separation of church and state

Living as a Democrat in rural, Republican Florida challenges one’s sense of inclusiveness and social propriety.  A recent controversy in local politics regarding funding our library’s request to make the New York Times available online to library cardholders is a case in point. My friend at BY HOOK OR BY BOOK has shared a great post regarding this issue.  It is indicative of a population which refuses to leave the 1950s.

On Florida’s horizon is a bill filed by a State Senator which would require courses be made available in our public schools at taxpayers’ expense providing studies of the Bible.  The following is the letter which I have submitted to our local newspaper.

State Senator Dennis Baxley, a Republican representing the Ocala region, has filed SB 746 to be considered during the 2020 legislative session. The bill would require courses providing studies of the Bible’s Old and New Testaments in public schools. According to the sponsors of the bill, “all state and federal laws and guidelines maintaining religious neutrality” would be maintained.

One can easily favor this endeavor to educate students regarding religious doctrine because the writers of SB 746 guarantee that such studies would not “endorse, favor, or promote or disfavor or show hostility toward a particular religion, religious perspective, or nonreligious faith.”

Certainly it would be educational and advantageous for students to learn about man’s trek across the numerous religious philosophies created throughout history by holy men, theologians and scholars to instruct, comfort and control the masses. However, knowing the history of our state’s policy-makers, can we be assured that their explicit guarantee of neutrality will be followed? It sounds reassuring today, but, what will our teachers, students, and public schools face 5 or 10 years from now? Would it not be wiser to focus this Christian educational effort in the hands of the experts in religious education – our county’s esteemed parochial schools where children are educated in an atmosphere conducive to their family’s beliefs?

Of course, should these religious studies include all the major faiths of our world including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam among others worthy of study, then, perhaps this bill could provide a well-rounded education to young people regarding various man-created philosophies of religious belief.

The key word in SB 746 is public – public education system. It is our duty to oversee and maintain this public system serving the diversity of religions, races, creeds, and lifestyles which make us a strong melting-pot nation. E Pluribus Unum, on the Great Seal of the United States, was a motto included on the seal in 1782. It means “out of many, one.” That is who we are. We are one people, one nation worshipping or not worshipping as conscience dictates. We are church people and synagogue people and mosque people and temple people. I applaud our legislators’ work to introduce religious studies into our public schools, but let’s include all faiths as worthy of study, not just Christianity and Judaism. I would enjoy a course in Buddhism, my neighbor favors Islam. Red-blooded American citizens, we are E PLURIBUS UNUM.

17 Replies to “separation of church and state”

  1. Reblogged this on By Hook Or By Book and commented:
    In my last post of yesterday, I shared an outrageous case of censorship perpetrated by a board of commissioners in Citrus County, Florida against free digital access to the NewYork Times to library users. My friend Larry lives in Citrus County and has written this excellent post on a bill filed by a state senator which would mandate the study of the Old and New Testaments in public schools. All funded by taxpayers of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have these people never read the Constitution? Have they never heard the term “Separation of Church and State”? Do they not realize that there are those of us who consider the bible to be a work of fiction? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Excellent letter, Larry! I hope they publish it and that their bill fails miserably! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the read and comment. This is a dangerous precedent. If the purpose is to present to students the great wisdom and beautiful literary value of great scriptures including the Bible, the Vedas, the Quran, then it could be educational and enlightening. But I fear, considering the evangelical drive, that it is intended to present the Bible as the inerrant, infallible word of God. I support separation of church and state because I don’t want state telling me what I should believe just as your don’t want church telling you what to believe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you mind if I re-blog your post? I agree that it is indeed a very dangerous precedent, and flies directly in the face of the U.S. Constitution. If I were a parent of a school child there, I would be raising so much bloody hell they’d wish they lived in Fiji! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Separation of church and state … a simple concept, right? The government will not support one religion over any other. And yet, as Larry tells us, down in Florida (and other places as well) they are attempting to do just that, by trying to pass legislation that would make the study of the Christian bible mandatory in schools. What about Jews? Muslims? Atheists? Hindus? This nation is only about 70% Christian, so … why should they dominate? Please take a few minutes to read Larry’s excellent post. Thank you, Larry, for permission to share your work!

    Like

  4. That Senator might think it would be a GRAND thing to include studies on the Old and New Testament in the educational system. However, far more inclusive, relevant, and educational would be a course on World religions. But horrors! That might be a course that would actually broaden the knowledge of students … rather than convert them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, my point exactly. There would be nothing wrong with gaining an understanding of all the religious philosophies if they are presented as philosophies and not the inerrant, infallible word of God. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  5. I wonder if State Senator Dennis Baxley knows that “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Most people under 70 years old don’t. Many of them probably think George Washington brought the current Pledge with him … when descended from some mountain. 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

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