12/02/04 — Stupid or devious? California children protected from Declaration of Independence

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Stupid or devious? California children protected from Declaration of Independence

In this holiday season following a national election, it seems appropriate to reflect on the relationship of Providence and politics. There is indeed such a connection, since our country was founded on the premise that freedoms come from God and the government’s job is to protect them.

In the last few decades, one might wonder whether God is still in charge or whether it is Satan himself.

Powerful forces are seeking to drive any thought of God from government. Their premise is that some people don’t believe in Him and therefore government shouldn’t mention Him.

No such premise is to be found in the documents on which the nation is founded.

The Constitution’s primary reference to such matters prohibits Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. That protects us against an official creed of the type that early immigrants had endured in their home countries.

This is all the First Amendment clause is supposed to do. It was not intended make government an enemy of religion, or even to forbid governmental references to God.

To enlighten us as to what our Founding Fathers were thinking, we can also look at the Declaration of Independence. It notes that the separate and equal station of men is granted by the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” And it says that rights are granted to people “by their Creator.” Note the capital C.

Because that is a reference to the Deity, a public school teacher in Cupertino, Calif., has been ordered to stop distributing the Declaration of Independence to his students. That order is either incredibly stupid or devious.

It is stupid if Cupertino school officials think the Declaration must be shielded from pupils because it mentions God when that is one of the very documents that give us our freedoms. Such a theory is illogical.

It is devious if the school officials are withholding the contents of one of the most important documents known to mankind because they do not wish to concede that it refers to God. That seems most likely.

The teacher, Stephen Williams, is suing. In California, that could be particularly interesting. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers the state, is perhaps the most liberal court in the country. It is the one that ruled against the Pledge of Allegiance in schools two years ago. It will be interesting to see whether these inventive judges find a way to decree that the Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional.

Published in Editorials on December 2, 2004 1:10 PM