Christians and the Grant County School

There is an old arrangement in philosophical arguments, where an “In Principle” argument is followed by an “In Fact” argument. Recently, I discussed the principles of religious freedom in public schools, but now I want to address some points raised making accusations of about alleged attempts to favor one religion in the Grant county school system. I cannot argue what has really happened in these schools, I don’t work for the district, and my son is too little to attend school yet, but I can demonstrate that the accusations, at least in the form we have them today lack substance, and therefore unless facts can be marshaled, the complaint lacks merit.

Let’s start by clearly stating it is not the job of a Christian or an apologist to justify the practices of any public school; since this is a complaint it is the responsibility of the northern Kentucky freethinkers to demonstrate where specifically there is a meaningful violation of the law, or of constitutional principles. Thus, merely referencing a religious text because it is “religious” (such as a complaint about students reading a passage from Genesis relating to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah), is meaningless without more information than presented in the complaint. Is this merely one viewpoint on an issue presented in contrast with several others,[1] is it some presentation of an alleged development within human thought,[2] is it a literary question comparing the text to the style presented in some other text,[3] or is it included in a discussion of the archeology of the region?[4] Without more specific information, the charge must be dismissed as lacking sufficient evidence to even be considered. Similarly, a passing reference is made to an incident at some prior point in time, a book on evolution was said to be inappropriate by school authorities, the reason why the book is inappropriate is not stated, we are left to assume it was the subject matter (biological evolution), but such an assumption is not necessarily correct. Some books on “evolution” are actually books pushing religious naturalism,[5] such as Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker, older works are explicitly racist (including Darwin’s The Descent of Man), and some contain elements of a eugenicist agenda, which might very well be offensive to students who have relatives with disabilities, or are themselves disabled. Nor do we know why the student allegedly brought the book to school, which is a rather interesting question to ignore.


Additionally, the complaint focuses greatly on a youth pastor who also works in the school system as a physical education teacher, and presents the claims of the Church as proof that this man should not work at the school as a teacher. And yet, it is not uncommon for pastors, youth pastors, or others to have outside jobs (such personnel in Christian circles are commonly referred to as “tent-workers,” or “bi-vocational ministers.”) The question of whether this teacher is also a minister is irrelevant, (in fact, we could ask for the clarification of whether the freethinkers are suggesting that Christians in general should be discriminated against during the hiring practices, or just those involved in bi-vocational ministry). Unless, they can demonstrate that the teacher does not understand the distinctions between instructional periods and non-instructional periods, they do not have a case. They have not intimated that he is leading the students in prayer nor that he is preaching during class period. Similarly, they have complained that this same man and his wife are involved in the Association of Christian Athletes in the High School. And yet, it needs to be remembered, most organizations on high school campuses are required in many districts to have a faculty advisor of some sort.[6] They have presented no indications that he has broken any rules of decorum or any laws simply by serving in such a capacity.


Additionally there were complaints about advertisements and newsletters. The latter provide no context to be useful at all. In one case, it was a picture of students praying at the flagpole. There has been no evidence presented that the school’s administration or faculty initiated this prayer session; otherwise a newsletter covering the event in a newsletter is simply an example of journalism showing interest in the student’s activities. Similarly complaints were leveled that a student was allowed to make a statement in the newsletter of that student’s own faith, but we don’t have any evidence of why this particular student was chosen. Was he elected by his peers? Was it because he had organized the campaign against heroin at the school, and chose to speak about his motivations? Was it drawn by name? Unless it is demonstrated that the school’s administration chose this student in order to present a pro-Christian message then the newsletter’s reference does not make a case for the freethinkers.


A display of Bible’s involving the heroin epidemic was also a part of the complaint, but again, we are left without sufficient context (the display of Bibles actually appears from the photographs to be more accurately Bible’s displayed along side other materials).[7] We are not told who organized the display (students of faculty) what the other materials presented are, what the display of the Bible’s is intended to mean, etc. Without this context the complaint is meaningless.


