Separation of church and state is a touchy issue in this country. Assistant Principle Michael Chandler in Alabama filed a lawsuit that resulted in the recent federal court order restricting prayer in Alabama schools. His actions were met with scorn and hatred. He is afraid to drive his Corvette to the school because someone might rake their keys down the sides. Parents are calling him Godless and treating him like a child molester. In the Nov. 10th AP article "Educator Feels Scorn in School Prayer Case" one woman claimed she didnít want him near her first grade daughter. Many people across the US would react in the same manner.
Restricting prayer in school doesnít take away personal freedoms, it protects them by providing a non-biased atmosphere for children to learn in. There arenít that many Muslims in Alabama, but what if there were. There definitely are in larger cities. It wouldnít be fair for them to feel coerced into believing in Jesus Christ by the adults in charge. Think of the confusion the child would feel by being raised one way at home and told another at school.
Many people feel that any religion other then their own is either Satanic or Godless, and they have the right to believe that. However, they do not have the right to force others to comply with their personal beliefs. And that is exactly what happens when religion is allowed to be discussed in a biased fashion at school. Separation of church and state doesnít remove God from the school systems. You can pray anytime you want to. God hears even silent prayers. And just because you canít actively recruit someone to your faith doesnít mean you canít show them through your actions. After all, isnít being a Christian more about treating others with love and kindness than telling them what to believe?
Currently, the idea of separation of church and state is very confusing. Sometimes courts say prayer in state buildings are okay, other times they donít.
In March 31, 1995 the ACLU of Alabama filed a law suit against Judge Moore telling him to discontinue prayer in court and to remove the ten commandments from the wall behind his bench.
Moore claimed that the ten commandments were a major part of the legal system and that prayer was only offered by a minister, not him, only during jury organization sessions. After years of suits and counter suits his case is now ready to be presented before the Supreme Court.
"I donít see how they (The Supreme Court) can avoid ruling on it," Moore said. "Theyíve painted themselves into a corner. Congress opens its sessions with a prayer. The Supreme Court opens its sessions with ĎGod save this honorable courtí. Our coins say ĎIn God We Trustí. How can they be constitutional and what goes on in my court not be?"
He is right. If we are to separate church and state, then they should be separated. This isnít to say that people shouldnít be allowed to have faith in a God. The government just needs to make the guidelines clearer.
However, the issue of separation has turned into zealots crying religious persecution.
"Christians and others who love religious freedom must not sit idly by like we did in the 1960ís when Prayer and the Bible readings were taken from our schools," states Mooreís Web site.
Moore wants the Supreme Court to declare the US a Christian nation. So much for unbiased judges and religious freedom. The Courts ruling will greatly effect how matters of religion and state are handled.
Religious persecution isnít the problem. This isnít Bosnia where you might die for your beliefs. The real issue is religious intolerance which does exist in more states than Alabama. Just a year ago a Pagan in Santa Cruz, California filed an unlawful firing suit against his former employer Radio Shack. He was fired for filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment instead of the companyís proper channels. He had endured such remarks as "How is Satan treating you?" from the management and was refused Pagan holidays off from work despite the fact they had been earlier okayed. Also, a Pagan in a Missouri federal prison was denied books or literature on his faith.
The disagreement over separation of church and state isnít about religious freedom. It is about religious equality. The government should not reflect religious views if they belong to the majority or not. It seems those against separation who are screaming religious freedom are the ones trying to take it away.
Judge Moore's Web Site
This article appeared in Volume 1 Issue 7 of Earth Spirit November, 1997
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