Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This Day in History March 8, 1948

I believe I have heard of McCollum Vx. the Board of Education District 71 court case, but I honestly knew nothing about it.  And it was on this date in 1948 that the landmark decision from this case was decided.

In good old Champaign, Illinois (I have been there since my ex is from Illinois), some religious groups (Catholics, Jews, and others) decided that the public schools could offer religious classes to students as long as it was purely optional.  This began in 1940, and it was McCollum who was an atheist and objected to it.  And perhaps she had a valid point.  Was this really an issue concerning separation of church and state?  Read on.

Well, the court ruled 6-1 that these religious classes were a violation of the First Amendment. Because students were being excused from regular curriculum if they opted for these religious classes, it was in violation of the separation of church and state portion of that amendment.

Now, I am going to step out on a limb here.  I know that people say that it is horrible that religion is outlawed from schools.  There was a time in this country when everyone was required to pray and to study the Bible.  There was a time when one could be expelled from their home if they disagreed with the church (take a look at the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Salem Witch Trials).  Although religion was mandated, did it really change the way people lived? I think a very real case can be created that would point out the evils of a church state.

I am not one who believes that religion should be preached in a public school.  I believe that a student should have freedom to worship at school in their way, but they should not have to do it.  My current issue is that all other religions today seem valid but Christianity.  The last I checked, if a student wishes to pray in a school of their own accord and they are not being disruptive, he/she has that freedom.  I get tired of religious tolerance except for Christianity.  But I'll get off my soapbox for the evening.

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  1. I have to be honest and say that religion just doesn't belong in schools at all- no matter which it is.

    The reason is this: Our schools are underfunded. Even if the classes are purely optional and count only as electives we are still paying the teachers. These are teachers who could be teaching other classes. We are paying for the books, materials, paper, electricity, etc. All of that money could be going toward other classes for enrichment or materials that would help the students grow in the core subjects. In a perfect world where each class had what it needed I would say "go for it." Unfortunately when students are struggling with math, science, and language arts I would rather see the funding go to those areas.

    There is a school in my area trying to add a Bible class as an elective. I am strongly against it for the reasons above. Do I hate religion? Absolutely not! I just think our students should be educated in that personal area in homes by parents.


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