Well, I’ve heard it two times on television from pastors preaching on the creation of the world, and it has me thinking.  They said, “Remember folks, ‘separation of church and state’ is not mentioned in the Constitution.”  Thus, they claim, schools are justified in teaching creationist principles.

What does the Constitution say regarding this issue?  It says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”  What this means is a matter of interpretation.  Taken at face value it prohibits the establishment of a state-sponsored religion.  But does it mean more than that?  Does it mean that we should separate religious and government-sponsored institutions?  If the answer is yes, then the pastors are wrong to claim that we can teach religious principles in schools.

Now I am no constitutional expert so I cannot appeal to constitutional law to answer the above question.  But I think I have found the answer elsewhere.  The answer to whether we should separate religious and government-sponsored institutions is found in D&C 134:9, and the good thing is you don’t have to be a constitutional expert to figure out what this verse is telling us.

We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.”

The problem with teaching religious doctrines in schools is that is creates an uneven playing field whereby one religious society is lifted up to the detriment of others that believe differently.  This notion is wholly consistent with the Constitution which prohibits the establishment of one religion above all others.  So to answer the pastors who claim that it is okay to teach religious doctrines in school because the Constitution does not say “separation of church and state,” they’re wrong, and I am glad. 

Think about it.  Do you want your children learning about the creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall of Adam in school?  Not me.  I don’t want my children being taught that Eve messed up, that Adam gave in, and that we would all be in the Garden of Eden right now if they had their heads on straight (this is what many other Christian denominations believe).  And I know that some LDS folks don’t want their children being taught that the earth was created in six 24 hour days, while for other Latter-day Saints this is okay. 

The point is, there is so much diversity of belief within the Christian community that we would end up trampling on the religious liberties of one or more groups if we allowed such things to be taught in schools.  Religious instruction belongs in Sunday schools, not secular schools.  Let the secular schools teach their secular doctrines, devoid of religious influence.

Yet I am afraid that some people have gone too far in their efforts to keep religion out of schools, to the point of discouraging belief in God.  A belief in God, in and of itself, is not a religion.  Belief in God is a necessary, not a sufficient condition for religion.  Also, belief in God is not a source of division among different religions.  One thing that people from different religious sects can agree upon is that there is a God (even devil worshippers are on board with this one).  And so, acknowledging a belief in God in government institutions and educational settings does not limit the religious freedoms of any particular religious group. 

President Benson wrote:
I support the doctrine of separation of church and state as traditionally interpreted to prohibit the establishment of an official national religion. But I am opposed to the doctrine of separation of church and state as currently interpreted to divorce government from any formal recognition of God.”

My sentiments exactly.

Pastors pushing a mixture of creationism and science in schools are just as “out-to-lunch” as atheists who push God out of schools.  Beware of both.  They are sowing the seeds of strife and tyranny.

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