I recently wrote an editorial for the Greeley Tribune to rebut a letter written by a local minister. The first item is what the minister wrote The second is the rebuttal I wrote.
#1 Welcome back to government, “public” schools! What part of “public” don’t we understand?
Since we were founded as a Christian nation and started the day standing by our desk, facing that beautiful American flag hanging on the black bulletin board, putting our right hand over our heart, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and listening to a teacher read a prayer. We need to get back to that, now!
We need students, parents and born again pastors to show up at every school board meeting, demanding bibleschools.net, and Good News Clubs for elementary and middle schools, now! Students can also have a weekly Bible meeting at school because of the Equal Access Act!
How many more students will have to die because of murder and suicide before we get it done? I’m so tired of crying at kid’s funerals!
How much more loss before we spend a little money and time to get Christian morals and character back in schools? How many more great teachers and principals are we going to lose or not get because we didn’t vote in conservative Christians in all offices, especially our school boards?
We need a Holy Ghost Revival in our schools and churches, now!
David Meek, USAF veteran, Greeley
#2 A local minister in a recent letter to the editor made some very dangerously inaccurate, un-American claims about the need to force Christianity back into our public schools. The truth is that the U.S. was NOT founded as a Christian nation. The 1797 Treaty with Tripoli clearly stated that, “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion . . . .” This treaty was written under Washington’s presidency, and it was ratified by Congress under John Adams and signed by Adams.
The U.S. Constitution is deliberately secular. It prohibits the government from establishing a religion and from preferring one religion over another or over atheism. It prohibits a religious test to hold any office. It never mentions a deity. Our government is based on the authority of “we the people,” not a king, dictator, or god. The U.S.A. was the first nation in history to separate church and state. It’s one of the revolutionary ideas that makes America great.
The founders knew the dangerous history of combining state and church, and they saw the intolerance and persecution promoted by religion in many colonies – Massachusetts allowed only Protestants and Catholics who renounced papal authority to hold office; New York allowed Protestants and Jews but not Catholics; Maryland gave full civil rights to Protestants and Catholics but not to Jews, freethinkers, or deists; Delaware required officeholders to affirm a belief in the Trinity; etc. The founders knew that Democracy requires secularism.
Public schools are government institutions and, therefore, must be open to children of all beliefs. To declare that schools must be Christian (and one type of Christian at that), is undemocratic, un-American, and un-Constitutional.
Morals and good behavior require intelligent reasoning, not religion. If something is right solely because God commands it, then right and wrong are dictatorial. The idea that God is good would have no meaning because good would be defining itself. If God commands something because it is right, then right and wrong are determined by a moral code independent of God. Also, whose god and moral code is going to be taught.
We see what happens when fundamentalist Muslims control a country, prohibit girls from attending school and kill anyone who disagrees with their dogma; or when fundamentalist Mormons control a cult to require polygamy and child marriages; or when Christian Nationalists gather in large groups, such as the “Unite the right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021. Christian Nationalism believes that Christianity should not just be a part of America, as it has always been, but that it should rule America. Such a theocracy would be the downfall of our nation.
Bibles and institutionalized prayers in schools are steps toward theocracy. Students may pray on their own, but when school authorities promote prayers for students, it is unavoidably coercive. Students who have different beliefs will be ostracized.
Whenever you think our nation or our schools would be better off with your religious teachings, imagine them under another religion, especially one with which you disagree. There is no freedom of religion without freedom from religion. Government, including schools, must be religiously neutral. It is the only way to protect religious diversity.
You may think that requiring Bibles and prayers in public schools is harmless, history teaches us otherwise. “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . We need believing people.” – Adolph Hitler, April 26, 1933
Dr Bob Stewart is a retired clinical psychologist and former Army officer and combat helicopter pilot who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.