Irony is at the root of the some of the best humor, which would explain why I laughed while reading Group: Bible clubs back in Seattle schools yesterday in the Herald.
The Good News Clubs are the product of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) who describe “these clubs provide opportunity for children in the public schools to hear the Gospel and learn truth from God’s Word.” Incidentally, the CEF and their Good News Club is very active here in Whatcom County and run by an awesome woman, mom and Christian.
And the ironic humor is multi-level to boot. First, it’s ironic because the argument is about the bible being “back” in a strictly voluntary afterschool program when the bible was originally often part of public school curriculum
“I have always said, and will always say, that studious perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens.” Thomas Jefferson
While President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was elected the first president of the Washington, D.C. public school board, which used the Bible as a reading text in the classroom.
and secondly it’s ironic because Bible use in public schools would be common knowledge if the religious part of our history were actually taught in our public schools.
But before we go deeper on the ironic humor, I did read some of the comments and found them per somewhat humorous but mostly per usual, a Christian bash fest which blames many historical ills on Christianity while ignoring that faith’s positive influences in our nation and world.
There is also a smattering of secular humanist thought
I lead a moral, honorable life and it was all done without the teachings of your fairy tale hero, Jesus
and an oddly wonderful indictment of Christianity
But those of you that walk your talk are few and far between; hope, mercy, grace, forgiveness and peace are merely talking points for most of you, not an actual belief system.
which I think that all Christians should read and spend a little personal reflection time with because the author made a point, albeit probably not the one he was thinking. We Christians must speak and act out hope, mercy, grace, and peace or they are just talking points.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:22-25 NIV
Then their are the comments from wannabe history scholars that include outright wrong interpretations
Because freedom OF religion also includes freedom FROM religion.
as well out of context quotes cherry picked to downplay Christianity’s role in the forming of our nation.
“The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian Religion.” 1797 the treaty of Tripoli, signed by President Washington, and approved by the Senate of the United States.
The intention of our nascent federal government was only that they not dictate a national religion and it was never their intention to protect their citizens from all forms of religious trappings. And upon reading the next line of President Washingtion’s quote
as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen;
we see that by personifying the US, he was very diplomatically saying that our nation was not a legal Christian theocracy while not making any comment on the role that Christianity played in the formation and continuance of our nation.
And now back to the subject of ironic humor and the final irony of this situation which comes via this line in the article:
the newspaper reports that a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that religious organizations can be allowed on public school grounds.
The irony being, and again probably not taught in public schools, that religion in the public schools was originally preferred.
In fact it was part a litmus test applied to territories who desired statehood and served as a common template for our growing nation of independent states. This fact is found in a document known as the Northwest Ordinance which, with the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence are considered the top 3 documents drafted by our nation’s founders.
Sect. 14, Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
So in our modern language that translates as the drafters of our nation intending that schools and other means of education should forever encourage the teaching of religion, morality and knowledge because they felt it necessary for good government and our happiness. I grew up in the generation that saw the bible, prayer, and religion leave our schools and I sit here today thinking that we could and have done a lot worse than to have the Bible as a text in every classroom as was the intention for our nation.
God + school = good
And when you go quoting this fact to others, don’t let them try and play this down as some obscure quote from a minor document.
Even though the Northwest Ordinance has not been ivory towered the way the other 2 documents have been, it is known as the precursor to the Bill of Rights and is the first place that many hallmarks of our nations are addressed.
Sect. 14, Art. 6. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory
Sure it took another 80 years for this idea to come to full fruition during the Civil War, but the intent was there from the beginning and it inclusion speaks to the profound nature of this document.
Now that you know the truth, have yourself a good laugh next time someone tells you that the Bible doesn’t have a place in public schools.