Chinn fights to protect historical documents
Bill will keep them in public schools
By Barbara Shoun
April 4, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – Teachers in some East Coast and West Coast states have been intimidated into not using historical documents that contain references to God, but some Missouri legislators are working to assure that students in Missouri’s public schools have access to the factual information they contain.
Rep. Kathy Chinn, R-Clarence, has filed House Bill 1474, to be known as “The Founding Documents Protection Act,” which would allow the reading or posting of important historical documents in schools.
The legislation specifies such documents as the Preamble to the Missouri Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and others.
Chinn cited incidents in other states where administrators have reprimanded teachers, claiming the documents were of a religious nature. She also noted a ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California which said the use of the Pledge of Allegiance was illegal because it contains the words “under God.”
“This doesn’t have anything to do with religion when you get right down to it,” Chinn said. “We want the students to learn exact language. We want them to see the documents. We don’t want school teachers or administrators or school boards themselves to come into lawsuits.
“We don’t want this to happen in Missouri. I think it’s time we make sure our precautions and protections are put in place. We want to teach what is actual and true and not be afraid.”
Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), said the commission has been working on this legislation for many years.
“It’s time that we stop the censorship in our students’ education,” Messer said. He explained that censorship occurs through an atmosphere of intimidation that has been created by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and People for the American Way and other groups that are focused on revisionist history.
“For the teacher in the classroom, there’s not enough support or encouragement from the state,” he said. “When the teacher takes note of inadequate history lessons or basically false information in a textbook, they’re intimidated not to supplement with information from America’s Christian heritage.”
Messer said many readers of The Pathway will have gone to school at a time when such documents as George Washington’s Farewell Address or the Mayflower Compact may have been required reading.
“Documents that used to hang on the wall in the classroom can’t even be found in public schools anymore, not even in the libraries,” he noted.
Chinn’s bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jack Jackson, R-Wildwood, and is identical to Senate Bill 806, which was introduced in the Missouri Senate by Sen. Chuck Gross, R-St. Charles. This is often done to increase the chances of the legislation getting passed.
Chinn said she is hopeful that both bills will be passed as consent bills. This would limit or rule out amendments being added to the bill. Consent bills are non-controversial bills that do not cost anything to implement. If it goes as a consent bill, she will have a much better chance of getting it on the floor for a vote.
However, as of press time, there was some discussion that at least two members of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, which heard the bill, might refuse to let it be presented as a consent bill.
Messer said he appreciates the work Chinn, Jackson and Gross have done on these two bills.
“We are thrilled these men and women have picked up this banner and have carried it into the fight,” he said.