Fathers of nation valued religious freedom


Last month, the Texas State Board of Education began discussing a new curriculum that would teach students that the United States is a Christian nation.

Members of the board, as do many others, argue that the Founding Fathers were Christians and founded the country on the ideals of Christianity. Because of this, they think the United States is a Christian nation and not just a country with a predominant Christian population.

There is nothing new about trying to introduce religion into schools. As someone who grew up in Kansas, I have firsthand knowledge of this, but the push to officially make this country a Christian nation has gained momentum in the last few years.

To do this would be a huge mistake.

While it is true that the Founding Fathers were Christians, they were against the idea of a national religion. Not only did they ensure religious freedom in the First Amendment, they also created a separation of church and state.

The Founding Fathers knew that such a separation of power was necessary in regards to religion as well as government. The point has always been to keep one entity from gaining complete power.

Naming one national religion would be just as, if not more, destructive as naming one person to run the country. It would be impossible to achieve or maintain true religious freedom if one religion was singled out above all others.

One area I do agree with the school board on, although for different reasons, is the need to teach religion in the context of history.

Religion, especially Christianity, has played a huge role in the history of not only this country, but the entire world. It is important for students to learn the effects people’s beliefs have had on the course of human history.

This will only work if we teach all religions and we teach them without bias or motive. Few people in this country have any knowledge of the teachings and practices of religions other than their own. Those who do have learned them through the biased eyes of their own belief system.

It is often argued that the laws of this country were set up to reflect the teachings of Christianity. If people had true knowledge of other religions, they would realize that the basic fundamentals of love and doing what is right are all the same.

If people in this world had a better understanding of all religions, we wouldn’t have half the problems we currently face. It is not enough to be just tolerant of other people; you must learn why they do what they do. Only through understanding can we figure out a way to stop killing each other.

While we don’t need to choose a national religion, it is important that we make sure our children gain the knowledge they need to make up for our mistakes. We must teach them rather than just preach to them.

– Joseth Sommers is a senior in print journalism. Send comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.