorse Christianity. The issue has divided parents in Byron.
Debbie Bowersmith, parent: “With everything that is going on…I don’t think it’s a good idea to be teaching our kids the different religions that are going on… I don’t think they are benefiting from it.”
Debbie Mapalo, parent: “We have so many different cultures in America now and I think kids have to be taught to be aware of the differences and to be accepting of the differences.”
It is appalling that the American Civil Liberties Union has failed to put its resources behind the parents’ fight against this blatant indoctrination in the schools. Even more appalling is the fact that the court upheld this teaching as constitutional.
Well, actually, the ACLU would almost certainly have taken up the parents’ case—if the religion at issue had been Christianity. It wasn’t. It was Islam. Take the above quoted news report, substitute “Islam” for “Christianity”, “Muslims” for “Christians” and a Koran verse for the Bible verse, and you will have the KGO news report almost verbatim.
Meanwhile, the ACLU is focusing their considerable resources on a much more dangerous form of religious indoctrination: the presence of small crosses on the seals of municipalities founded by Christian missionaries.
Aren’t you glad we cleared that up?