By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday the House Committee on Education and Policy passed HB133, known as the Alabama Released Time Credit Act.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Blaine Galliher (R-Gadsden)
Released Time education is a concept used in the public school system wherein pupils are permitted by law to receive religious instruction during school hours away from school grounds.
The constitutionality of Release Time was challenged in 1952. In Zorach v. Clauson in their ruling the U.S. Supreme Court found that Release Time education was in fact constitutional. In his opinion Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. When the State encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it then follows the best of our traditions, for it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public services to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.”
We now live in a time when the Federal government has turned hostile toward religion. Daily those who wish to worship according to the dictates of their hearts are challenged by those who would have them slaves to the secular state.
It should be alarming to every citizen believer and unbeliever that because of Federal intervention even the Alabama State Legislature must ever so carefully craft laws that would allow our children to learn spiritual truths during their school day. Sadly, many citizens have become all too comfortable with standing silent as faith is systematically tossed on the bonfire of secularism.
The scriptures says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” However, daily our educational system assaults the fundamentals beliefs of many parents and students.
What a sad state we find our country, a nation founded on the principle of religious freedom has been these 50 years progressively bound and gagged by the unbelieving.
Years ago those who would sterilize religious faith took their stand in our nation’s public schools. The indoctrination of our children away from faith and toward state-sponsored atheism has served to bring about a near universal collapse of moral conscience.
I believe firmly in educating young minds in math, science and language, to prepare our nation’s youth in critical thinking, logic and the arts. To educate them in such a way that when they leave public schools they are prepared to go on to higher learning or to earn a meaningful living at any job within their community.
However, I do not believe that excluding religion from education is in anyway necessary of good.
Is science the enemy of spiritual truth? Is critical thinking at war with scripture?
Only to the ignorant, uninformed or willfully blind.
One could teach a class in rhetorical logic using Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. A PhD could be earned in astronomy researching the Star of Bethlehem. The Gospel’s are wonderful examples of literature and style. For those of faith the scriptures hold the answers to eternal questions and the open door to greatest. It is astounding that these works are discard, like so much trash. So vast are the depth of knowledge held in the text of the Bible that only a great fool would think that their exclusion from a full education is healthy or wise.
Some of the world’s greatest minds were immersed in religious study, educated at religious institutions. Men and women of great renown in all fields of art, science, mathematics and philosophy were people of deep spiritual faith.
Leo Tolstoy, arguably the world’s greatest literary genius was a Christian of passionate belief. His novels, “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” are more revered–by even most academics–than any work of any atheists or agnostic writers.
In the realm of philosophy, Hegel is taught widely among academics, he stands as one among many dominants philosophers who changed western thinking yet stayed anchored to Christ.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was one of the great thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is known as the last “universal genius” was a man immersed in religious education. What is to be said of a Einstein, a Copernicus or a James Clerk Maxwell, men who openly embraced God, yet changed the world through science.
Should they had been secularized by American academia the world would be a dry desert of thought and achievement.
Yet today our schools are void of religious studies, of moral certainty and infinite wisdom, why? To not offend, to not impose? I would to God their was a renaissance of offense. For if truth offends let the world be affronted.
The holy ground of great learning is the intersection at which the wisdom of God and the mind of man meet. From that hallowed place comes the wellspring of greatness. I applaud Rep. Galliher and his colleagues for bringing this bill. Sadly, I am also reminded of what great a price our nation has paid to appeases those who know not God, and would banish His wisdom from the halls of learning.