The North Texas Daily (2024)

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The North Texas Daily
Thursday, July 1,1999
Page 2
7, " »e-= ft se-r l
Ten Commandments debate ignores religious roots
throughout the world. The separation of proclaimed.
New bill denies First Amendment rights of students
Catherine Atkinson
-Daily Reporter
Julie Freeman
-Managing Editor
pie of other faiths know that they are
not being excluded or forced to learn
Christian principles. The amendment
does not include such provisions, but it
does give schools and other State prop-
erty the right to unofficially declare
Christianity as the established religion.
The First Amendment to the
Constitution forbids the government
from doing so.
The amendment is part of the
Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1999,
which is currently on the Senate calen-
history. That's why the Pledge of
Allegiance proclaims America as "one
nation under God."
Because it’s not politically correct, we
tend to ignore our Christian roots. How
many people realize that some of our
greatest halls of higher education, such
as Princeton and Brown University,
were formed to train Christian converts
during the first Great Awakening?
For those who still say it is simply a
matter of rights, I would encourage
them to look at Thomas Jefferson's
Statute of Religious Freedom. Even
Jefferson acknowledges the Christian
God and speaks of false religions
Ironically enough, Amendment 199
of the same bill waives attorney's fees to
people who successfully sue a public
school that violates religious neutrality.
Posting the Ten Commandments in
schools, which are owned by the state, is
not a neutral religious act. The House
has made it easier for people to sue a
school and has given them a possible
The act still has to go through the
Senate, the President and the court sys-
tem. In the 1980s, the Supreme Court
said it was unconstitutional for states to
require schools to post the Ten
Commandments in schools. The House
of Representatives is wasting time with
this amendment. The amendment is a .
violation of the Constitution and it
should not be allowed to go into effect.
siveness of Christianity. It is not easy to
hear that man is innately sinful and has
no hope of reaching heaven on his own
merit.’We like to think that if we do
enough good deeds, God will call it
even. Christianity doesn't hold to that,
and realizing that forgiveness comes
through Jesus Christ alone rubs against
our pride. Call it an issue of rights if you
want, but that's the real issue.
Trying to find a scapegoat for our fear
to face the truth, we conveniently forget
dar. Most of the bill deals with improv-
ing die court's ability to prosecute juve-
nile offenders. Amendments 198
through 201, however, are religious in
nature. This is just another attempt for
law-makers to attach their own beliefs
to a bill that many people want passed.
If the purpose of the amendment is to
encourage higher moral standards
among students, then it cannot be effec-
tive. Teachers expose their students to
dozens of posters with clever slogans
that are designed to remind students of
the rules. Children are not going to
remember one more poster on the wall,
even if it has the Ten Commandments
on it. The only way they are going to
notice the sign is if teachers point it out
and require the kids to read it. Once
again, religious neutrality is violated.
A bill recently passed by the U.S.
House has once again stirred up contro-
versy over the freedom of religion.
Unlike some believe, the House did
1 ) make a unilateral decision mandat-
ing that the Ten Commandments be
h mg in every American classroom,
he bill simply recognized that the
po ver to resolve the debate rests with
the states; I agree. This doesn't mean
that automatically every state will decide
to post the commandments. It also does-
n't mean other religions are prohibited
from doing something similar.
Even so, those who wish to wring
every vestige of spirituality from public
schools have risen again to cry out for
die full separation of church and state.
The problem lies less with constitu-
tional rights than it does with the offen-
rM ■
• ..
the Christian principles and values this church and state is to ensure that
country was built on. Some people don't Americans are not denied public office
like it or agree with it, but it's a matter of for their religious beliefs or forced to
P deg ques s — 4
- . *___. ’ 6e e 1 " J l
participate in or financially support a
particular religion, as had happened in
England. Hanging the Ten Command-
ments on the wall is hardly compelling
students to worship God.
Though I differ with Jefferson on
some doctrinal issues, it is obvious that
today's interpretation of church-state
separation has strayed from its intent.
I am not opposed to hanging God's
laws on school property. If s just a
shame that if s only half the story. The
laws show us our sinfulness; we can't
possibly keep them all. The good news
is freedom and forgiveness through
Jesus Christ. Thaf s what needs to be
Editor: Torrey Bell
Advertising Manager: Ree Nichols
Managing Editor: Julie Freeman
Assistant Managing Editor: Selene Benjamin
Sports Editor: Kasey Ulrich
A&E Editor: Jacqi Serie
Photo Editor: Mike Daley
Graphics Editor: Shane Clevenger
Classifieds Manager: Angela Kirkendoll
Advertising Sales: Alyssa Taylor, Daniel Davis
Letters and columns will be edited for grammar, style,
space and libel, but a writer's meaning will not be changed.
Letters, should be submitted typed with name and phone
number. Column submissions and letters may be brought to
The Daily office, General Academic Building 117 or sent by
mail, E-mail or fax. The Daily does not guarantee publica-
tion of any submission.
The North Texas Daily is published Thursdays during the
summer sessions, except university holidays and exam peri-
Subscription rate—$20 annually or $10 per long semester
and $5 per summer session.
Editorial: (940)565-2353 Advertising: (940)565-2851
Mailing Address: NT Box 305280, Denton, TX 76203
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I like to think that I am a somewhat
religious person. I pray and I attend
church when I can. I was a member of a
Bible-study group in high school and
have attended at least two "See-You-at-
the-Pole" gatherings. But I do not think
religion needs to be in the classroom.
On June 17 the U.S. House of
Representatives passed four amend-
ments to a juvenile justice bill. One of
these amendments allows public
schools to display the Ten
Commandments. This amendment is in
violation of people's constitutional
I would not be opposed to the
amendment if it had included a provi-
sion that let schools post teachings from
all other religions, including Judaism,
Islam, Hinduism and more. Then peo-

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The North Texas Daily (Denton, Tex.), Vol. 83, No. 114, Ed. 1 Thursday, July 1, 1999,newspaper, July 1, 1999; Denton, Texas. ( April 19, 2024),University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.

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