Finally, two advertisements and a display of Bibles are noted, one is a basketball tournament at the Dry Ridge Baptist Church, and the second is a tutoring service by a Methodist church being advertised. Unless things have changed from my own high school days, it is not uncommon for schools to advertise community events, particularly those aimed at youth. Someone may have a case to argue this is unreasonable for the school to advertise the Baptist church’s basketball tournament if, and only if, it can be demonstrated that other groups were turned down under similar conditions, yet no one has suggested that a local mosque or synagogue has requested to advertise a sporting event and had their request denied. In fact, to advertise events at secular venues, but to deny advertisement at similar community events held at Churches would be explicit discrimination. The other point, was a Methodist church that offered a tutoring service to the students. Yet, the advertisement explicitly states that the school was not endorsing the church, and again, no evidence of discrimination against other tutoring services has been offered.


The case, as it has been presented on the Freethinkers own website is not a case at all. Without more evidence, facts, or additional information, Christians should watch this matter very closely, and consider whether the schools response should merit a lawsuit of discrimination on the grounds that said response would constitute discrimination against religious students.

            [1]To be clear, it is equally wrong under the constitution for the schools to take an antireligious stance as it is a proreligious stance, but describing the stances taken by various worldviews, including theistic ones, is not actually a violation of any principle. In fact, if only nontheistic worldviews are presented, then the school is advocating a position that God does not exist.

[2]If this is the case, I strongly object to the presentation myself. Students should not be taught the chronological snobbery nor the myth of progress popular among many progressives and atheists; such constitutes a clear violation of the establishment clause. Nor should appeals to the methods of the religionsgeschichte schule, or its modern counterpart, mythicist interpretations on the Bible be presented in public schools, on the dual grounds that it would be teaching a specific approach to religion and it would be based in bad scholarship.

[3]If this be the case, I would again object, since this may employ an approach to religious literature that does not maintain the required neutrality of a public school system. See the above note on mythacist interpretations of the Bible.

[4]Again, based on the way the presentation is made, in this case it is the Christian and not the atheist that has the greater grounds for objection.

[5]To be clear, I am not against such books being allowed on campus. My opinion is that they should be handled on the same grounds as Christian examples on the same topic; The Blind Watchmaker should be treated in the same manner as Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ.

            [6]My own experience in High School included a Christian Youth Club in my sophomore year, though I was a little conservative at the time for the group, and did not involve myself later in the group, to my own regret. The faculty advisor was also my algebra teacher, and I never would have known he were a Christian if he had not been involved with the club. He generally sat in the background, provided advise as needed or when asked, and let us do as we thought best.

            [7]This and the student picture and interview are both discussed in the complaint as related to discussions related to Northern Kentucky’s Heroin epidemic.

Christian rights on school grounds

There is currently an article on the WCPO news website complaining about Christian activity in public schools. Though I am a Baptist, I’m against religion being taught in public schools.   My grounds are that I do not trust the government to accurately present Christian thought, especially when taught by a non-Christian teacher.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe students have the right to organize and express their faith. Yes, on school grounds, which belong to the taxpayers. There are several important principles in play when it comes to Christian young people being allowed to pray around a flag-pole, organize a Bible club, or vocally express their faith on school grounds.

The immutability of rights

First, it must be acknowledged that the rights of American citizenship are present in the public as well as in the private sphere of life.   A student does not give up his first amendment rights when he walks onto public property; though, of course, he must obey the rules of decorum and good manners so as not to infringe on the rights of other students.

To argue that Christians must not honor the name of Jesus Christ or live as if Jesus and God are not the center of their existence is to maintain that the government has the authority to require Christians to commit hypocrisy. To use the language of our founders, it argues that government has the right to prohibit the free exercise of religion. Freedom of religion does not mean we have to limit religious thought or sentiment to Sunday services only, or to specific ritual duties; it also means we are free to live a righteous life.[1]


Secondarily, it is often argued that this is somehow “discriminatory” to non-Christian students. This is nonsense, as can be seen by a chess club. No one would argue that the existence of a chess club in an elementary school discriminates against children who do not play chess, nor is it somehow discriminatory if some children choose to play chess during their lunch period. Certainly, there is no reason for non-chess-playing students to feel “threatened” or “fearful.”   No one is harmed by Christians forming a Bible club, provided that non-Christian groups are given the same right to organize.

