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Schools not in the God business

  • Published Wednesday, August 22, 2012, at 5:57 a.m.

Public school education exists primarily to teach basic skills that will enable students to function as adults. Therefore it is always curious to hear complaints about God being kicked out of the public schools, because schools are not supposed to be in the business of promoting God or any specific religious doctrine in the first place.

As another school year has started, it is important to remind school administrators that public schools are not churches or Bible schools. This seems to be a very difficult concept for some school districts to grasp, as they allow religious fliers to be sent home in backpacks but would never dream of allowing atheist or humanist flyers to be sent home. In the metropolitan area, districts have promoted school assemblies that turned into religious revivals and partnered with churches that openly proselytized to vulnerable students.

The Wichita school district’s own policy prohibits religious materials from being distributed on school grounds. But last year Gideons Bibles were handed out at Coleman Middle School. Instead of acknowledging the incident as a violation of its own policies, the district attempted to craft a legal response that was hardly credible.

Throughout the districts there is a continuing barrage of teachers using their taxpayer-funded classrooms to hang religious messages or posters either on the walls or their desks. Teachers should understand they are not hired to proselytize their faith. Imagine the courage it takes for students to complain to the very person who controls their grades or other school-related activities.

Parents have every right at home and in their houses of worship to celebrate God, but school is not a time of missionary work or worship – it’s a safe space for secular learning.

VICKIE SANDELL STANGL

President

Great Plains Chapter

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Andover

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