The U.S. Supreme Court struck down religious instruction in public
schools in their McCollum v. Board of Education decision.
The Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling, Tudor v.
Board of Education against the distribution of Bibles by outside groups
like the Gideons.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair sued the Baltimore MD school system on behalf of
her son William J Murray, because he was being forced to participate in
prayer in schools.
The Supreme Court, in Engel v. Vitale, disallowed a government-composed,
nondenominational "Regents" prayer which was recited by students .
In a number of major decisions (Murray v. Curlett; Abington Township School
district v. Schempp) mandatory Bible verse recitation was ruled unconstitutional.
| The public schools controversy
has been with us for three generations. Those who raised their children
in the 50s and 60s are now seeing the results of an educational system
that has become extremely secularized.
The Ten Commandments are
no longer displayed in classrooms.
Classes no longer begin with
This "one nation under God"
has gone beyond the European melting pot of it's past while becoming the
home to those who hale from all over the world; those who do not know the
God of the Bible nor do all of them recognize the Word of God in any way.
This 2000 U.S. Supreme Court
ruling (Santa Fe vs. Doe) says it all, "School sponsorship of a religious
message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members
of the audience who are nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full
members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents
that they are insiders, favored members of the political community. "
| The result of
such decisions, both federal and state, have resulted in a long and bitter
battle between Christians and those who do not ascribe to the Bible.
Baptists have been in the forefront of this battle. In the meantime,
those who oppose the use of formal prayer and the posting of the Ten Commandments
in public schools have had to face the fact that the battle has been lost.
Admitting defeat is not a strong Baptist characteristic nor does this writer
advise that we do so. At least, not yet.
Could it be that we have
been too short-sighted in not realizing that what looks like a victory
for those who
|deny the Word of God may be in fact present
a tremendous opportunity to teach a whole new generation the joy of being
soul-winners and witnesses for Jesus Christ?
For example, did you know
that students in U.S. public schools are free to:
One might even argue that we
had become too complacent in our own public schools when God and the Bible
were included in the everyday educational program. Young people may
have grown up in such an environment assuming that they were Christians
without every experiencing the spiritual rebirth. However, there
can now be no mistaking the difference between those who are born again
and those who
Take Bibles or other religious texts with
them on the school bus.
Pray alone or in groups at the flagpole or
elsewhere on school grounds.
Pray in classrooms outside of regular teaching
Say grace and/or pray in a school cafeteria.
Form a Bible study club or any other religious
club, if even one student-led group is already allowed in the school. This
is a guaranteed right under the federal Equal Access Act of 1984.
Students can wear T-shirts with religious
text. They can wear religious jewelry (buttons, symbols, crosses, stars
of David, pentacles, etc).
Students can hand out religious materials.
Could it be that this very
diliniation between the saved and unsaved presents us with a wonderful
challenge to train our children to be witnesses for Christ in a field that
is more wide open than ever before for evangelization?
Could it be that those who
now come to the USA from so many foreign lands are the result of God, in
fact, bringing the mission field to us?
Could it be that, instead
of bemoaning a lost battle, God is challenging American believers to revive
our long history of being an evangelistic soul-winning people?
Perhaps the sin is not so
much that of a nation turning away from God as it is we believers who had
become so weak in regard to our responsibility to be witnesses for the
Lord Jesus Christ.