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The enemies of freedom strike again
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" -- The First Amendment.
World Net Daily exposed another assault on freedom by the government schools last week. The Alliance Defense Fund sent a letter to a Knoxville, Tennessee elementary school warning the administration that they cannot prohibit students from conducting a Bible study during recess. The story was picked up by the mainstream media when the school administration protested that it was being treated unfairly. (See here, here and here.)
The school offered a lame justification that prohibiting an organized Bible study during recess is necessary because such an organized study prevents children from getting needed physical exercise. Is the school admitting that they are not providing the necessary physical education classes to make sure students get the exercise they need to stay healthy? Does anyone really think that if a group of students wanted to meet and study history, science or poetry that they would have been forbidden from doing so?
What is frightening, though, is how some Leftists have reacted to this story. Some on the extremist fringe have actually suggested that the school was obligated to put a stop to this Bible study and prohibit "any exercise of any religion in government grounds".
The radical Left's hostility to allowing religious expression in public is an outgrowth of a belief in the mythical concept of "separation of church and state". This appears nowhere in the Constitution. The government is prohibited from "respecting an establishment of religion", but there is nothing in the Constitution that says religion and government must be separate. Leftists, however, cling to the "separation of church and state" myth to justify forcing religion out of the public arena and to suppress religious speech.
The beauty of the First Amendment is the simple, easily understandable language contained therein. The government schools (or any unit of government) may not endorse or promote religion, or show favoritism for one religion over another. The government is also prohibited from restricting the people's religious liberty. In this specific case, the government schools may not fund or support the Bible study. The government schools also cannot prohibit students who wish to voluntarily conduct a Bible study during recess from doing so.
What harm is being done by allowing these students to exercise their religious liberty during recess time? Is anyone else's freedom being restricted by allowing the Bible study to take place? The answer is a clear and simple "no". No one is having his or her freedom restricted or limited in any way by a voluntary Bible study during recess. Anyone "offended" by the Bible study will have to get over it, because the Constitution protects freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.
Religious liberty does not cease to exist when you step onto government property. Once we set the precedent that government may ban religious expression from lands it controls, we open the door to ever more onerous restrictions on religious liberty. C.S. Lewis provided a prophetic vision of modern America when he said: When the modern world says to us aloud, "You may be religious when you are alone," it adds under its breath, "I will see to it that you are never alone."
The United States of America was founded on limited government and individual liberty. Many of the people who settled the colonies came here to escape persecution in Europe and to make sure they had the freedom to worship as they choose. We spent nearly five decades holding back the spread of Communism, which was well known for brutally persecuting people of faith. How sad would it be if, after all the sacrifices made in the 20th Century to defeat Communism, that we would embrace it voluntarily?