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God in School

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In a recent Education Week Commentary, professor Joseph P. Viteritti writes that as American schools take in more immigrants from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, educators will need to find ways to welcome these newcomers and respect their traditions. While religious charter schools could help fulfill this need, Mr. Viteritti argues that such schools cross the constitutional line between church and state.

However, he says that charter schools can help new students adapt, and educators should consider trying a few secular schools.

What do you think? Should districts experiment with religious charter schools? Would these schools cross the boundary between church and state?

33 Comments

I don't know how many of you have been watching KID NATION;in 10/10's episode they addressed RELIGION as a moral compass. I suggest if you have ON DEMAND services check out the show.... (it's a good classroom tool too)

Does a religious charter school cross the line of church/state issue? I don't think so, since the separation of church and state is more of a governmental issue and charter schools float outside of the governmental Board of Education.

I don't see it as anything different than a charter school with a science focus or a leadership focus.

The problem with religious charter schools is the issue of segregation of populations, this time not across racial lines but across religious lines.

Example: what happens if you have a Christian charter school which has an incredibly innovative allied arts program and a Muslim,Jewish, Hindu or Atheist child wants to attend the school because of this program... are they allowed to?

Religion in school has always been a sticky issue, and the moral compass offered by religion, any religion definitely is a survival need of our species.

God by any name you may call him/her/them is still God; should the concept be invoked in a charter school? Perhaps...

I strongly disagree with establishing any religious public schools. Charter schools are public schools too, and they must be held accountable just as other public schools are. True accountability includes not only finances and student achievement but also compliance with the law. Religious charter schools would use public funds to sponsor religious teaching, and that is clearly state establishment of religion and violates the First Amendment freedoms that have united our country for over two centuries. We are in great danger of losing this historic unity today. Public schools helped prepare previous generations of immigrants for citizenship. If we balkanize our public schools by splitting them into charter schools with competing agendas that do not advance citizenship first, we will fail to keep our republic and American way of life.

Churches are free to establish private religious schools, just as they always have. Parents are free to enroll their children in such institutions. Public (taxpayer-funded) schools should be free of religious endorsements because they are civil programs (secular not religious). Everyone belongs to the public, but not everyone belongs to religion. Religion is a personal choice and belief system that should never be publicly offered to children who yet don't have the capacity to rationalize the complexities of supernatural belief systems.

Read the Constitution: "Congress shall make no laws respecting the establisment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Now, show me any laws that Congress has passed, or attempted to pass, that establishes The First Church of the United States of America, or for that matter, any law proposed that would prohibit the free exercise of religion. There are a plethora of faulty decisions that have been handed down by the Supreme Court (faulty in the sense that they are not based on what is actually written in the Constitution), but when did it become the Supreme Court's function to make laws? I've read the Constitution many times and can't seem to find the Court's law-making functions.

There is no "Constitutional" line of "separation of church and state." That is a construct of the Court. "Separation of church and state" is nowhere written in the Constitution. The phrase comes from a letter written by Jefferson, to a church, in the very early 1800's. It was taken out of context by the Court and has been applied as if it where the law, which it isn't.

Am I the only one in the country that sees this? Where are our legislators and school leaders on this very important matter? Why aren't they outraged and up in arms about the usurpation of the legislative powers by the Supreme Court? Why do educators continue to buy into the idea that by allowing religious expression of any kind in a school, that the school, and therefore "government," is establishing a religion. It just ain't so. Read the Constitution!

Charter schools are a choice -- parents choose to send their children. They would be fully aware of the religious theme and, yes, all children would certainly be allowed to enroll, regardless of religious affiliation. These parents are already paying public school taxes, why not allow these to be put toward the school of their choice.

No problem here.

Familes are making the CHOICE to send their students to these schools. No one is prohibited from attending.

If you deny families the right to go to a religous charter school, then you are denying them their religious beliefs. Non-religion is its own religion.

Government can't impose religion on others, but it can't deny them religion either.

Religious charter schools are completely constitutional, because they are based upon free choice.

