When an organization finds itself squarely in the sights of the ACLU, and other uber-Leftist groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the self-proclaimed "People for the American Way," we can be sure that the organization is exercising its constitutional rights in a meaningful and meritorious way.
Such is the case with a curriculum for teaching about the Bible in government schools developed by the nonprofit National Council on Bible Curriculum In Public Schools. The case against NCBCPS is filed as "Moreno v. Ector County (Texas) school board," but the real plaintiff is the ACLU and the real defendant is, well, God.
NCBCPS is a small North Carolina organization with a nickel-and-dime budget. For ten years, this group has been distributing a teacher guide, The Bible as History and Literature, for school districts desiring to teach about the Bible in that context. NCBCPS provides interested parents a template for introducing the curriculum to their school district in an effort to get this elective high-school course funded.
The NCBCPS course provides students with an entry-level understanding of the Bible's influence in history, literature and our legal and educational systems, as well as art, archaeology and other aspects of civilization. Appropriately, students use the most widely circulated text in history, the Bible, as their textbook.
Though the teacher guide is, clearly, not as well edited as the slick texts produced and marketed by the nation's leading academic publishing houses, the NCBCPS curriculum has, nonetheless, been implemented by more than 400 school districts in 37 states. More than 200,000 young people have been through the course.
Indeed, every student in America should understand the Bible's role in our nation's founding and principles -- and why.
What did our Founders have to say about the Bible? "The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God.... Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts." --John Jay (1784) "Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God." --Gouverneur Morris (1791) "[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths...?" --George Washington (1796) "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --John Adams (1798) "[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments." --Benjamin Rush (1806)
According to Chuck (Roundhouse Kick) Norris, an NCBCPS board member and advocate for government school Bible curricula, "A study by the American Political Science Review on the political documents of the founding era (1760-1805), [reported] that 94 percent of the period's documents were based on the Bible, with 34 percent of the contents being direct citations from the Bible. The Scripture was the bedrock and blueprint of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, academic arenas and heritage until the last quarter of a century."
Unfortunately, in that last quarter century, judicial activists have done everything in their power to Expel God from the academy.
Ken Blackwell, a national advocate for the restoration of our Constitution, writes, "In 1968, the liberal Warren Court carved out a narrow rule that if the government spends any money on something that involves faith, a person can be so offended that this creates a mental 'injury' for which they can sue. This rule, from Flast v. Cohen, [is] a weapon of choice of the Left to purge the public square of all reference to God."
The Left is using that weapon to expel the NCBCPS curriculum from one school district -- and, by proxy, the entire nation.
The ACLU chooses these cases very carefully, mapping the district and circuit courts through which the cases will advance, and only filing suit in locales where they believe there are enough judicial activists willing to do their bidding.
Accordingly, on 16 May 2007, eight parents of high-school kids in the Ector County (TX) school district are suing the school board to have the NCBCPS curriculum removed. One interesting aspect of this case involves the standing of the parents -- none of their children are actually in the course because, after all, it is an elective.
Ector County adopted the NCBCPS curriculum last year after a local resident, John Waggoner, collected 6,000 signatures on a petition asking for a Bible course.
To that end, ECISD school-board trustee L.V. Foreman, a defendant in the suit, exclaimed with typical Texanese eloquence, "If they don't have children in the class, they can kiss my butt. They're just looking to impose their beliefs and their views on everybody and we don't put up with that crap out here."
The NCBCPS has issued a response to the charges, and NCBCPS board member Mike Johnson, legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, says the curriculum "meets all tests" for constitutionality. "As one of the people who read and gave an editorial viewpoint it does a good job of presenting the Bible objectively."
Elizabeth Ridenour, NCBCPS President, says, "The real objection to our curriculum is not the qualifications of our academic authorities, but the fact that we actually allow students to hold and read the Bible for themselves, and make up their own minds about its claims. [Opponents are] fearful of academic freedom and are trying to deny local schools and communities the right to decide for themselves what elective courses to offer their citizens. This is not freedom, it is totalitarianism."
Ah, yes, precisely what Founding Patriot Thomas Jefferson meant when expressing his concern that the judiciary might become a Despotic Branch. "[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not ... would make the Judiciary a despotic branch."
Thirty years after the Constitution's ratification, Jefferson wrote, "The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. ...[T]he germ of dissolution of our federal government is in ... the federal Judiciary."
Five years later, just before his death in 1826, Jefferson warned, "One single object ...[will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation."
Clearly our Constitution forbade such mischief: Arguing for its ratification, Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 81, notes, "[T]here is not a syllable in the [Constitution] which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State."
The first line in our Constitution's treasured Bill of Rights states plainly: "Congress (emphasis added) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." But judicial activists, interpreting the "spirit" of the Constitution, have, in Jefferson's words, rendered it "a mere thing of wax ... which they may twist and shape into any form they please."
Back in Odessa, the ACLU and other plaintiffs may be banking on breaking the bank in Odessa -- in essence, picking a district with limited resources for defense, and hoping to extort them into folding. They also chose Texas because that state's House of Representatives almost unanimously passed a bill authorizing the training of teachers for classes on the Old and New Testaments. That bill is now before the Texas State Senate.
If we were still a "nation of laws," our Constitution would not have been rendered unrecognizable by judicial diktat, and this case would never have gotten through a courtroom door. Unfortunately, the so-called "Living Constitution" today is but a faint shadow of the bold document drafted by our Founders, ratified by the states, and defended with the life blood and sacrifice of millions of Patriots since.