Religious Liberty In School

free-to-speakAs our students are heading back to their schools, it is a great time to be reminded of the religious liberties they have while in school. With all of the talk of so-called “separation of church and state,” I think many parents and students are reluctant to say anything that sounds remotely Christian, for fear of getting in trouble with the powers-that-be.

But we don’t have to tread so carefully!

Gateways To Better Education has some great resources. I ordered a couple hundred of their “Free To Speak” pamphlets. I gave them to our school superintendent, and as many parents as as I could. This short pamphlet summarizes the US Department of Education’s guidelines on what is allowed in school. In short, the Seven Freedoms are:

  1. Students can pray, read their Bibles or other religious material, and talk about their faith at school.
  2. Students can organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and announce their meetings like any other club.
  3. Students can express their faith in their class work and homework.
  4. Teachers can organize prayer groups with other teachers.
  5. Students may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.
  6. Students can express their faith at a school event.
  7. Students can express their faith at a graduation ceremony.

Don’t be intimidated. Don’t be uninformed. Know your rights as a US citizen.

The Beauty Of Intolerance (book review)

Beauty Of IntoleranceOur current culture sets tolerance as a high virtue, so those who exhibit the greatest levels of tolerance are upheld as the model for everyone else. On the other hand, intolerance is an ugly label for anyone to have. So what do you think when you hear that Josh and Sean McDowell have teamed-up to write a book called The Beauty Of Intolerance?

Many times there is a generational clash of worldviews: today’s grandparents and parents tend to hold to viewpoints which many of today’s youth find intolerant, mean, or even bigoted. Does that mean that the older generations are unenlightened, and the younger generations have seen the light? Or does it mean that the younger generations are rebelling, while the older generations are holding the line? Josh and Sean have become the “translators” between these two starkly-different worldviews.

It starts, the McDowells say, with an understanding of the word “tolerance.” It turns out that the this word has taken on a new meaning with younger generations, but that doesn’t mean that the younger generations don’t value what the older generations do. For example, consider a t-shirt that Josh McDowell designed. The front of the shirt says, “Intolerance is a beautiful idea.” But the back of the shirt clarifies this statement by reminding us:

  • Mother Teresa was intolerant of poverty.
  • Bono was intolerant of AIDS.
    Nelson Mandela was intolerant of apartheid.
  • Martin Luther King was intolerant of racism.
  • Jesus was intolerant of bigotry.

It turns out it’s not just the word “tolerance” that needs a tune-up, but also words like “respect,” “dignity,” “acceptance,” “morality” and “truth.” Fortunately for us, The Beauty Of Intolerance leads us through a modern-day understanding of all these terms.

Using true-to-life dialogue between parents and children, Josh and Sean help both generations see how intolerance really is a beautiful thing. The McDowells guide us through conversations we might encounter at home, in school, in the government, at church, and in day-to-day living. They give us the tools necessary to help everyone see that intolerance can be a beautiful thing!

For anyone who wants to speak the truth lovingly and convincingly across generational lines, The Beauty Of Intolerance is a must-read book.

I am a Shiloh Run Press book reviewer.

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