Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On God in Schools....from a teacher

I'll start this off by saying that you may not agree with me. I'm okay with that. Actually, that is kind of my point about all of this.

The first position I take on this is that I am unashamed to say that I am a Christian. Not a Christmas & Easter or only on Sundays Christian but a person who has a genuine faith in Christ and seeks to live my life differently because I trust in His teachings. I believe in the seen and the unseen. The temporal and the eternal.

The second position I take is that I am a teacher. I have taught in both public and private schools. I have been employed to teach students about the world and how to be good citizens of the world. I have been employed by the church to teach students about God and how to be citizens of Heaven.

Thirdly, I am American. I have traveled out of the country and I have experienced third world conditions and governments who oppress their people through laws or intimidation. I love America. I love our diversity of land and people. I love that we have the freedom to move within her borders and express our opinions, disagreements, and elect our leaders.

With these three understandings I would like to talk about my position on God in schools.

I start with sharing my belief in the character of God. I believe his Word to inform and form my understanding of Him. Psalm 139 asks the question "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" The passage continues to answer the question....there is no place on Earth where the presence of God is absent. In the book of Job, God finally gets his say and begins to question and instruct Job (and us!) about how the earth and its inhabitants live. God is big enough, capable enough and qualified enough to be anywhere He chooses. So, I firmly believe that God is present in schools.

I have had the experience of attending and teaching in public schools. My experience was positive and a privilege. Never once was I instructed or restricted from expressing my personal faith. I decorated with posters that had verses, offered to pray with students and coworkers, and shared by interpretation of facts, literature and history from a Biblical Worldview. I was never reprimanded or discouraged from these expressions. In fact, legally a teacher can address the topic of faith in the classroom. Students can also discuss faith. Many secular literature textbooks contain large portions of the Old and New Testament as literary examples. Many states have time within the school day to attend religious instruction.God is discussed and studied in schools.

We live in America. We fundamentally value the freedom of/from religion. The pilgrims fled to this land because they were not free to express their faith as they wanted. Do we forget it was "The Church" that pushed them out? As a believer, I want there to be a separation of church and state. I do not want anyone and everyone to have the opportunity to teach their interpretations of "god" to my children or my students. By demanding public prayer in school or the insistance that the 10 Commandments be posted, we are also opening the door for each faith to have equal time or position. Isn't that fair? Isn't that America?

When people wax on about God being erased from schools, I think they are looking for something different than God. They are seeking societal morals. Governmental religion NEVER works. Look at Europe and how they have become a secularized society in rebellion to the state church. Look at Asian nations that have used Atheism as a method to rule their people. Religion cannot be legislated. Values are passed from person to person, generation to generation. So, the question we believers must ask is am I passing my values to another person or the next generation?

Are we asking God to do a job He has already given to us? He is present in the schools. He has invited, instructed, and equipped us to be His representative in the lives of others. Have you taken every opportunity to be loving and kind to "the least of these?"Every class seems to have at least one kid that has been set aside because they are weird, different or difficult. Has that kid come for dinner or a sleep over at your house? Have you invested in the outcasts of society to show them love and compassion? What would our schools, our society, look like if each person felt valued and as though they were living out God's purpose right now?

Perhaps before we demand prayer in school, we should demand ourselves to be "the change we wish to see in the world." What a great honor and so very humbling that God has chosen such imperfect and weak people to be His representative! Oh, that God would consume my words and deeds so that I may live His teachings.

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