holy opium aplenty (Jesus was a Teacher!)

Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Wed Aug 20 00:53:39 MDT 2003

One of the charges Deweyite Progressives laid against Marxist social
reconstructionists in the Thirties was that their educational praxis was
tantamount to propaganda over pedagogy.  Of course, since they made the
charge first, it could not be turned back on them.  Begs the question,
though.  The following piece should give non-residents of the USA some
idea of what an uphill battle it is to effectuate social
reconstructionist, or revolutionary pedagogy, in the USA (I do have a
favorite quote below, and I'll bet it's the same as yours!):

A Question of Freedom

  Does bringing the Pledge of Allegiance back to Texas classrooms
reinforce patriotism or infringe on beliefs?

  Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram,  Posted on Mon, Aug. 18, 2003

  Millions of students will start school today by reciting the Pledge of
Allegiance,  followed by a pledge to the Texas   flag.

  They’ll then observe a moment of silence, to pray, meditate or simply

  And throughout the day, they may catch glimpses of the national motto,
“In God  We Trust.”

  The changes in school procedure come courtesy of the Legislature.

  “It reinforces the roots of our country, as far as I’m concerned,”
said state Rep.  Ruben Hope, R-Conroe, author of the bill that allows
the placement of the national motto in schools. “It’s part of our
history. I think it’s the basics a lot of our students need to know
about at this time.”

  Many believe that the new visibility of the motto and pledges will
help the next  generation appreciate their country and the role that
religion plays in America’s history. Others believe that the changes
support a national trend toward putting God back in the classroom. Some
atheists and agnostics say they fear that the government is abandoning
America’s promise of free belief.

  Both sides of the debate appear to agree, however, that the
legislation may be too  popular with the state’s citizens, legislators
and courts to overturn easily.

  “We are living in precarious times. The legislation is completely
stepping on the  rights of free exercise of religion,” said Will
Harrell, executive director of the Texas branch of the American Civil
Liberties  Union. “Now people see this as an opening of a gate that
separates church from state. To challenge this is not an easy row to

  Texas is the largest state to require students to recite the Pledge of
Allegiance and  to allow schools to post the national motto. Students
who don’t want to recite the pledges must bring a note from home.

  In 2001, Mississippi became the first state to require schools to post
the motto,  followed by Virginia, Utah and South Carolina. Similar
measures have failed in Indiana and Iowa.

  States that allow or encourage schools to post the motto are Arizona,
Arkansas,  Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan and North
Carolina, according to the American Family  Association.

  In Denver, a federal judge issued a temporary order Friday that
blocked a new  Colorado law requiring public school students and
teachers to recite the pledge. Several students, parents and activists
had filed a lawsuit challenging the law.

  Teachers belonging to the largest teachers union in Tarrant County,
the United  Educators Association, have not objected to the new
requirements, UEA Executive Director Larry Shaw said.

  “I’m sure that there will be one or two folks that have a concern, but
the majority of  teachers are religious folks, and most of them are not
going to have a problem,” Shaw said.

  Nor have parents objected, said Monique Haskins, president of the PTA
council  for the Keller school district. Keller began its school year
Aug. 4, the earliest start date in Texas.

  “It was really neat to have a group standing in front of the flag. I
think it’s a good  way to start the day, especially with the situation
in Iraq,” Haskins said. “I think it’s extremely important that kids
learnabout being patriotic. We shouldn’t have gotten away from this to
begin with.”

  Keller school district spokesman Jason Meyer said he hasn’t heard of
teachers  putting up the national motto, and he said he has heard no
complaints about the new legislation.

  “This doesn’t seem to be a concern to parents in our district,” Meyer
said. “It’s  been a very, very quiet topic.”

  Ana Yanez-Correa, state policy director for LULAC, said that she also
has heard  no objections but that the legislation seems unnecessary.

  “There definitely should be a separation between church and state. Our
priorities  should be to have diversity and that none of our students
feel uncomfortable in   the classroom,” Yanez-Correa said. “But most of
the immigrants are not going to stand up and say, ‘This is a violation
of my freedom to choose.’ Most of us are from a very religious

  One the nation’s leading proponents of posting the national motto in
schools is the  American Family Association, a non-profit organization
that hopes to mobilize   100,000 members and raise enough money to
donate an “In God We Trust” poster  for every Texas classroom.

  “This is not a religion-promoting tool. This is simply our national
motto, and it has a  historical and patriotic purpose,” said Randy
Sharp, director of special   projects for the AFA. “This helps students
to understand how God has been involved in the history of the nation, to
remind them where our rules come from, where our laws come from, where
everything that America is comes from.”

  The American Family Association is based in Mississippi, which in 2001
passed the  nation’s first law requiring schools to post the nation’s

  The AFA is also involved in boycotting the Walt Disney Co., saying
that the  company is “sponsoring deviancy” through its policies, and it
is also seeking to   remove candy, toys and magazines that display
sexually-oriented text from store  checkout lanes, where those items are
visible to children.

  Children of atheists and agnostics are also a captive audience at
school, says the  Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit
organization based in Madison,   Wis.

  “When the motto is on money, it’s small and easy to overlook. But on
the  blackboard, it’s an imposition,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor with the
foundation. “I think   there are religious opportunists who have taken
advantage of 9/11 who try to push  the idea that being a good American
means being a good Christian. I think   they are imposing religion and
God in an overt way.”

  Proponents and opponents alike credit America’s war on terrorism and a
new  political climate for bringing about the greatest shift in these
laws since the 1950s.

  At that time, the national motto “In God We Trust” was adopted and the
Pledge of  Allegiance changed to include the words “under God” as the
United States   was engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Both
the motto and pledge  have since been the focus of litigation in the
nation’s courts.

  In 1994, the Freedom from Religion Foundation challenged the motto in
Denver,  saying that its use on currency violates the Establishment
clause of the First   Amendment. The 10th Circuit of Appeals disagreed.

  Although the foundation is looking for an opportunity for a rematch,
Texas is  probably not the best place for a legal battle, Gaylor said.

  “To have a child staring at the motto and feeling harassed and hounded
may make a  very good lawsuit,” Gaylor said. “But the best test case
would be a   mandatory law in a state under a different circuit court.”

  The ACLU said it has no plans to bring Texas to court over the
legislation -- yet.

  “The moment a teacher, student or a parent says their rights have been
infringed,  we will step up,” Harrell said. “We hope it doesn’t come to
that. We don’t like to   litigate. We don’t want schools to waste their
money in a lawsuit against the  ACLU.”

  www.afa.net, American Freedom Foundation
  www.aclu.org, American Civil Liberties Union
  www.ffrf.org, Freedom from Religion Foundation
  Matt Frazier, (817) 390-7957 mfrazier at star-telegram.com

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