DAVID ROSMAN: Senate resolution puts religious freedom in Missouri at risk

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:39 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Allow me to start this conversation by saying that though I realize that the separation between church and state is not absolute, its importance cannot be denied. By keeping government out of religion, this separation also keeps religion out of government.

This is where some have a misconceived belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation or that religion should interfere with government. The research for my book “A Christian Nation?” found no evidence to prove that religion was a mainstay neither for the original colonization nor for the writing of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation or the Constitution.

In these documents, “God” is mentioned once, but as “Nature’s God,” not a Jewish/Christian/Muslim God.

“Religion” is mentioned three times: once in the Articles of Confederation concerning mutual defense (Section III), in the Constitution concerning qualifications to hold office (Article VI, Clause 3) and in the First Amendment.

“Lord” is mentioned once.

Jesus, Christ, Christianity, Christian, Jewish, Jew, Islam and Muslim do not appear.

So what does this have to do with Missouri’s Senate Joint Resolution 47? The summary of the bill states: “This proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by voters, would modify Article IX, Section 8, ... (by instead providing) that nothing will prohibit the enactment of legislation pertaining to any education program, funding, or other support to benefit children attending any Missouri public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school, so long as the legislation complies with the requirements of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

There are many problems with this action, even without the religious overtones. One of the most important is that private and parochial schools are exempt from the Missouri Assessment Program tests, so there is no legitimate method of measuring performance. If the state is licensing the programs to educate our children, why are these programs exempt from the one avenue to make sure our children are educated to the standards that publicly schooled children are held?

As important, there is the lack of any concern by our legislators that by allowing government fund to religious schools, the government of Missouri is messing with religion — something even constitutional purists can see if they would only open their eyes. If the tea party, libertarians and other conservative groups want to live the Constitution as originally written, SJR 47 is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

As we decry the perception that our public schools are failing, we must ask ourselves, “Why?”

Maybe it is because the public school system is held at a higher standard.

Maybe it is because those under the Gray Dome continuously underfund K-12 education, causing buildings to crumble and teachers to purchase supplies with their own money that the public education system should supply.

Maybe it is because public education will not and should never teach creationism as a science. In a philosophy or a religion class, yes, but never as a science.

Maybe it is because the religious, conservative movement wants to indoctrinate our children in their religious beliefs and stop them from learning about critical thinking and listening — to stop them from asking those questions that religion cannot answer.

The religious overtones of this and other voucher programs are overwhelming. Our students are falling behind in mathematics and the sciences — real sciences. Foreign students coming to Missouri’s colleges are better equipped to tackle these subjects than our homegrown students.

It is my opinion that Americans have become afraid of the sciences, afraid of free thought and of questioning articles of “faith.” It is my opinion that those of religion, especially conservative Christians (not all, but a vocal minority), are afraid that science will destroy their religions and sects and that their interpretations of their scriptures will be found false.

We cannot and should not allow SJR 47 to pass the Senate vote. As of Monday, SJR 47 is scheduled as No. 19 under “Senate Bills for Perfection.” By the time you read this, the resolution will have either passed or failed the vote.

It must be the latter. If not, religious freedom in the state of Missouri will be put at risk.

If not, religion could have a free hand in indoctrinating our children to the Christian faith outside the will of their parents.

If not, we will be throwing the education system back to the Dark Ages, when religion was king and the sciences were on the executioner’s block.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.

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Ron Fauss March 21, 2012 | 4:35 p.m.

"If not, religion could have a free hand in indoctrinating our children to the Christian faith outside the will of their parents."

... What Christian schools are public? It's the parents / guardians putting the children in the Christian Schools to begin with, you dolt ...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 21, 2012 | 5:26 p.m.

I think this is the bill. If so, Dave, you left stuff out.

Such as: We get to vote on it in November 12, 2012, if it passes. Absent this info, the inference in your missive is that this is a unilateral action on the part of the Missouri legislature. Yes or no?

What do the bracket's mean? Is this what is taken out in the revision and the BOLD is what is put in?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 21, 2012 | 5:30 p.m.

Good point.
Also, government run public schools currently indoctrinate students into liberal progressive beliefs.
And as for separation of church and state:

(Report Comment)
Ken Geringer March 22, 2012 | 7:06 a.m.

Ray, you sometimes sound like the person who will not ride on the top of a double deck bus.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman March 22, 2012 | 9:42 a.m.

As always gentlemen, thank you for your comments.

Ron, you are correct, if SJR 47 passes, the issue will go to the public, but I believe it should never get that far.

A big thank you to Jack from Jefferson City who contacted me by telephone today (Thursday). He said he loved the column, agreed whole-heartily and hoped that I would educate the other commentators. In that regard, I am not concerned about Rose, but Karl is a hard cookie to crack. (:~)

By the why, if you haven't read Karl's response to my column from last week, please do so. I think it was well written and insightful.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman March 22, 2012 | 9:52 a.m.

