1) To use the phrase “take God out of school” suggests that any one of us or group of us is powerful enough to remove God from wherever He chooses to be. Is your God so small that a government or school board or teacher can kick him out of a place? What people actually mean when they say God has been taken out of our schools is that religious instruction has been taken out of our schools.
2) This presupposes there was a time when religious instruction was “in” the schools. There’s this fantasy history that once upon a time, all schools had teacher led prayer in the classroom and taught the Ten Commandments as part of the curriculum. My parents, however, who are septuagenarians, have no memory of praying or Bible reading in school, and they grew up in the ‘50s, that supposed Golden Age of wholesomeness, a decade before the Supreme Court ruling against government instituted prayer in schools in 1962. There were places where teachers led a prayer, but it wasn’t universal.
3) It wouldn’t be right to have teacher led prayer (or Bible study) in school, because we have separation of church and state. I’m going to throw what some of you might consider a curveball here. This is where I, as a Christian, point out that the original purpose of separation of church and state is to protect the church. As a Christian, I would not want my child’s teacher to lead them in prayer or do any other sort of religious instruction, because that teacher isn’t qualified. I don’t know what kind of theology that teacher has. Religious instruction is up to me as the parent and up to the church. Which brings me to my next point.
4) Usually when people talk about “God not being allowed in school anymore” it’s a reaction to a perceived moral decline in our society. The problem with this is twofold. One, I don’t think our society is any worse morally than it always has been, but that’s an argument for another day. Two, it’s not the school’s job to teach religious morality.
4a) It is the Church’s job. To blame a moral decline on schools is to deny our responsibility as the Church. Jesus instructs his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” not to pawn that responsibility off on some secular institution.
4b) Even if one still believed that having Christian instruction in a public school was a good idea, exactly which brand of Christianity would be taught? Should children be taught the rosary? What about TULIP? Exactly which beliefs about salvation, hell, etc. would be taught? Again, as a Christian with strong beliefs on some specific issues, and serious problems with certain denominations’ teachings, I would be very leery of religious instruction in a public school setting. Sure, if my kids were getting solid Church of God, Anderson instruction, great, but I know some of my Calvinist, Catholic, or Southern Baptist friends would have problems with that.
5) Talking about “them” taking “God out of our schools” also creates a false “us vs. them” dichotomy which portrays public schools as godless, modern day equivalents of the Greek agora or Sodom and Gomorrah. It gives the impression that public schools are anti-God, anti-church, and anti-Christ. It ignores the fact that there are myriad teachers, administrators, and other school workers who are, indeed, people of faith. It ignores the fact that while these people may not proselytize openly in the classroom, they do demonstrate Christ’s love to students. They do pray for their students. They do serve as sponsors so that students can have after school Bible studies or participate in clubs like Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
5a) Most importantly, it ignores the fact that there are plenty of Christian students who are living out their faith on a daily basis in public schools. Students, more than anyone else, can have a positive influence on their peers. When we say “they” took “God out of our schools,” it ignores and insults the hundreds of thousands of teenagers in this country who quietly, but steadfastly, live lives of faith by: praying over their school lunches, standing up for kids who are bullied, refusing to cheat on assignments, interacting with their teachers respectfully, and inviting their friends to church, et.al.
6) This “us vs. them” dichotomy is not winning anyone for Christ. When you post something like this
As a public school teacher, I can tell you that God is not banned from school. He’s there as much as He is anywhere else. I have prayed for my students. I have Christian colleagues who probably do as well. I hear students talk about God. One of my students brought her Bible when I assigned show-and-tell. So please don’t say that God isn’t in our schools. It’s insulting to Him, it’s insulting to the Christians who work at and go to our schools, and it’s a lie.