Church and State

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: This Christmas, Pete du pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis has a few thoughts on the place of religion in public life, especially in public education.

There was once a time when American educators would have thought themselves remiss if religion and ethics weren't part of the curriculum. The nation's founding and the shaping of its character owes just as much to religious impulses as to those of the enlightenment.

But today, too many educators view religion with unease. Cowed by the threat of lawsuits, consumed with the desire to be politically correct, and either ignorantly or willfully misreading court decisions which clearly allow religion in the classroom, they have made religion the unwanted stepchild of public education.

Yet how can anyone teach English, American history, or even science without examining its religious component. Religion, and specifically Christianity, has had a crucial role to play in the development of our laws, government, art and literature. To fail to acknowledge this by silence or censorship isn't a neutral position, it's a stridently anti-religious one.

In a sense, the debate over school prayer is an unfortunate one, because it detracts attention from the real issue of religion in schools: what's crucial isn't what students do for 60 seconds in the morning. It's what teachers do for the rest of the day.

Those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: Time magazine's about to announce its Man of the Year. Tomorrow, Pete du Pont has his nominee.