Post Script - As of 9:50 am, SJR is still waiting action.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen March 23, 2012 | 11:30 a.m.

Mr. Shapiro writes, "government run public schools currently indoctrinate students into liberal progressive beliefs."

Progress is a bad thing? Where would be be without it? Just as conservatism is needed for us to have a common bond and purpose, progressive liberalism is needed for us to keep pace with the world, especially if we want to excel.

We shouldn't forget that in early education, when children think concretely, we teach them WHAT to think. Upon adolescence, when they are able to think abstractly, we teach them HOW to think. In order to teach critical thinking skills, information that you don't necessarily agree with needs to be presented and considered. Absent this, all you can accomplish is indoctrination. Education is not just job preparation. It teaches us how to be an informed citizenry, which our founders thought necessary in order to prevent being ruled by abusive authority. Like it or not, this is how our great nation was structured.

I dream of the day when we return to thinking of things in terms of Right and Left, not Right and Wrong.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 23, 2012 | 12:20 p.m.

And I dream of the day when our ever growing and over influential federal government dismantles its massively funded bureaucratic Department of Education and allows states and local citizenry school boards make decisions for themselves and their children.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 23, 2012 | 12:45 p.m.

Too bad all of our "pundits" can't agreeably disagree like Dave and Karl !!!

Thanks !!!

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 23, 2012 | 12:59 p.m.

Gregg Allen - If you are hoping that Mr. Shapiro would be upset with your post, I would submit you would be wrong. Nearly every sentence of yours proves him right about indoctrination by liberal progressives.

Progressive liberalism is in no way helping us "to keep pace with the world". Rather, since 60s at least, liberals, mostly Democrats in our government, have constantly worked to bring our USA Down to the level of the rest of the world by restriction of energy sources devaluation of our dollar and yes, Their education of our youth.

Our country was founded with the idea that youth be supplied with an early education that taught them HOW to think. To write their thoughts and to read them. "Upon adolescence" they were provided with truthful material to enable them to learn WHAT They Wanted to learn.

"Education is not just job preparation. It teaches us how to be an informed citizenry, which our founders thought necessary in order to prevent being ruled by abusive authority." Unbelievably twisted! Hitler taught his youth "to be an informed citizenry" and how to Accept "being ruled by abusive authority." Most societies have tried to avoid these teachings, but, here come the progressives.

Those preferring not to be hampered with "right & wrong" may be referred to as anarchists. Is that you?

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen March 23, 2012 | 3:55 p.m.

A feint toward ad hominem, Mr. Christian. I will not join.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 23, 2012 | 5:02 p.m.

"A feint toward ad hominem, Mr. Christian. I will not join."

A lame admission of factual defeat, but, I accept.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop March 24, 2012 | 2:24 a.m.

There has never been separation of church and state beyond Jefferson's letter. We have always opened congress with prayer. We have military chaplains, and chapels on military posts. We have crosses, stars of David, and Islamic symbols in our national cemetaries. As JFK said in his inaugural speech,

"And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."

Anybody see anything dangerous in those comments?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 24, 2012 | 8:59 a.m.

Don asks, "Anybody see anything dangerous in those comments?"

Apparently so.

The generosity of the state can easily turn into miserliness. If the state can giveth, the state can taketh away. Our founders dismissed and rejected this notion in their verbiage in the Declaration of Independence which states, in part, "...that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,..."

"Inalienable" means it can't be taken away, and it can't be given away. "Endowed" means "granted" by a higher power.

(BTW, Dave missed the word "Creator" in his numerical accounting. He didn't read far enough.)

But, let's look at the whole second sentence in the Declaration: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Given these words, I have no idea how Dave can conclude he "found no evidence to prove that religion was a mainstay...for the writing of the Declaration of Independence..."

Hell, it was the underpinning of the entire separation document!

After all, without a "granting" of rights by a Creator, the entire justification for separation from England is entirely moot. In a secular world, England would have had as much claim over the colonies as the colonies would have over themselves. There would be no referee, no arbiter for the right and claim to freedom. Without the underpinnings of "religion" and conferred rights, the entire Declaration simply becomes a "he said, she said" argument.

No mainstay?????

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 24, 2012 | 9:21 a.m.

Dave also missed "divine Providence" with a capitol "P" in the last line of the Declaration, to wit:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Call up the Declaration, then read it as if the first 3 paragraphs do not exist. All it becomes is a list of complaints with no underlying moral authority.

Religion WAS the mainstay; without it, the document is nothing but a gripe sheet.

(PS: Dave doesn't directly say so in his article, and I haven't read his book, but I suspect he believes the original basis for colonization was business, not religion. I agree (although the Puritans might disagree). Whatever the case, much of the subsequent mass migration to the new world DID have religious-freedom motives.)

(Report Comment)

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