Government stay out of my soul. To establish a school that teaches a religion is an ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, pure and simple. Whether to give(or APPEAR to be giving) warm fuzzies to an immigrant group or to capture votes from US Citizen members of their community is both cute and obvious. Will we soon see alliances between missionary types, seeking a theocracy and common vote buying political hacks? Lose the rationales! Read our CONSTITUTION, and get back to the practical and appropriate business of improving student performance in the core subjects and assuring that every child has a highly qualified teacher for each of those subjects.

People can argue the "constitutionality" til the cows come home. Obviously, through legal precedence, "seperation of church and state" has come to imply the establishment of a secular public educational institution in this country. I, for one, think that it is one of the greatest things this country has going for it. As an American citizen, naturalized here after two generations of immigrants, I choose to live religious free and that "religious freedom" must protect and establish both concepts. As a taxpayer, I do not want my money going to a publicly funded religious charter school. As I do not agree with most of the perspectives of current administration; I do feel we must be aware and cautious about supporting what could become training grounds for radical ideologies: muslim and christian alike.

Work on keeping foreign traditions OUT of public schools. This is as bad an idea as Hillary health care.
Bob

First of all separation of church and state is not part of the constitution it was part of a letter from President Jefferson to the christian church many years ago if I have my information right. Since than the courts have used this phrase for rulings. Besides this I think the country has pushed and pushed for freedom of other religions and being sensitive to their needs except to the needs of judeo-christian beliefs. Here in Alaska there is a big push to incorporate the spirituality of native alaskan traditions into the curriculum but watch out if we were to include the spirtual aspects of christianity into the curriculum. What is it with judeo-christian beliefs that people are afraid of? If we are going to be sensitive to all of these religious cultural beliefs (muslim, budism, hindu, etc.) than we need to to all beliefs. Yes, I saw charter schools can have religous emphasis. A charter school is a choice and if you don't like its particular religious emphasis than you don't have to attend that one go to another. If students have a choice than you are not pushing a religious belief on them and therefore it shouldn 't be offensive. Next the government will restrict private schools from having a religious affliation because it might offend a muslim, budist, or atheist when they walk by the school. Come on people when will it end?

"Government can't impose religion" but government DOES impose (compulsory) schooling. With school as a back door for the establishment clause, "No Child Left Behind" comes closer to the LeHaye interpretation of it's double entendre.

Which Religion?

The original statement to seperate the "church from the state" was made in the context that the state or government should not interfere with the church not the interpretation commonly used today.

Religion is and should be a free choice. Religious education is also a free choice. There is no community in the U.S. capable of offering enough charter school choices to serve all religions separately. For that matter, it is not the role of the public school to either establish or to interfere with any religion. It is actually kind of silly to think that mere humans could take God out of anything or put God into anything. There really is no legislative body or court that is high enough, or powerful enough to do such a thing. When a student feels it necessary to bow his or her head in prayer that the test will be passed, the football game will be won, or grandpa will sirvive his next operation, I am not going to interfere. It is quite simply a waste of legislative and judicial time, and taxpayers money to attempt to spiritualize or to despiritualize public schools.

I have read Professor Viteritti’s commentary and I can’t figure out why he wrote the piece. A segment of out society will do anything to accommodate Muslims and nothing to accommodate Christians. So, for me finding ways to “welcome these newcomers” is a non-issue. They are in the greatest country in the world, which should be good enough.

My father was an immigrant. He came to the US in 1927 and speaking no English started in public school in the 8th grade. Regrettable, that was the last year he completed in school because as the oldest child he had to go to work to help the family. He became a responsible, hard working man, a great father and a proud loyal American.

As I read the other comments from readers, I wonder who has read the Bill of Rights recently. The “establishment” clause of the First Amendment gets so much attention and the “free exercise” clause so little. For the convenience of the reader, “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise [of religion] thereof.” A misguided Supreme Court back in the 60s bastardized a Jefferson quote from a letter to the Danbury [CT] Baptists in a tortured effort to justify the banning of prayer in schools. Today, this effort to violate both the word and the spirit of the Bill of Rights in public schools, has taken on a life of its own. Public school stakeholders have no idea what they are doing with regard to religion. The ACLU is a willing accomplice in this effort to destroy America’s great religious tradition.

