In the city of Cupertino, California, a fifth grade public school teacher at Stevens Creek School, Stephen Williams, has been prohibited by the principal from distributing the Declaration of Independence among other documents from the American Founding. Why? Because they mention God.
Like the recent challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance, many Americans will view this as an outrage. It is. But it would be a mistake to think that striking down the Pledge or banning the Declaration or any other historical document from our public schools is a new development. The sad fact is that these actions are supported by more than fifty years of Supreme Court jurisprudence. Carried to its logical conclusion, the position staked out by modern courts would prevent not only any mention of God in the classroom, but would render teaching the natural rights principles of constitutional government unconstitutional.
In his dissenting comments in the 1985 case, Wallace v. Jaffree--which struck down an Alabama law allowing students a one-minute period of silent reflection as unconstitutional--Justice Rehnquist predicted that upon the arguments of the Supreme Court, the Pledge of Allegiance could also be held unconstitutional. Two years ago, Rehnquist's predication came true, as a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance represented an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
As Americans prepare to give thanks to God for the blessings they enjoy, many are asking why there is a concerted effort to drive God out of our schools and out of our public square. Modern Supreme Court jurisprudence regarding religion, and the all-too-familiar instances of students and citizens being prohibited from acknowledging the existence or authority of God, are symptoms of the liberal project to remake America.
Thomas Krannawitter and Daniel Palm wrote this summer about the attempt by Los Angeles County to remove a cross from the county seal. Liberals want to remove constitutional limitations on government power, and, at the same time, replace moral, free, self-sufficient citizens with needy, subservient citizens dependent on government. Removing God from the American mind advances both goals.
Understanding that sound government and a free, moral society rest upon a belief in the "laws of nature and of nature's God," California passed a law in 1997 requiring public schools to teach the Declaration of Independence and other documents from the Founding period. By prohibiting Mr. Williams from distributing the Declaration, not only is Stevens Creek School undermining legitimate civic education, they appear to be in direct violation of California law.
John Eastman, director of the Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, commented, "Unfortunately, our courts have abandoned the original meaning of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, and what we are witnessing today is the logical consequence of a half-century of misguided jurisprudence." Eastman, who also filed an amicus brief in the case of Newdow v. U.S., may be reached for comment by members of the media at 714-628-2587.