With the start of school this week, I am looking back on my own schooling experience, and thinking how different it is now than what it was when I attended public school in the 1970's. One of my fondest memories is when every morning, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Dillon, had us say the pledge of allegiance, and then proceeded to open the Bible that sat on her desk and we recited Psalm 100. She didn't expound on it--or talk about her religion, we just read it, and proceeded with our studies.
I enjoyed that part of my school day--it was a comforting passage, and even though I really didn't know much about the Bible, it had planted a seed in my heart that we were God's people, and the sheep of His pasture, hence, we were created by God and had a duty toward Him. It was unlike any other book. I also recall my second grade teacher, Mrs. Hawkins, reading the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. I can still remember it clearly, and to this day, Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. Our math rulers had the phrase "Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In fifth grade, the Gideon's were allowed to come into the school and give us all a pocket New Testament, which I treasured, and kept in my desk.
My parents didn't have to worry when I got on the school bus that there might be a shooting in the classroom. We were allowed to walk up to town by ourselves, and no one ever thought about child molesters or kidnappers lurking--although my mom told me to never go up to a car that pulled over and engage in conversation with a stranger--but she wasn't afraid to let us go because things like that were rare. Now a parent can't let their kids play in their own backyard without keeping a watchful eye.
To my knowledge, parents never complained about the teacher's violating their child's rights when they read the Bible, or said the pledge of allegiance, with the phrase, "One Nation Under God." It was part of our American heritage. We had Christmas parties and Thanksgiving celebrations where the pilgrims' story was taught. We also had Halloween parties (which glorifies witches and evil spirits), Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc. I am sure that somewhere down the line some one's religion was offended, but the school board didn't have to worry about being so politically correct, and making everything so generic so as to never mention God, religion, or the Bible.
It is a very different world today. Heaven forbid we teach a child about the ten commandments, but be sure to let them know about how to have safe sex and what the school's emergency plan is in case of a lock down because someone is in the school with a loaded gun.