I graduated in 1962 from public school. This was the last year that prayer was permitted in homeroom. Despite this, I haven’t ever robbed a 711, haven’t shot any of my school classmates and have lived a law abiding life. I raised three great children, who are now raising seven grandchildren. They all work and are responsible citizens. This whole concept of “separation of Church and State” taken to the ridiculous in public schools is just so much nonsense.

Joe Cascarelli
Westcliffe CO

Lots of mention, above, of "Separation of church and state". Just a bit of historic elaboration here: While this concept is one that has been produced in our own SCOTUS and district court holdings to attempt to explain the meaning the "establishment clause" in the first Amendment to the US Constitution, this concept appears in identical or similar wording("The church is separated from the state....") in three 20th century constitutions, known to me. They are the 1918 original, post revolutionary, constitution: Article 2, Ch 5, # 13.....The 1936 revision, Ch 10, article 124.....and The 1977 revision, Ch 7, Article 52...all of the Soviet Union. Our own "separation of church and state" is, it would seem, a judicial construct, rather than a constitutional specification.

None-the-less, I suggest that state-sponsored religious instruction would result in horrible violence being done to theology, as a scholarly pursuit, regardless of "which religion". Reason enough to dump the idea of "government approved" religious instruction whether to humor a particular immigrant group or for some other collection of "reasons".

For those that think there is a constitutional problem with religious charter schools, I point you to the GI Bill.

Our gov't gives soldiers money to spend on an educational setting of their choice: religious or nonreligious.

This country is suppose to have it's foundation on "In God we trust". I don't understand putting God out of school in the first place!

For a district to get, squarely, in the business of theology by way of religious charter school establishment AS A SOP TO IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES is, at least, condescending and, at most, a violation of the trust that may have brought many of the immigrants here in the first place: freedom FROM state sponsorship of religion.

For example, the Czech Free-Thinkers(Svoboda movement)who settled in Chicago in the late 19th century emigrated as much to escape the state(Austrian)sponsored church as to be rid of Austrian domination and compulsory military service to the Hapsburgs.

As to God being put out of schools, this would be impossible since He is omnipresent, and His believers are free to include him in their daily thoughts and witness.

Come on people, lets use some of this missionary zeal to improve delivery of the core subjects. Our new immigrants want their kids to be learned and competitive. These parents are free, just like the rest of us, to establish their own religious centers. They will love us all the more if we provide the world's best education in the core subjects.

Of course they do. Spending taxpayer dollars for any particular religion, including religious schools, is the government supporting a religion.

The Constitution, written by men who knew the dangers of government enmeshment with religion, says no.

What is difficult about this issue, once the dark cloud of political correctness is pushed aside? To parocialize public education has always been unconstitutional, and to do so for the "sentitivities" of the new religious groups, defeats the purpose of our Founders' secular intent. Americans have always had the right to privatize education: that's what private religious schools all over America are for. But once you parocialize public education, you go down the slippery slope to balkanizing our sociey--and that can only continue to further divisions between us all.

Sounds like liberal multi-culturalists who would like nothing better to bash Christianity and simultaneously pander and cater to Islam want to furthur divide America. As long as the secular nature of the schools is not antagonistic to religion keep the sectarianism out.

Public funding should never be used to propagate the delusion of theism, regardless of a student's culture. Religion in general damages education as it provides a set of myths that contradict logic, critical thinking, and scientific understanding. Let's do education and our government a real service and revoke the tax-exempt status of churches.

Would-be "parochializers" of U.S. public schools have been with us for several hundred years. The major difference today is that more among us are fuzzy thinkers, who have been convinced by multiculturalists that being "popular" with this or that group justifies erosion of constitutional freedoms for everyone else. The parochializers, moment has arived! Add in the politicians and other vermin who drool at the prospect of being loved by potential voting blocks, made giddy from such pandering, and the assault on our freedoms becomes continuous. Relax for even a moment, and we will lose the original 10 amendments in this order: I, II, V("takings" clause), IV, and IX, and X. After that, it won't be the USA anymore, and potential "immigrants" may as well stay put.

