Can Religious Liberty Ever Go Too Far?

Satanic coloring books have allegedly been distributed at Orange County, Florida public schools

"I am quite certain that all of the children in these Florida schools are already aware of the Christian religion and it’s Bible, and this might be the first exposure these children have to the actual practice of Satanism. We think many students will be very curious to see what we offer."

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TylerR's picture

Editor

In 1612, amidst persecution of Baptists in England, Thomas Helwys wrote something that many of might have heard before:

“And we bow ourselves to the earth . . . beseeching the King to judge righteous judgment herein, whether there be so unjust a thing, and of so great cruel tyranny, under the sun, as to force men’s consciences in their religion to God, seeing that if they err, they must pay the price of their transgression with the loss of their souls. Oh, let the King judge, is it not most equal that men should chose their religion themselves, seeing they must only stand themselves before the judgment seat of God to answer for themselves, when it shall be no cause for them to say, ‘we were commanded or compelled to be of this religion’ by the King, or by them that had authority from him . . .” 

“For men’s religion to God, is between God and themselves; the King shall not answer for it, neither may the King be judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever; it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure," (Thomas Helwys, “The Mistery of Iniquity,” from H. Leon McBeth, Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage [Nashville, TN: B&H, 1990], 72. I modernized the spelling myself).

Is there a time when religious liberty can go too far? Is the distribution of Satanic coloring books one of those times? 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

James K's picture

Reason number 13,467 why homeschooling is infinitely better than either public or private schools.

I used to live in that county until I moved to the neighboring county a few years ago.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

ChrisC's picture

staying all white & clean in the shaker is not the point of being salt

if you can't discuss with your kids how people believe all kinds of different things in this world or that some unbelievers are pretty good people, maybe seclusion really is best.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

ChrisC wrote:

staying all white & clean in the shaker is not the point of being salt

if you can't discuss with your kids how people believe all kinds of different things in this world or that some unbelievers are pretty good people, maybe seclusion really is best.

Chris, this statement is sooooo bad on so many levels. Actually, it's half the point. Staying in the shaker - no. Staying all white and clean - yes (if the salt has lost it's savor, it is good for nothing). Discussing with your kids is a far cry from sending them to school where someone else teaches them all beliefs are equal and they are their own God (i.e. make their own decisions about life). Discussing with your kids how some people look pretty good in some ways even thought they are rebelling against God and living wrong lives is far different from seclusion also. Furthermore, scripture must always be balanced with scripture. Teaching your kids how to be salt (and light) as part of their upbringing is far different from just throwing them in the water to sink or swim. Guess your understanding of Matthew 5 overshadows all of the parenting principles in scripture.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

John E.'s picture

that the coloring book appears to exhibit zero ethnic diversity. I, for one, will be contacting the ACLU.

Sean Fericks's picture

Neither Christianity nor satanism should be promoted within the public school system.  Of course, I would advocate for no state-run schools.  But that will never happen.

TylerR's picture

Editor

You raise a very good point to consider. Christians are often quick to cry "persecution" whenever something in a school, for example, is "de-Christianized." Is this a double-standard? If we wanted to be fair, shouldn't we:

  • Allow Satanists to distribute literature?
  • Shouldn't we let Muslims distribute Korans to little schoolchildren (like the Gideons)? 
  • Shouldn't we allow equal access for all faith groups?

I don't know what the answer is - because there isn't a good answer. I sometimes think that what some folks decry as "persecution" is rather overblown. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Ron Bean's picture

Prior to the court ruling in the 1960's the only religion in government schools was a generic form of Christianity. The result of the ruling was that the practice of any religion was prohibited in those schools. "They've taken God, prayer, and the Bible" out of schools!" became a rallying cry. (BTW, contrary to popular belief an individual student can pray and read their Bible in school and God didn't move.) Many conservative government schools have pushed back at the ruling over the years with the result that some school systems decided that they would allow religion to re-enter their schools; probably figuring that Christianity would be the only thing that showed up. Guess they were wrong.

Our founding fathers were rather broad-minded when it came to religious tolerance, striking references to Christianity from early drafts of documents in favor of generic language.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

GregH's picture

Of all the illogical ideas of the religious right (and they have a lot of illogical ideas), their stand on religion in schools has got to be towards the top of the list. Why should Christianity be the only religion in Christian schools? What is the basis for that in the Constitution?

Clearly, with our current form of government that does not sanction a religion, It is all or nothing when it comes to religion in schools and I personally would lean toward nothing. That is far safer.

James K's picture

GregH wrote:

Of all the illogical ideas of the religious right (and they have a lot of illogical ideas), their stand on religion in schools has got to be towards the top of the list. Why should Christianity be the only religion in Christian schools? What is the basis for that in the Constitution?

Clearly, with our current form of government that does not sanction a religion, It is all or nothing when it comes to religion in schools and I personally would lean toward nothing. That is far safer.

Agreed.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

The problem isn't religion in schools, but government in schools. Shut down the department of education and return control of the educational process to the parents.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?