Saturday, June 29, 2002
The Consequences of "Under God"

Christian fundamentalist types frequently express their concerns about "this country going to hell", etc. Just recall the Falwell-Robinson statements after we were attacked last fall. We've all heard the line that it's been nothing but downhill ever since the Supreme Court ruled that institutionally-organized prayer in public school was not permissable under the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights.

Well, that ruling is, in many senses, cotemporaneous with the statutory changes in The Pledge, The Motto, etc. If everything has gone downhill -- not that I believe that for one minute -- maybe the causal behavior was in trying to make the country more religious by statute, not by protecting individuals' rights not to have religion shoved down their throats.

Actually, one of the things the religionists claim has gone downhill is order and discipline in public schools. And that may be the case, but it's not because of a lack of institutionally-mandated prayer: it's because attitudes of parents that "my child would never do that" have effectively tied the hands of teachers to engage in appropriate disciplinary action on misbehaving children. Those same parents likely blame school administrators and teachers for the lack of discipline. There's some degree of correctness in the aspects of the discipline problem having to do with the attitudes of educational professionals, but let's get real here people. If kids are given appropriate and reasonable discipline at home, teachers and administrators don't have as much disciplining to do.

But don't blame lack of discipline in school on The Supremes.