It's ridiculous how everyone is trying to change the values and morals of which this country was founded.
It doesn't matter whether churches have a choice to create a religious school or not because not everyone can afford them. We are forced to learn other country's religious beliefs and cultures but when it comest to our own, we are being suppressed. The right to have our freedom is being taken away from us within our own country and it needs to stop. It should be OPTIONAL in school and if the parent supports it, they can participate as an "elective". Everyone is working to REMOVE it rather than making it optional. If you don't agree with it - start a school that doesn't allow it and leave our schools that practice it alone. Or better yet, if you don't like it, leave our country and go to one that makes you happy. Everyone wants to enjoy their freedom to speak and change things, but doesn't respect how they got that freedom.

Dear Mr. Viteritti,
I am extremely offended in the manner in which you demean God in this commentary. Apparently, you do not know Him very well.

It is amazing how profound some people think they are with their commentaries. Profound or otherwise, whether you believe it or not, God will do everything He says He will. Perhaps one day you will appreciate that others have prayed for you.

Blessings to you today.

Why do we even think that religous charter schools are the only answer? Is it because this is the approach that many districts around the country have taken? If this is the case, then my answer is that I believe the need to address and accomodate cultural differences in any student is more vital than a rigid application of Church and State doctrine.
If on the other hand, this debate over charter schools is expanded to look at other options, I would like to ask the question why the issue of belief cannot be properly and fairly addressed within the public schools? We do not seem to possess a shyness over any other social or cultural issue. I think this issue can and should be fairly addressed within the public schools. Furthermore, I do not think if implemented correctly, that addressing this issue would necessarily violate church and state rulings. I appreciate discussion on issues like this and welcome more of it.

If you are going to establish religious charter schools supported with tax dollars, then there must be one school for every organized/recognized religion with equal funding for all. To leave one out or fund one more than another could be construed as establishing a religion and that is unconstitutional.

Roane County High school Principal Fights back:

This is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at
Roane County High School ,
Kingston , Tennessee ,
by school Principal, Jody McLeod

"It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games, to say a prayer and play the National Anthem, to honor God and Country."

Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a Prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law. As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it "an alternate lifestyle," and if someone is offended, that's OK.

I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity, by dispensing condoms and calling it, "safe sex." If someone is offended, that's OK.

I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a "viable means of birth control." If someone is offended, no problem...

I can designate a school day as "Earth Day" and involve students in activities to worship religiously and praise the goddess "Mother Earth" and call it "ecology."

I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depicts people with strong, traditional Christian convictions as "simple minded" and "ignorant" and call it enlightenment."

However, if anyone uses this facility to honor GOD and to ask HIM to Bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, then Federal Case Law is violated.

This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical .

Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone, except GOD and HIS Commandments.

Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules with which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be inconsistent at best, and at worst, hypocritical...
I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.

For this reason, I shall "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," and refrain from praying at this time.

"However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank GOD and ask HIM, in the name of JESUS, to Bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law----yet."

One by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with one another and began to pray.

They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They prayed at the concession stand and they prayed in the Announcer's Box!

The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United States of America- the Seat of "Justice" in the "one nation, under GOD."

Somehow, Kingston , Tennessee remembered what so many have forgotten. We are given the Freedom OF Religion, not the Freedom FROM Religion. Praise GOD that HIS remnant remains!

JESUS said, "If you are ashamed of ME before men, then I will be ashamed of you before MY FATHER."





