An administrator walked into a classroom and noticed a Bible on the teacher’s desk. Afraid the teacher might read it with students, the administrator ordered it hidden. The teacher could either comply or face disciplinary action.
Discerning Missouri Baptists must be involved in school district decisions that could impact their children. Government-forced vaccinations and masking, the American Humanist Association’s campaign urging students to sit – not stand – during the Pledge of Allegiance and the teaching of Marxist Critical Race Theory (CRT) are issues garnering parents’ attention – and rightly so. All are threats to freedom.
For example, CRT is an academic discipline that claims the United States was founded on racism, oppression and white supremacy. CRT reformulates the old Marxist dialectic of oppressor and oppressed, replacing the class categories of bourgeoisie and proletariat with the identity categories of white and black. But the basic outcome remains the same: In order to liberate people, society must be transformed through moral, economic and political revolution. In the end, CRT divides Americans, encouraging one group to hate the other.
A Missouri poll, conducted Aug. 4-5, of likely Republican primary voters by Remington Research showed a whopping 63 percent said they were concerned about CRT being taught in schools – and for good reason. School board meetings have turned contentious as parents discover CRT has come to their school district. In Springfield, a middle school forced teachers in a diversity training session to locate themselves on an “oppression matrix.” The trainers told straight, white, English-speaking, Christian males that they are members of the oppressor class and a handout warned of “covert white supremacy.” The “1619 Project,” which teaches children that America was founded by slaves in 1619 – not by the heroes of 1776 – has been taught in Kansas City schools. State education officials say CRT is not being taught, but the growing evidence shows otherwise.
State Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, a member of First Baptist Church, Macon, recently led a Senate education committee hearing on the matter and has promised more. State Rep. Doug Richey, pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs, hosted a listening session attended by more than 200 parents. Similar meetings are being held statewide and lawmakers are pledging legislative action when the General Assembly convenes in January.
Not only is CRT incompatible with Christianity (something that has been affirmed by the presidents of every Southern Baptist Convention seminary), it is a threat to the First Amendment rights of educators and students. It will not stop until it has devoured all our institutions: government, the military, the arts and entertainment, corporations, health care, churches and our entire education system.
Gateways to Better Education, a Christian, non-profit organization, has published a pamphlet that outlines what the U.S. Department of Education says about religious expression in public schools. Given these most recent authoritarian threats to religious freedom, here are nine facts for students: 1. They can express their faith in class work and homework. 2. They can pray, read their Bibles or other religious texts, and talk about their faith. 3. They can distribute religious literature. 4. They can wear clothing with religious messages. 5. They can organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and announce their meetings. 6. Their religious club can require student leaders to adhere to its religious teachings. 7. They can be excused from school for religious reasons. 8. They may be able to attend off-site religious instruction and have their religious exercise accommodated during the school day. 9. They can express their faith at all school events.
Educators have rights, too. For example, they can pray at school. “When acting in their official capacities as representatives of the State, teachers, school administrators and other school employees are prohibited from encouraging or discouraging prayer, and from actively participating in such activity with students. Teachers, however, may take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities,” according to the Department of Education. “Educators may also teach about religion. For example, philosophical questions concerning religion, the history of religion, comparative religion, the Bible as literature, and the role of religion in the history of the United States and other counties all are permissible school subjects. It is permissible to consider religious influences on philosophy, art, music, literature and social studies.”
The federal government has made clear that states must have a process for students, parents and teachers to report violations of their rights. Such unalienable rights come from God, not from any king, emperor, president, congress, court or c