Monday, August 9, 2010

The Holy Writ and The Word of God by David Barton

Just these few examples illustrate that our Founders intended to “commingle sectarian and secular instruction in the public schools.” When the Court struck down the elective classes and ruled in favor of Mrs. Vashti McCollum who had initiated action against the classes, Justice Jackson argued in his concurring opinion that the Court had awarded her too much and gone too far. He explained:

The plaintiff, as she has every right to be, is an avowed atheist. What she has asked of the courts is that they not only end the “released time” plan but also ban every form of teaching which suggests or recognizes that there is a God. She would ban all teaching of the Scriptures. She especially mentions as an example of invasion of her rights “having pupils in the voluntarily attended, elective classes learn and recite such statements as, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’ ”And she objects to teaching that the King James Version of the Bible “is called the Christian’s Guide Book, the Holy Writ and the Word of God,” and many other similar matters. This Court is directing the Illinois courts generally to sustain plaintiff’s complaint without exception of any of these grounds of complaint.

Despite the fact that students attended the elective classes only with signed parental permission and that the instructors were non-school personnel paid through private funds, the Court ruled in favor of a single atheist not involved in the classes but who was personally offended by religion and therefore did not want any students taught religious principles. This decision foreshadowed what was soon to become routine: a single individual, unable to advance his or her goals through legitimate political and legislative means, convincing a willing Court to violate the rights of the overwhelming majority of its citizens in order to accommodate the wishes of that individual.

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