Scientific Accuracies of the Bible
Many people doubt the Bible for various reasons. One of them is that the Bible is not accurate scientifically. But this just isn't so. The Bible is not a book about science, but when it does speak scientifically, it is accurate. In fact, it was far ahead of any other writing of its time. Please consider the following:

The Shape of the Earth
"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in" (Isaiah 40:22, NIV).
This may or may not be construed to support the spherical shape of the earth. The horizon is a circle and a circle is flat.
The Earth is suspended in nothing
"He spreads out the northern[skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing,"(Job. 26:7, NIV).
This is particularly interesting, considering that the cosmology of other cultures at that time did not have the earth suspended in nothing, but rather upon pillars, or people, or animals.
The Stars are Innumerable
"He took him outside and said, 'Look up at the heavens and count the stars -- if indeed you can count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be'" (Gen. 15:5, NIV).
The Existence of Valleys in the Seas
"The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils" (2 Sam. 22:16, NIV).
The Existence of Springs and Fountains in the Seas
"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month -- on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened" (Genesis 7:11, NIV). See also Gen. 8:2; Prov. 8:28.
The Existence of Water Paths (Ocean Currents) in the Seas
"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!...When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,...You made him [man] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet...the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas" (Psalm 8:1,3,6,8, NIV).
The Hydrologic Cycle
"He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight" (Job. 26:8, NIV).
"He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind" (Job. 36:27-28, NIV)
"The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again" (Ecclesiastes 1:6-7, NIV).
The Concept of Entropy
"In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded" (Psalm 102:22-26, NIV).
The Nature of Health, Sanitation, and Sickness
The listing for this section is too large for this page. But the scriptural references are Leviticus 12-14.

THE FOOL HAS SAID THERE IS NO GOD
Jerry Ballard [email protected]

I think schools rather public, private, or charter should not prohibit people biblical morality or any other type of religious principles
in fact for bidding them immagrants from going to ppublic schools because of their religiou customs and to make teachers jobs easier robs the immagrants of the public shcool system experience and memory. This approach would be immoral and a regulation of the 1st amendment

When we allowed a few individuals to dictate their religious beliefs(separation of church and state) upon our public school system, no one ask parents in urban areas what they thought. They would have discovered that paremts and ministers, would have never wanted religion to be taken out of the schools. Observers have noted that without the presence of moral expectations, the behavior and attitudes of our students have declined greatly. Our churches have been our strength and rock in our communities. The one thing our people could hold on to for hope and faith and yet some "politically correct, insensitive, selfish, folks," disregarded the needs of ALL its people to make themselves feel good which has contributed to the downward decline of moral thinking and behavior in our schools. Since this "poor decision" was mandated, opportunist have created numerous programs to supplement a vital missing part of educational needs. Needless to say, banks accounts become fat in the face and demiss of others. I think its called "Character Education."

Robby L. Warren

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON ;JESUS SO THAT ALL COULD BE SAVED ;THIS MESSAGE MY FRIENDS IS FOR ALL THE WORLD NOT JUST CHRISTIANS AS IS THE MESSAGE ;I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE ,NO ONE CAN COME TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME(JESUS)MY CHRISTIAN FRIENDS THE BATTLE HAS BEGUN GOD HAS COMMANDED HIS SOLDIERS TO BRING THIS GOOD NEWS TO THE WORLD AND THAT INCLUDES THE SCHOOLS.BE STRONG AND JOYOUS FOR THE BATTLE AHEAD OF US IS SO MUCH SMALLER THAN THE POWER BEHIND US(ALMIGHTY GOD).NOW GO MY FRIENDS FIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILIES FOR YOUR CHILDREN FOR YOUR NATION ARMED WITH THE MIGHTIEST WEAPON IN THIS UNIVERSE ;A WEAPON DESIGNED TO KILL HATRED AND INDIFFERENCE ,TO HEAL THE SICK TO RESSURECT THE DEAD TO OBLITERATE DARKNESS ;THIS WEAPON IS THE UNCOMPROMISED AND LIVING WORD OF ALMIGHTY GOD AND IF YOU DO NOT HAVE IT THEN HASTEN TO FINDIT READ IT HEAR IT MEDITATE ON IT SPEAK IT AND LIVE BY IT AND ABOVE ALL SHARE IT WITH ALL WHO COMME IN CONTACT WITH YOU; GOD BLESS YOU ALL MY FRIENDS

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