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Blurring the lines between church and state

Updated on September 7, 2009
The corner of confusion
The corner of confusion

Keep Church and State separate

Coach Scott Mooney of Breckinridge County High School in Louisville, KY took a group of football players on field trip to a church where a revival was going on and several of them were baptized without their parents’ permission.  School Superintendent Janet Meeks was at that service. One mother was angered because her husband is Catholic and she is Baptist and they wanted to be a part of this decision with their son. 

Meeks says that none of the students were coerced or forced into going to the service and that parents were told about it.  She also said that it did not violate rules against separation of church and state because the gas for the bus was paid for by another coach.  The pastor at the church said that about nine players came down to be baptized however none of them were manipulated into coming down.

Now anyone who has ever been to a revival knows that the whole process is manipulative and anyone who has ever played on a sports team knows the power of a coaches words to his/her players. So the pastor is a blatant liar because revivals are inherently manipulative because of the stories told and the music used and team sports, especially, football are coercive by their very nature.

Now we hear that a new law in the state of Texas requires teachers to teach bible literacy.  Now, as a literature teacher, I find this an interesting proposition since most of our early American Literature was based on religion and bible beliefs. However, the State of Texas has required teacher to do this without giving them training or telling them how to do it to keep it religion neutral.

Texas has just opened the door for proselytizing by teachers with religious agendas.  They have also broken their own laws by not training teachers to do the job they have given them to do.  The program also lacks funding. This means that how to teach this material is left to individual teachers. Can you see the lines between church and state being blurred?

People have the right to believe what they want. The problem arises with forcing students to read a book they may not believe in.  That goes against the Constitution of the United States.  It also offers the opportunity for teachers with extreme beliefs to ingrain those beliefs in the minds of impressionable students without the consent of those students’ parents. Does this concern anyone else?

How do parents who do not believe in the bible guard against their children becoming indoctrinated with unwanted religious ideas? How do we guard against those who would indoctrinate children with their brand of radicalism or hate that they believe that the bible sanctions?

President Barack Obama took a lot of criticism for just asking kids to pay attention and stay in school.  Yet, no one is screaming about this? I don’t believe in religion.  I think that it has caused or been the catalyst for most of the world’s atrocities. As a literature teacher, I find it an interesting idea of teaching the bible as part of the literary experience.  The problem I have is how do you keep your individual beliefs from being forced on the young minds before you? It is almost impossible.


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