The question being repeatedly raised in America is "just what did the First Amendment say about the 'separation of church and state'?" To begin with, it says nothing about the separation of church and state. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment says church and state must be separated.
There's another factor that I find intriguing, namely, that on Sept. 15, 1789, the day they passed the First Amendment, the Congress also passed the Northwest Ordinance, which established the government for the future states north and west of the Ohio River. Article III stated, "Knowledge, morality and religion, being essential for the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education, are to be forever encouraged."
It's ludicrous, according to author Peter Marshall, that on the same day the Founding Fathers passed the First Amendment, they passed the Northwest Ordinance, which completely contradicts any interpretation that would lead someone to believe that the First Amendment was meant to keep prayer and Bible-reading out of public schools. In addition, President John Adams revealed his understanding of the Constitution as a "Biblically-based document," and he even stated, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."
Since the Supreme Court ruled that prayer and Bible-reading in public schools were to be outlawed, increased crime and violence, a decline in academic achievement and other negative consequences have resulted.
In an article in the Washington Watch, Marshall quotes Ben Franklin: "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. Unfortunately, virtue is not inherited. It must be taught." That's what makes education effective. Let's return to those roots, and all of us will have something to smile about!
To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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