From coins missing "In God We Trust" to high school yearbooks replacing "May God bless your life" with "May He bless your life," the media has been picking up this month a larger-than-usual number of reports which could support some claims that American society is more actively making efforts these days to deport God from every place apart from the Church.
Though senseful excuses can be conjured to explain how an unknown number of new George Washington dollar coins could have been mistakenly struck without their edge inscriptions, including "In God We Trust," and made it past inspectors and into circulation, incidents such as the one involving the dozen students in Vancouver, Wash., who were suspended for praying at a high school are cases that illustrate the religious ignorance and God-phobia present in today's society.
"The courts have consistently chided school officials who seek to ban all mention of God from our schools," noted Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, the legal group which had recently asked a high school yearbook staff in Brentwood, Calif., to undo a change that was made to a parent-purchased ad. The ad's content was modified as part of the school's stance to cut religious subject matter.
"Separation of church and state simply does not prevent private individuals from expressing their faith, even in the public school context," Dacus added.
But, as a group of religious and education leaders noted last week, teachers are often not adequately trained to handle religious issues in public schools. Fear of litigation and a misunderstanding of what's allowed under the First Amendment has led some schools to handle religious expression improperly, they said at a conference on the future of religion in public schools.
Furthermore, society's understanding of religion in general would receive an "F" if graded. According to Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University and author of the new book Religious Literacy, America may be one of the most religious countries in the world, but it is also shamefully one of the most religiously illiterate places. He noted that sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and fifty percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.
Many individuals like Prothero believe that religion ought to become the "fourth R" of American education, joining reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The Bible plays a major role in history and is important in understanding many classic literary works, as Georgia Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams had recently noted.
"It's not just 'The Good Book,'" said the Republican senator. "It's a good book."
Thanks to Williams, Georgia is poised to introduce two literature classes on the Bible in public schools next year, a move analysts say would make the state the first to take an explicit stance endorsing — and funding — biblical teachings.
What society needs to realize is removing God from the classroom does not solve or prevent the occurrence of any problems. If anything, such actions cause problems, because no matter which way you look at it, barring God or anything God-related is basically permitting censorship and promoting a godless society over a godly one.
Even gay activists in a liberal city like San Francisco recently allowed evangelical youth to rally there to decry homosexuality without fierce clashes, stating that while they believed the youth are "dead wrong," they are still welcome "to celebrate whatever."
Shouldn't God be welcomed in a great nation such as America – the land of the free – in places beyond the walls of the Church? Or does God immediately become an illegal immigrant when He jumps across the Church-State fence?
As stated by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which ruled a while back that a Ten Commandments display was constitutional: "This extra-constitutional construct (the separation of church and state) has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state."
True. And neither should our society.