Independent Christian Voice

Friday

Church advertisement sent home from school

Winterhawk (a.k.a. 10,000 Fists in the Air) posted the following to his blog yesterday:
I am fairly upset. Today when we picked our oldest child up from school, we went through his bookbag as is our normal practice. As parents today we were shocked to discover that the school had sent home a paper with my son that endorses christianity and is an invitation to participate in a christian function. It is also a solicitation for funds to support christian mission work.

My wife asked me what we should do, and I told her we needed to speak with the school administrators in the morning about how inappropriate this was. It is insulting to us as well as a violation of the Constitution. As I was scanning to document to place it into Ten Thousand Fists, she decided to call the school now, and not wait. I am anxiously waiting to hear what they have to say.

….

Well we called, and left a message that we needed to speak with the principle. We were told he would call us back when he got off his current phone call. 45 minutes later, we called back. No one answered.

He also posted it to one of the premium-access forums on OKC Talk, which spurred a debate on separation of church and state, the pettiness of non-Christians about anything religious and a general "what's the big deal" attitude. I posted this response:
Even as a Christian, I have to say that I have to agree with Winterhawk on this one. To those who are Christian or who are comfortable with Christian principles, it seems to be no big deal. However, if the tables were turned, and a flier was sent home that was an event sponsored by a local Islamic mosque with proceeds going to support local Islamic missions, I guarantee that there would be outrage amongst many Christian parents. If the school sends it home in my child's weekly folder with all the other papers, I presume that it's endorsed by the school. If it is not, why should it be included? (And that goes for anything, not just church activities).) Its inclusion, by default, implies an endorsement, and that could (and likely should) constitute a violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.
Another poster offered this "enlightened" response:
Oh, no, call out the national guard, the US troops, the Navy, and the Marines. Some kid at school received some "religious" material. Oh, what a tragedy!! Give me a break. All the flyer said was that it was from a methodist church and they were accepting donations. It did not say the child had to become a Christian or a methodist. You folks that don't believe in God need to chill out, and quit getting so uptight about some material that will probably improve your child's life. It's insulting to me that people like you have to make a mountain out of a molehill. Have you ever heard of freedom of religion? The school did not endorse a religion. There are many schools that do the same thing, and there is no harm done. I can't believe that you are actually waiting to hear from the school. What are you going to do? Quote the Constitution to them? They have real problems to deal with, and this is not a real problem.
My response back:
I am an evangelical Christian who believes in God, in His Son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. I disagree with the school's decision for the reasons I cited previously in this thread. It's easy when you're the majority to ridicule and ignore the rights of the minority (i.e. the Christian majority vs. the non-Christian minority). But our constitution was established to protect minority rights, including freedom of religion and freedom from the establishment by governmental authority (public schools included) of one religion over another. By sending out this flyer, the school is either actively or out of ignorance promoting one religion. Have the made the same opportunity available to other churches and religions in the community? Schools are not the place for advertising, religious or otherwise. I think that had they consulted counsel before passing out the flyer, their counsel would have frowned upon it because it exposes them to litigation. Shaggy, you are on the wrong side of this issue constitutionally.
His retort:
It's not my religion, but I get tired of all the Christian haters that think if the word "God" is mentioned in school, that their kids might want to know God. What a tragedy. Instead, parents don't give them the chance to, thus robbing their children of the chance to learn. To me, that would be a failure as a parent. Constitution or no Constitution, this is one fight that I will never back down on. Scribe, you say you are a Christian, yet you don't want the message of salvation to be heard? I thought Christians were suppose to spread the gospel, not hold it in because it is "the law."
And my rebuttal:
Christians are supposed to spread the gospel, not the school. We must still respect the laws of this land (see Romans 13), and the law of the land includes separation of church and state. Separation of church and state does not prevent Christians from fulfilling the Great Commission and Christians who think it does are fools.
Have Christians become so lazy that we must rely on the government and public institutions to be the avenue for evangelism? Religious freedom goes both ways. People in this country — and in God's eyes — are free to choose who and/or what they believe in. It's His principle of free will and a purely voluntary decision to choose to accept His love and His grace and His gift of salvation. And that means people have the right, even in God's eyes, to not accept Christianity. It's understandable, then, when non-Christian parents might be concerned when their child's school — a symbol of authority in that child's life — propagates materials promoting a Christian church's event and fundraiser for that church's missions effort. As I mentioned in my posts on the forum, if the tables were turned and the materials were promoting a non-Christian faith, there would be outrage among Christian parents. "Do unto others as you would want done unto you." That's the principle being defended here. I'm not suggesting Christians shouldn't evangelize (even if Winterhawk doesn't like it); I'm suggesting that there are good reasons for the principle of separation of church and state — something that I'll be posting on later.

1 Comments:

  • At 10/01/2005 03:40:00 PM, Blogger aka_monty said…

    I have to admit, my first gut reaction was more in line with the commenter, "why make mountains out of molehills?"
    But then I had to stop and think about the point you made~what if it was a flier for an Islamic function or even an event promoting agnosticism. I'd have been plenty angry about that.
    Nice work. :)

     

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