But, some will say, it is discriminatory that club officers must be Christians; again, this is analogous to other clubs. Spanish clubs do not discriminate against anyone when they require the president (or members) to be able to speak or read Spanish, nor is it discriminatory when the Chess club requires officers to be able to actually play chess. Such rules do not infringe on the rights of other students. In fact, in a sense, not allowing such basic rules can lead to true infringements or negations of rights. Suppose a group of students who prefer checkers infiltrates a chess club, elects one of their own as a president, and promptly rules that all meetings will henceforth play checkers instead of chess. This would not enhance the checkers players rights; they already had every right to form their own club and enjoy the same rights as the chess players, to play their preferred game during non-instructional periods. The only persons who would be affected are the chess players, who find that their own ability to enjoy their preferred game on campus has been diminished.

Similarly, Christian clubs who require officers to uphold some form of the Christian faith are not discriminating against anyone else, since Muslims, Hindus and atheists have the same rights to organize clubs based on their beliefs. Alterations to these principles would merely diminish the rights of each to espouse his beliefs on campus.

Separation of Church and State

Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, the argument most often raised ultimately should be understood to backfire against the opponents of Bible clubs. There is a long standing debate on the first amendment and the separation of church and State, but rather than going into the history of the first amendment, we need to note if there is a separation of Church and State, that is no reason to forbid Bible clubs.

Schools are already necessarily engaged peripherally in religion, and therefore it is the State, not the Church, that should be removed from campus if we hold to a hardened, immutable separation. It is impossible for a school — public or private — to form any curriculum without being affected, intentionally or unintentionally, by religious beliefs.[2] As various scholars of worldview now admit, our view of the world influences not only our understanding of what is true, but also our rules and our means of judging how we know something to be true.

Therefore, if we Americans are to take the first amendment as an absolute separation of Church and state, then I would argue that it is the state, and not the church, that has no proper role in the education of children; and it is the atheist, and not the Christian who is ultimately violating the principle. Atheists have long sought to use the public schools as a point to indoctrinate others into their worldview, as is explicitly admitted in the original humanist manifesto, authored by Thomas Dewey (a major influence on the modern educational establishment).

This should be understood as explicit religious indoctrination done at state expense; it has been done by using of modern myths, such as the false belief that medieval Christians believed the Earth was flat. The atheists are effectively creating a state secularist religion, something that is itself a violation of the separation principle.

This being the case, there are no principled grounds for expelling Christian demonstrations in the public square.




            [1] It could be objected that children, as minors, do not have the full development of their rights, and this is true as far as it goes. (After all, we don’t allow elementary aged children to apply for concealed carry permits.) But that argument doesn’t show any reason to forbid Christians from organizing a Bible club on school grounds if it’s outside of classroom hours. It is the parents, not the government, who are the proper guardians of a child’s rights. Thus, such an argument is functionally limited to suggesting children should have parents sign a permission slip to join a Bible club, not to argue children cannot have one.

[2]Examples include:

  • Any discussion of the history of the United States or Europe must of course address Christianity, and however these questions are to be answered, the teachers, textbook writers, and planners of curriculum presentation of western history will be influenced by whether they think Christianity is true, or false. Similarly, the study of the history of the Middle East will be conditioned on one’s understanding of Islam.
  • The choice of, and commentary about, literature in English classes will similarly be explicitly affected by the teacher’s understanding of Christianity and other religions. How, for example, can Shakespeare be discussed without mentioning the English Bible, and what are we to do with Milton’s paradise lost, which openly states it is a theodicy?
  • To be learned, one must wrestle with the question of whether man is basically good (but does some evil things because of some outside element entering his life), basically evil (as Christians would assert), or some assertion that denies the viability of the distinction. The answer to this question (and many other questions of religious ethics and epistemology) has massive ramifications for conclusions involving the study of psychology, sociology, anthropology, law, ethics, etc.
  • While many focus on the question of evolution in public schools in terms of religion versus science, in many senses, both sides are appealing to religious belief (religion in an academic sense is a study of various questions, including the existence of God or gods. To argue there is no God is therefore an explicit statement of religious belief). One of the very basic distinctions between atheistic evolutionists and Christians (whether they are old earth creationists, young earth creationists or theistic evolutionists) is not about the data involved in the discussion, but about the premises their religious beliefs and the way these premises impact their interpretation of the data. There are similar issues with many other scientific studies.

