March 8 Marks 65–Year
Anniversary of Banning Religious Studies in Public
Consequential Commentary ^ |
3-7-2013 | Mary C. Kirchhoff
perhaps no group besides American Atheists and the ACLU
who consistently challenge Christian signs, symbols and
Christian tradition more than the Freedom From Religion
has been victorious in many lawsuits and is a thorn in the
side to many Christians who find their tactics to be
militant atheism, and indeed, they are right.
week, FFRF is proudly commemorating the 65-year
Anniversary of McCollum vs. Board of Education on March
8th, a landmark Supreme Court decision which banned
religious studies in public schools.
was brought by atheist Vashti McCollum whose son attended
public school in the Champaign, Ill., school district. The
classes were voluntary, but McCollum declared her son was
ostracized for not participating. The U.S. Supreme Court
ruled 8-1 that religious classes on school property were a
violation of the separation of church and state.
portion of his opinion, Justice Hugo Black wrote: “Here
not only are the state’s tax-supported public school
buildings used for the dissemination of religious
doctrines. The State also affords sectarian groups an
invaluable aid in that it helps to provide pupils for
their religious classes through use of the state’s
compulsory public school machinery. This is not separation
of Church and State.”
Laurie Gaylor, Co-President of FFRF posted a column
commemorating the anniversary both on the groups Web site
as well as their Facebook page.
essay, entitled, “Give thanks to the McCollum Family,” is
clearly a take on Christian’s giving thanks to God. Gaylor
also notes she is en route to a celebration in Champaign
to celebrate the anniversary.
face of bitter defeat in two lower courts, social
shunning, hate mail, reprisal against herself, her family
and her children, Vashti did not give up. She was rewarded
with a historic decision, 8-1, in her favor,” Gaylor
daily invokes the McCollum precedent in our legal letters
of complaint over state/church violations in public
schools,” notes Gaylor.
group lists 12 ongoing lawsuits on its Web site
challenging everything from a painting of Jesus in a
school, to a graduation prayer, to a Catholic Shrine on a
mountain. (Details of the lawsuits can be seen here: FFRF Lawsuits
also writes of the 65-year old ruling, “While we take a
moment to savor this strong ruling, it must be noted that
the Supreme Court has egregiously deviated from the
principles in McCollum in its 2001 Good News Club v.
Milford Central School District decision. What the court
stopped during the school day, it now blesses as soon as
the bell rings at the end of the school day.”
the Supreme Court has been inconsistent in rulings. In
addition to Gaylor’s aforementioned lawsuit, there have
been divergent rulings in lawsuits that were seeking to
remove 10 Commandment Displays – some have ruled the
monuments can stay, while others rulings forced the
removal of the monument in question. (Currently there are
several ongoing lawsuits which seek to remove 10
Gaylor and her cohorts at FFRF are very proud of this
decades old victory that banned religious study in
schools. Vashti McCollum and those like her that have
stood against religion and won are the group’s and
Christians would argue that since these court decisions,
schools have gone downhill with bullying, shootings, and
many children with a general disrespect and disdain for
1940’s, mothers didn’t send their children to school with
the thought that their child could be a victim of a mass
shooting. Indeed, the thought never entered anyone’s mind.
I personally know of one mother who pulled her child out
of public school after the Newtown, Conn., shootings. And
really, who could blame her?
of religion and lack of God in schools has done is
evident. We haven’t gotten better as a society, we’ve
steadily gone down that Godless slippery slope. And that
is no cause for celebration.