In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District[i] the court prohibited any suggestion in teaching science that there was a Creator doing the creating. The court admitted that “To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution [which the court found excluded any role for a Creator] is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.” In fact, the judge was eager to give science a complete free pass: “Expert testimony revealed that just because scientists cannot explain today how biological systems evolved does not mean that they cannot, and will not, be able to explain them tomorrow.” It was enough to discount the existence of a Creator that things “could have evolved” and that science has “identified a possible precursor.” The court’s conclusion: only a non-religion (=atheism) explanation for life is permissible. What a perfect example of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. See truthtofreedom.com blog “MIRACLES” posted December 5, 2011 regarding how great a challenge that will be for science.
The Kitzmiller court recognized that this would be contradictory with what children were being taught at home. “Second, [the prohibited reference to a Creator that was the focus of Kitzmiller] by directing students to their families to learn about the ‘Origins of Life,’ the [prohibited] paragraph performs the exact same function as did the Freiler disclaimer: It ‘reminds school children that they can rightly maintain beliefs taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life . . . .” In a mandatorily atheistic school system we certainly would not want students to be turning to their families to learn about a Creator or to maintain beliefs taught by their parents, now would we?
The First Amendment’s concise statement that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” was intended as a shield to protect religion from government. That shield has now, thanks to court decisions like Kitzmiller and the Supreme Court precedents on which it was based, become a sword to attack religion in any facet of public life touched by the government—which now includes almost everything, including public schools. The result is that the almost ninety percent of students who attend public schools are forced into a rigorously atheistic environment. Their parent’s school taxes are exacted to uphold an atheistic religion.
Thomas Jefferson directed that only three accomplishments be listed in his epitaph: “Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, Father of the University of Virginia.”[ii] Being president of the United States was not that important to him. We are all quite familiar with the Declaration of Independence and the University of Virginia. But why was the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom so significant? That Statute is a clear, profound, condemnation of government enforced religion.[iii] One of the primary targets of condemnation was “That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”
To force taxpayers to support public schools where, by court order, only atheism is taught is precisely the evil that was so strongly condemned in this statute. One could argue that compulsory support for atheism is unconstitutional because it uses the powers of government to support anti-religion which, certainly for both constitutional and practical purposes, should be treated as a religion. See truthtofreedom.com blog “PROHIBITING FREE EXERCISE” posted December 19, 2011. School vouchers avoid this constitutional pitfall because they permit families to opt out of compulsorily atheistic public schools. They provide for individuals the same freedom regarding what their children are taught in school that the Virginia Statute and the First Amendment sought to protect in what they are taught in church. Except that school attendance is mandatory, church attendance is not—therefore compulsory atheism in school is more overreaching and intrusive than it can be in voluntary church attendance. Protecting religious freedom through school vouchers fulfills the core goals of the First Amendment in keeping government approved religion, or in this case anti-religion, from being forced upon us and our families. It is a goal worth fighting for.