For example, many assume high-school administrators are within their rights to prohibit Christian references in valedictory speeches on the spurious ground that they violate the establishment clause of the Constitution. It apparently never occurs to them that when a student refers to Jesus Christ, he is merely exercising his religious liberty under the free exercise clause of the Constitution or a similar provision of a state constitution.
Though both of those clauses in the First Amendment exist to protect religious liberty, the government's practice, as shown by these public school actions, is often to stifle religious liberty in the phony name of protecting it.
A similar misunderstanding -- and I'm giving the offending party the benefit of the doubt here -- is behind a Millington, Tenn., elementary teacher's forbidding her 10-year-old student from choosing God as her subject in an assignment to write about the student's "idol."
Fox News' Todd Starnes reported that the student, Erin Shead, told her mother that her teacher wouldn't allow her to use God because it had something to do with religion and that she had to take her paper about God home because it could not remain on school property. Note that the teacher didn't forbid the student's choice of God on the grounds that God is not a person and thus outside the scope of the assignment. (We'll not explore here the Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ was fully human and fully God.)
No, the ban was apparently on "church/state" grounds. A spokesman for the school district, according to Starnes, said, "Teachers are prohibited from promoting religious beliefs in the classroom."
Fine, but what does that have to do with the incident at hand? This was a student, not her teacher, discussing God.
Our culture is so paranoid about the expression of Christianity in government-owned facilities that some teachers obviously believe that they must forbid their students from voluntarily writing about the God of the Bible in a harmless school assignment.
Can someone please explain how the student's unprompted selection of God as a subject for her assignment violates the Constitution's prohibition against establishing a national church?
It is a sad commentary that militant anti-Christian secularists have bullied passive, lukewarm Christians in our society into surrendering their fundamental religious liberties in so many cases.
Whether the aggrieved parties prevail in correcting this action in Tennessee, the fact remains that Christians' apathy and fecklessness are responsible for allowing such tyranny against their own religious liberties -- liberties whose protection was at the very forefront of the foundation of this nation.