Your Opinion: Sacred songs and First Amendment

Dear Editor:

Jessica Lako’s letter of complaint regarding the teaching and singing of religious songs in Jefferson City Public Schools is a wonderful example of the failure of our American educational system. She asks, “Whatever happened to separation of church and state?”

The question that needs to be answered is, “Where did the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ come from?” It is not in the First Amendment! That reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment was written to prevent the creation of a national religion as existed in England (Church of England) and some of the other European nations (often Catholicism). In addition, it distinctly prohibits any governmental effort to keep citizens from the free exercise of their chosen religion.

On Jan. 1, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson responded to a letter from the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Conn. The Danbury Baptists had written the president with the concern of a rumor that the Congregationalist denomination was to be named the national religion. Jefferson’s response assured them that “the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state.” This, again, was stated in the terms of the amendment prohibits a national religion, but does not prohibit religious activities.

Christianity is a significant, and relevant, part of the creation, development and continuity of the United States of America. To suggest prohibiting the teaching and performance of certain music because of its religious or political content is the height of intolerance. It also reduces the depth of instruction available to our teachers.

Secularization of all education results in less educated citizens. I, personally, thank God that the Jefferson City School District has the professionalism to not bow to the book-burners in our society.

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