Kudos to Fayette County Public Schools, where administrators deserve a medal for creativity, problem solving and cutting costs, all very much needed in our public schools.
Because Kentucky legislators like to focus on weighty issues, they recently passed a law that required all schools to post “In God We Trust” prominently in their halls. Other schools have bought big signs; Fayette County simply provided framed $1 bills to all their schools, showing the back with the required motto.
Good for them, and any other districts that came up with this extremely neat solution. I sincerely hope there’s no backlash from the state or anyone else.
While we’re at it, kudos to Anderson County High School, which recently dropped a Bible literacy class elective, now allowed under a 2017 law passed by the brain trust in Frankfort. Instead, the school will offer a world religion class, which offers important cultural and historical information that’s different from what is preached in church.
Of all the cons perpetrated on the American public by the religious right, none is more pernicious than the idea that this country was founded as a Christian nation, in which Christian doctrine should be practiced and enforced by governmental entities. It’s almost like they missed the part about the Puritans who came to America to escape religious persecution in England, or the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which says the government can neither establish religion nor prevent anyone from their free exercise of it.
If we’re going to be fundamental, let’s go back to founding father Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in 1802 a rather famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
What’s so strange about these kinds of moves is that the United States is clearly dominated by Christianity at every turn, yet so many Christians think atheists are waiting around every corner to shout, God forbid, “Happy Holidays!” Yes, Christians in Egypt and Syria are persecuted. Here, not so much. Last year, the state ACLU found numerous schools where the Bible “literacy” classes were being taught with curriculum from churches. Many years ago, I went to a tiny elementary school in Eastern Kentucky, where part of class was putting felt Bible characters on a cloth to create biblical stories. I was shocked but shouldn’t have been.
The motto bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville told WKYT in June that he was “enormously proud of this legislation ... which sends a message that our national motto is nothing to be ashamed of.” That’s interesting because this national motto was only adopted in 1956, replacing “e pluribus unum,” which means, out of many, one. That basically came in reaction to the looming power of the Soviet Union. People who believe in the separation of church and state have been fighting it since then, too.
This story has now made headlines all over the country, showing the world something to be ashamed of: These back door shenanigans that legislators commit while they should be figuring out how to properly fund Kentucky’s education system. Thank goodness some of our educators found a good solution.
Linda Blackford writers columns and commentary for the Herald-Leader.