If Democrats want to get back in the "values" game and change the perception of their party as being full of secularists intent on removing any reference to God from culture and even the history of America, they can start in the government schools. That's where reverent or favorable mentions of God are often prohibited, but using His name as a curse word is protected by the same First Amendment that supposedly prohibits the favorable mention of His name.
Democrats have an ideal case that they could make their own in the San Francisco suburb of Cupertino, where a fifth-grade public school teacher has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his school. The teacher, Steven Williams, says he has been prohibited by the school principal, Patricia Vidmar, from teaching the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents of the United States because they often refer to God.
It's one thing to ban contemporary attempts to use the schools to proselytize. It is quite another to censor history. It is a fact beyond dispute that the Founders often referred to God or "Divine Providence" or "the Almighty" in their public lives. Ignoring or censoring such facts presents a false history of our nation and denies students their right to know the truth.
According to Williams' lawsuit, among the other materials rejected by the principal were George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, Samuel Adams' "The Rights of the Colonists" and William Penn's "The Frame of Government of Pennsylvania."
Democrats could make political hay for their party and do a good deed for public school students by opposing the extension of political correctness to history books and historical documents.
Attempts to expunge references to God, past or present, are not limited to one California school. In Maryland, there is a dispute concerning what may and may not be properly taught in that state's public schools.
The Washington Times carried a Capital News Service (CNS) story Nov. 23 that reported that when teachers instruct about the 17th-century origins of Thanksgiving, they can only say the Pilgrims thanked the Indians and cannot say they also thanked God for their safe journey and for the bounty set before them.
The story quoted Charles Ridgell, the director of curriculum and instruction for St. Mary's County Public Schools (they had better change the county's name to something other than "St. Mary's" to be consistent): "We teach about Thanksgiving from a purely historical perspective, not from a religious perspective." It is impossible to accurately teach about Thanksgiving without including the "religious perspective." The Pilgrims believed they were directed by God to make their journey to America and owed thanks to Him for a safe trip and good crops.
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, disputes the CNS report. He says the state does not bar teachers from addressing the religious aspects of Thanksgiving. But school administrators from several Maryland counties said that they don't include religious materials in their curriculums. So while the state may not ban religious historical references, local officials apparently are doing so on their own authority.
This is a ready-made issue for Democrats to jump on and save the history of our country. While they're at it, they might also want to look at efforts by certain Islamists to infiltrate public schools with teachings about their religion.
As Daniel Pipes detailed in the Nov. 24 issue of FrontPageMagazine.com, the 15th tip in a list of "18 tips for Imams and Community Leaders" from the Islamic Web site www.SoundVision.com is "Establish a parents' committee to monitor public schools." The committee, Pipes writes, is to "arrange for Muslims to deliver talks about Islam and Muslims" in the schools.
Pipes summarizes other suggestions from www.DawaNet.com, including: "Lobby to include Islamic dates on the school calendar;" "Add books and magazines about Islam . . . to the school library;" and "Incorporate Islam into class projects. 'For example, if students are required to give a speech in class and they can choose any topic, an Islamic subject should be selected. Similar opportunities can be created in history, social science, writing and other classes.'"
So, while the history and faith of our own country is being erased and a spiritual vacuum created, Islamists are rushing to fill that vacuum with the history and faith of another country.
Will Democrats ride to the rescue?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.