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America's Culture War: In the News

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Illegal to Teach American History—in America?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

A fifth grade history teacher has been prohibited from using primary American history documents to teach his students. Why? You won't believe it. School principal Patricia Vidmar, with the backing of the Cupertino Union School District (in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Cupertino, California) instructed social studies teacher Stephen Williams to stop using American historical documents in his classes because they refer to God. The Stevens Creek School teacher was informed that the foundational document of American history—the Declaration of Independence—and others like it, possess religious overtones. In addition to the Declaration of Independence, among the materials rejected by the principal as unsuitable for the classroom are George Washington's journal, John Adams’ diary, Samuel Adams’ The Rights of the Colonists, and William Penn's The Frame of Government of Pennsylvania.

Talk about “political correctness” run amok! The case is simply one more instance among hundreds of the widespread misconception that the constitution and its Framers intended to establish a religionless republic. It further demonstrates the conspiratorial-like agenda of liberal educators, judges, and politicians to sanitize American history by expunging the factuality of America's Christian heritage. Make no mistake, if they get their way—and they have made significant strides in the last fifty years—American civilization will continue its downward spiral into moral depravity and eventual dissolution. The Founders themselves so predicted.

For example, Noah Webster affirmed in 1829: “The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government…and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence” (as quoted in Snyder, 1990, p. 253). Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, in a letter to James McHenry on November 4, 1800, claimed: “[W]ithout morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments” (as quoted in Steiner, 1907, p. 475).

The first president and “father of our country,” George Washington, insisted in 1788:

No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass (1835, 9:391-39).

In his “Inaugural Address” in 1789, Washington further asserted: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained” (American State Papers…, 1833, 1:9-10).

The governor of Connecticut (and signer of the Declaration of Independence), Samuel Huntington, said in 1788: “While the great body of freeholders are acquainted with the duties which they owe to their God, to themselves, and to men, they will remain free. But if ignorance and depravity should prevail, they will inevitably lead to slavery and ruin” (as quoted in Elliot, 1836, 2:200).

Many other great Americans understood the connection between America's survival and her attachment to the God of the Bible. For example, Theodore Roosevelt insisted: “A churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid down grade” (n.d.). Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and later U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, explained: “Without God there could be no American form of government nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first—the most basic—expression of Americanism” (as quoted in Claybourn, n.d.).

Even Thomas Jefferson, who is believed to be the principal architect of the Constitution, joined his voice to the symphony of voices that maintained that America's security ultimately resides in its commitment to the one true God—the very God that the California school board seeks to expunge from the classroom: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever” (1787, Query XVIII).

In the spirit of the Founding Fathers, who registered their objections to their British oppressors, social studies teacher Williams has filed a discriminatory suit in U.S. District Court in San José, claiming violations of his right to free speech under the First Amendment. Stay tuned.

REFERENCES

American State Papers: Documents Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (1833), (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton).

Claybourn, Joshua (no date), “God in the Public Square,” [On-line], URL: http://www.hoosierreview.com/claybourn_files/claybourn7.html

Elliot, Jonathan, ed. (1836), Debates in the Several States Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington, DC: Jonathan Elliot).

Jefferson, Thomas (1787), Notes on the State of Virginia, [On-line], URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/jevifram.htm.

Moore, Jimmy (2004), “Teacher Told Declaration not Allowed in Class Due to 'God’ Reference,” Talon News, [On-line], URL: http://www.gopusa.com/news/2004/december/1202_ca_teacher_declarationp.shtml.

Roosevelt, Theodore (no date), “Nine Reasons Why a Man Should Go to Church,” Theodore Roosevelt Association, [On-line], URL: http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/life/Church9reasons.htm.

Snyder, K. Alan (1990), Defining Noah Webster: Mind and Morals in the Early Republic (New York: University Press of America).

Steiner, Bernard C. (1907), The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland, OH: The Burrows Brothers).

Washington, George (1835), The Writings of George Washington, ed. Jared Sparks (Boston, MA: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf).

Whitcomb, Dan (2004), “Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif. School,” Reuters, [On-line], URL: http://www.reuters.com/printerFriendlyPopup.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=6911883.




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