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Carol Perkins: National Religious Freedom Day
Previous Column: Carol Perkins: I am a scrapper
By Carol Perkins
Saturday, January 16, is National Religious Freedom Day. As I heard this on the morning news, I reflected on my elementary teachers who read the Bible to us each morning and ended with a prayer. I guess it was the Lord's Prayer; I don't remember. What I do remember is how solemn she was and how attentive the students listened. No one "acted up" during this time or he/she would have suffered for it. However, that was when the only diversity in the room of thirty or forty boys and girls was whether they were Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ, or part of the many of the other churches in the area.
I only knew of other religions through history books. Mainly, I learned from TV (and listening to others) that Russia was a Communist country where no one believed in God. I was wrong about that, but I was young. We heard much about the devil Khrushchev and the impending danger of a bomb.
Bringing religion or worship in a public classroom was never questioned at the time. (Private schools can do what they want.) Some teachers, however, brought much more than was intended to that morning ritual. Many "got on a roll" about sin, evil, and the devil. (I thought the devil was listening outside the door!) Frankly, some of their presentations were scary. One teacher (not mine, but an older relative) daily warned her students that the world was ending soon. This was in the fifties. A child believes the teacher (at least back then), so she spent sleepless nights of dread until she confided in her parents. Her attentive father addressed the matter. She was only seven.
Of course, we know leaders such as teachers and professors do not necessarily believe the way we do. They come from diverse backgrounds: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or among the other 310 religions currently in America.
Young kids, however, are vulnerable, so they need protection from those who "get on a roll." The First Amendment does that for us.
Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." That wall has been tested.
I have also heard comments that the trouble with schools is when religion was taken out of the classroom. More specifically, when God was taken out of the classroom. God is still in classrooms! He is in teachers, staff, and administrators, guiding children by actions rather than words. (By some accounts, so is the devil, and students spotted them.) We are free to worship as we want, but there are sixteen countries not as fortunate: China, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the list goes on. Christians are constantly in danger in those countries. Thank God for America and that we are free!
Carol's most recent book, based on a true story, The Case of the Missing Ring, is available through Amazon, both paperback and ebook. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was posted on 2021-01-15 11:58:38
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