Christian Educators Express Faith With New Boldness
A Christian education association is training Christian teachers how to live their faith and evangelize in public schools without violating the Constitution.
The Christian Educators Association International is an organization that sees the nation's public schools as "the largest single mission field in America," reports The Washington Post.
The association trains teachers how to be a light in schools without infringing on the Constitution's ban on promoting any particular religion.
"We're not talking about proselytizing. That would be illegal," Finn Laursen, the group's executive director, told The Washington Post. "But we're saying you can do a lot of things...It's a mission field that you fish in differently."
The association trains teachers to step out and share their faith boldly despite increased hostility towards teachers and faculty who profess a Christian faith.
Teachers can pray with colleagues during breaks, they can pray with a student at the student's request after work hours, and they can also hold before and after school religious clubs for students.
Educators, however, must be careful to stay within the bounds of the law and not proselytize at school.
"They appear to be encouraging teachers to cross the line," Daniel Mach, with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Post. The ACLU fought the Christian Educators Association in a 2009 court case over Florida teachers' religious expression at school.
"Decisions about the religious upbringing of children should be left in the hands of parents and families, not public school officials," he said.
Charles C. Haynes, A First Amendment expert at the Newseum Institute's Religious Freedom Center, said the association is not violating the law.
Although many people believe that public schools should be religious free-zones, that is not the case, Haynes explained.
"The First Amendment does not exclude religion from public schools," he said. "It gives us the ground rules for how religion comes into public schools."
The Constitution says that government cannot establish religion, but it also says that the government cannot inhibit religious freedom. Therefore it gives room for students and even teachers to express their faith in school.
"The part that a teacher in public school can do is till the soil and plant the seed," Laursen said.
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