There is perhaps no group besides American Atheists and the ACLU who consistently challenge Christian signs, symbols and Christian tradition more than the Freedom From Religion Foundation, FFRF. The group has been victorious in many lawsuits and is a thorn in the side to many Christians who find their tactics to be militant atheism, and indeed, they are right.
On March 8th, FFRF is proudly commemorating the 65-year Anniversary of the 1948 landmark Supreme Court decision in McCollum vs. Board of Education, which banned religious studies in public schools.
The case was brought by atheist Vashti McCollum whose son attended public school in the Champaign, Ill., school district. The classes were voluntary, but McCollum declared her son was ostracized for not participating. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that religious classes on school property were a violation of the separation of church and state.
Justice Hugo Black in a portion of his opinion wrote: “Here not only are the state’s tax-supported public school buildings used for the dissemination of religious doctrines. The State also affords sectarian groups an invaluable aid in that it helps to provide pupils for their religious classes through use of the state’s compulsory public school machinery. This is not separation of Church and State.”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President of FFRF posted a column commemorating the anniversary both on the groups Web site as well as their Facebook page.
Gaylor’s essay, entitled, “Give thanks to the McCollum Family,” is clearly a take on Christian’s giving thanks to God. Gaylor also notes she is en route to a celebration in Champaign to celebrate the anniversary.
“In the face of bitter defeat in two lower courts, social shunning, hate mail, reprisal against herself, her family and her children, Vashti did not give up. She was rewarded with a historic decision, 8-1, in her favor,” Gaylor writes.
“FFRF daily invokes the McCollum precedent in our legal letters of complaint over state/church violations in public schools,” notes Gaylor.
The group lists 12 ongoing lawsuits on its Web site challenging everything from a painting of Jesus in a school, to a graduation prayer, to a Catholic Shrine on a mountain. (Details of the lawsuits can be seen here: http://ffrf.org/legal/challenges/ongoing-lawsuits/
Gaylor also writes of the 65-year old ruling, “While we take a moment to savor this strong ruling, it must be noted that the Supreme Court has egregiously deviated from the principles in McCollum in its 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School District decision. What the court stopped during the school day, it now blesses as soon as the bell rings at the end of the school day.”
Clearly, the Supreme Court has been inconsistent in rulings. In addition to Gaylor’s aforementioned lawsuit, there have been divergent rulings in lawsuits that were seeking to remove 10 Commandment Displays – some have ruled the monuments can stay, while others rulings forced the removal of the monument in question.
Clearly, Gaylor and her cohorts at FFRF are very proud of this decades old victory that banned religious study in schools. Vashti McCollum and those like her that have stood against religion and won are the group’s and followers heroes.
Many Christians would argue that since these court decisions, schools have gone downhill with bullying, shootings, and many children with a general disrespect and disdain for authority.
In the 1940’s, mothers didn’t send their children to school with the thought that their child could be a victim of a mass shooting. Indeed, the thought never entered anyone’s mind. I personally know of one mother who pulled her child out of public school after the Newtown, Conn., shootings. And really, who could blame her?
What lack of religion and lack of God in schools has done is evident. We haven’t gotten better as a society, we’ve steadily gone down that slippery slippery slope of Godlessness. And that is no cause for celebration.