The purpose of Our Conscience weblog is to facilitate a greater discussion and understanding of church and state separation in our community and in others. Underlying this is the value that each individual should be allowed to follow the dictates of his or her own conscience without influence, coercion, or direction from the State when it comes to matters of religion.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Show me Teaching, not Preaching

Verne MacKinney (Joplin Globe, March 5th 2006) voiced support for legislation that would "allow public school districts to offer classes in which the Bible is taught" (SB 736) by calling the Bible “the truth.” Verne should be commended for promoting and advocating for our religious beliefs but I would suggest that seeking a government that shares any religious preference is neither in the best interest of religion or government.

The desire for religious uniformity through State coercion seems to me rather insecure. That type of insecurity does little to inspire converts and in fact pushes them away.

The liberal watchdog group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) has made it clear that “objective study about religion in public schools is legal and appropriate.” This bill makes legal, something already legal. What then is the purpose of this bill? Answer: to prey on public misconceptions about Church and State Separation in order to score political points.

The bill is worded in order to avoid Church and State difficulties in making clear what AU also notes about the law, that Bible classes are appopriate as long as the government action has a "legitimate educational purpose, not a devotional one." I believe that we should trust teachers to have the professionalism to teach and not to preach in the context of a government that is doing the same.


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