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For heaven's sake, don't mention God! In a case of "turnabout is fair play," Stephen Williams, a history teacher, is suing a school district because the school district won't let him mention God in his lessons.

In the latest attempt to eradicate all public mention of Christianity, the principal of Stevens Creek School (of the Cupertino Union School District in California) has prohibited a teacher, Stephen Williams, from distributing historical documents to his fifth-grade history class, on the grounds that they contain references to God.

Was Williams distributing potentially controversial documents? Hardly. Among the documents deemed inappropriately religious by school principal Patricia Vidmar are excerpts from the following:

* the Declaration of Independence;

* diaries and journals of John Adams and George Washington;

* writings of William Penn;

* several state constitutions;

* "The Rights of the Colonists" by Samuel Adams; and

* a handout entitled "Fact Sheet: Currency and Coins--A History of 'In God We Trust.'"

It's not like Williams doesn't use any other materials in supplementing the fifth-grade history text. In fact, only about five percent of his supplemental handouts contain references to God or Christianity. But in May of 2004, Vidmar began requiring Williams to submit to her all of his lesson plans and supplemental handouts for review in advance of his using such plans and handouts. According to Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) spokesman Greg Scott, Williams is the only current Stevens Creek teacher to be required to submit his materials for review.

Since that time, Vidmar has systematically rejected proposed lesson plans and handouts that contain references to God or Christianity. The ADF, a religious-liberties public-interest legal group, has filed suit on behalf of Williams. According to the ADF, Vidmar is apparently singling Williams out as a "known Christian," since other teachers in the school are allowed to show films and distribute handouts containing references to God.

Williams takes his teaching job seriously and wants to ensure that his students understand the period of history that they are studying. To do so, he uses supplemental materials that underline and expand on the material covered in the textbook. In fact, the textbook chosen by the school district, A New Nation: Adventures in Time and Place, does not meet either the state's or the school district's education standards about what is to be taught and, therefore, requires the use of additional materials. Also, California state law allows references to religion when such references "are incidental to or illustrative of matters properly included in the course of study." And before quashing an Easter-related assignment in which Williams assigned students to read a section of the Bible's Book of Luke, the school had allowed him to teach lessons about other religious observances, including Ramadan and Diwali (the Indian religious celebration better known as the "festival of lights"). Like the previous assignments, Williams was putting the Easter lesson in its cultural context.

"I'm very impressed by the depth he goes to teach history, and the documents he provides. He doesn't underestimate his students," says Scott. In Scott's opinion, Vidmar's apparent vendetta is preventing Williams from being the best teacher he can be. ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb says: "The district is simply attempting to cleanse all references to the Christian religion from our nation's history."

Secular Humanist Assault Intensifies

Everyone is familiar with the numerous lawsuits associated with public displays of the Nativity Scene and the Ten Commandments, and the recent flap about the words "under God" appearing in our Pledge of Allegiance. But the Williams v. Cupertino case takes the secularist assault against Christianity to a new level. If a history teacher cannot freely use the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents from our Founding Fathers in his coverage of the American War for Independence, then how long before the Constitution itself is declared off limits? Bear in mind that Article 7, Paragraph 2 states, "Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven...." (Emphasis added.)

Historical documents aren't the only thing under attack. The ACLU recently won a case requiring the city of Redlands, California, to remove the cross from its city logo, but lost a similar case in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Not one to give up, the ACLU has filed another case in Los Angeles. Douglas W. Kmiec, chairman and professor of constitutional law at the Pepperdine University School of Law, said, "I think this is unfortunately an all-too-commonplace effort to revise history and to expunge from the historical record all evidence of religious belief."

Speaking of Las Cruces and Los Angeles, not to mention San Francisco, Santa Monica, San Diego, and many other cities in the United States, can it be long before secular humanists decide that these names are too religious and need to be changed? What about our money? How soon before "in God we trust" is considered an overt religious statement (which, in fact, it is), and we are forced to use new currency without this shocking reference to Christianity?

Lest such speculation be considered excessive, consider the policy presently in place in the Piano Independent School District, located in Texas -- the buckle of the proverbial Bible Belt. District policy governing "Winter Break" forbids students to exchange candy canes or pencils bearing religious messages, or writing "Merry Christmas" on greeting cards sent to soldiers. Incredibly, wearing red and green is prohibited, since those colors are associated with the holiday whose name must not be uttered in public.

"Separation of Church and State" Myth

The current popular interpretation of "separation of church and state" is a myth based on an inaccurate representation of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist minister. Jefferson meant to assure the Baptists they had nothing to fear from the federal government. But his meaning has been stood upon its head by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with legal secularists serving on the Supreme Court, who insist that Jefferson meant to prohibit any public display of spirituality. As John Eidsmoe, professor of constitutional law at the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, Faulkner University, Montgomery, Alabama, states, "In separating church and state the Founders' intent was not to protect the federal government from religion, but to protect religion from the federal government."
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Title Annotation:Culture War
Author:Gilmore, Jodie
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jan 10, 2005
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