Thursday, November 8, 2012


In 1962 and 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States decided three cases which declared prayer and bible reading in public schools to be a violation of the First Amendment ban on the establishment of religion by the government.
You might wonder why it took 173 years from the adoption of the Constitution before somebody complained about prayer and bible reading in the public schools.
You might even suspect that maybe, just maybe, the people who wrote and voted to ratify the federal constitution didn’t think they were outlawing prayer and bible reading in public schools.
Matter of fact, the Continental Congress in 1787 passed the Northwest Ordinance, which said, among other things that “religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary for good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Folks took those words to heart, back then.
In 1859 Massachusetts law required that the ten commandments be recited in every classroom every morning, and that Bible passages be read aloud.
On March 7 of that year, a teacher at the Eliot School in Boston, Miss Sophia Shephard, called on ten year old Thomas Whall to recite the Ten Commandments.
Young Thomas was a Catholic boy. He refused to recite the King James version of the Commandments.
The next Monday, Miss Shephard called on Thomas again.
He said he was ready to recite the Ten Commandments as written in the Vulgate, or Catholic version of the Bible, but she said that was unacceptable, and called the Principal.
The Principal beat Thomas’s hand with a stick for 30 minutes until it was cut and bleeding, but the kid wouldn’t give in.
Finally, the Principal told all the boys who wouldn’t recite the King James version of the Commandments to leave the school.
One hundred boys walked out.
The next day three hundred more boys left.
And thus began Saint Mary’s Institute, later named for Father Bernadine Wiget, who organized a school for the recalcitrant Catholic boys.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Catholic Bishops had ordered every parish in America to establish a school.
In 1875 President Ulysses Grant called for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the use of public money for “sectarian” schools.
Dubbed the “Blaine Amendment,” it passed the House of Representatives but never got out of the United States Senate.
A number of states have put Blaine Amendments in their constitutions. While they outlaw giving public funds to sectarian schools, they do not prohibit sectarian education in public schools.
So here’s my question: what will the Supreme Court say when someone sues the Dearborn public schools for teaching the wisdom of the Noble Quran as expounded by the President of the United States?
My point is this: schools function “in loco parentis.” That means they act in the place of the parents.
Public school teachers should be able to teach whatever the community wants them to teach.
Neither the Congress nor the Federal Courts have any authority to dictate what can or cannot be taught in a public school any more than they can dictate what can and cannot be taught to children in their homes.
The curriculum of a public school is for the school board to decide, as provided by state law.
People buy houses where they like the schools. If you don’t like what they teach your kids, you can complain to the school board, vote them out, or move.
Or send your kids to the Catholic school.
It’s the American way.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing lesson in history. Thank you. I would only add one comment to the end of your article - "...and if the Catholic schools can't manage to teach Catholicism, home school your children yourself." That is what we decided to do, and have done for years, as have thousands of families like us across Michigan and the U.S. Self-reliance is the American way.