Social Justice, Rape and the Inadequacy of Atheistic Naturalism

America in the aftermath of the 2016 election saw protests of the election results, including a few riots; there were also a number of apparent hoaxes, and millenials requesting counseling in their university classrooms. While riots certainly are not funny, some of the news stories about university students have driven certain conservatives and moderates to laughter.

Laughter, while understandable, is not particularly helpful. We know that many millenials who feel they are “interested in social justice” will regard the recent election as a confirmation that America is basically a racist, misogynist country (illustrating, perhaps, that confirmation bias is a knife that cuts both ways). But this is political, and the debates involved can better be viewed through the lens of a political blog. Nevertheless, the claim to be “interested in social justice” is an interesting one, though perhaps a bit arrogant. Anyone who is not a psychopath or a sociopath has an interest in social justice; this is relatively uncontroversial.

The difficulties come in how to define “social justice” (or for that matter, “justice”).   There are stark distinctions between the Egalitarianism of John Rawls and the Libertarianism of an Ayn Rand, each of whom considers the other’s position to be unjust. A Christian will be interested as well in matters of “what is deserved,”(justice is about receiving what we deserve, or the prevention of undeserved harm) a position uncommon outside of Christian thought. Yet, the thought of justice is an interesting one, because the prevalent naturalism within millennial societies and the universities shows the contradiction inherent in the modern worldview.

If man is merely an evolved ape, then appeals to justice are appeals to the illusionary. The best argument someone can raise is that justice is something society invented because it provides evolutionary advantages in some circumstances (and only in some circumstances). But no matter how deeply seated that conviction may be, if natural processes only are involved, people cannot be said to have “rights” worthy of being respected.

For example, we live in a culture that properly condemns rape, a horrid evil, so much so that many on the left seek to suspend the usual protections allotted to a man accused of such a crime. The argument is raised that we should always believe one who claims she was raped, that no woman would ever lie about such a thing; and if taken to its logical conclusion, men should be convicted or ostracized by society on the accusation alone.[1]

And yet, if we accept an atheistic model of evolution, the rapist is doing precisely what he ought to be doing: He is supposed to pass on his genes to the next generation by whatever means works; and thousands of years of military history would suggest it is, in fact, an efficient method of both procreation and maintenance of power within a society. If warriors take a number of women by force after conquering a city or village, the men gain a greater likelihood of there being conscripts for some future war.

On evolutionary grounds, those committing such crimes could aptly claim they are just “born that way.” Evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins might argue they would never try to organize a society on evolution. But when one considers that these same evolutionists offer evolutionary explanations for the development of moral codes (such as the belief that justice was created to benefit society), one must ask, on what grounds do they believe they can argue society can be organized on any grounds other than evolution? One cannot argue that societal evolution is an explanation for moral codes one minute, and argue we should avoid social Darwinism a few minutes later.

Some have argued, societies that develop theories about human rights have a stronger social fabric, which gives them a better chance to survive; but where has it been proven that this is how societies have evolved in the first place? And is it really true? A number of totalitarian societies who long ago lost their God-given respect for women have survived largely unchanged over millennia. And if this is the case, on what grounds can we consider western societies more successful than the Saudi Arabians?

Finally, a few, such as Richard Rority have noted this is just “our way of doing things.”   And yet, if it is just “our way,” on what grounds can we condemn someone else’s ways of doing things, even those within our society, as “wrong?”

In other words, any discussion of justice, social justice, equity or egalitarianism is at its root contradictory to the principles of atheistic, biological evolution. This is as true for atheists advocating libertarianism, such as Ayn Rand, with her claim that socialism is the enslavement of the most capable (which of course presumes this is somehow wrong); and it is true for socialists, who essentially argue we should maintain an equality of individuals that is at odds with evolutionary theory while insisting that evolutionary theory is true.

Of course, a third possibility is that the atheists are wrong, that man is not merely an over-evolved ape with a slightly bigger brain, a thesis that does little to explain our creativity or our ability to make ground/consequent arguments.

Perhaps instead we should consider that the reason rape is wrong is because God made human beings, and therefore women are worthy of respect. We have been given innately a conscience that both recognizes women as made in imageo dei and has not been eroded by the culture in which we live in (at least, not yet).

            [1]As the Tawana Brawley case, the Duke Rape case and the various men freed by the Innocence project, however, this approach may not be very wise.