Sunday, June 19, 2011

MV schools provides second presentation of ‘Religion in the Public Schools’

Late last month teachers at Mount Vernon City Schools were given the second installment in a set of presentations on church and state issues which were required under the 2009 settlement with the Dennis family.

The first presentation was given in August of 2009 by two attorneys. The second presentation was to take place by September 2010. Following inquires and a public records request from earlier this year, superintendent Steve Short said in March that the school was “in the planning stages for the second speaker.”

The presentation

The presentation May 25 was given by two law professors from West Virginia University College of Law: John Taylor and Anne Marie Lofaso.

(“‘Religion in the Public Schools’ - law professors speak to public school teachers”)

The topics covered were much the same as the first presentation: “Religious Liberty in America,” “Prayer in School,” “Religion in the Curriculum,” “Evolution vs. Creationism,” “Teaching About Religious Holidays,” “Religious Displays,” “Student Religious Clubs,” “Distribution of Religious Materials” and “Teacher Religious Expression.”

The only topic not covered this time that was covered during the previous presentation was school board polices concerning religion.

See here for a copy of the computer slides that were used during the presentation. 1.5 MB PDF

See here for a copy of the school board’s polices. 8 MB PDF

Additional information and alternative viewpoints

The Rutherford Institute

The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties organization which is representing John Freshwater, provides resources for teachers and students about their rights and freedoms:

Pamphlet: Teachers Rights in Public Education (121 KB PDF)

Pamphlet: Students Rights in Public Education (59 KB PDF)

See here for a list of additional free resources from TRI.

David Barton, American historian

David Barton is the Founder and President of WallBuilders, an organization that describes itself as “a national pro-family organization that presents America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious and constitutional heritage.”

(“David Barton on America’s Christian heritage, constitutional issues”)

Barton was the keynote speaker at Citizens for Community Values’ spring partnership banquet in Cincinnati on April 25. Although his presentation was not focused on public school issues, he did speak about church and state issues including the concept of “separation of church and state.”

See WallBuilders’ YouTube channel for additional videos about America’s spiritual heritage and the current battle over public acknowledgment of God.

Thomas Paine on “The Study of God”

The following presentation by Thomas Paine is from the article “Thomas Paine Criticizes the Current Public School Science Curriculum”:

Delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, in a Discourse to the Society of Theophilanthropists:

“It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.

“When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them form the Being who is the author of them. . . .

“The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal.”

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