And long those same lines, here’s Ulysses S. Grant …

JISHOU, HUNAN — Serendipitously, here’s a quote from President Grant, speaking before Civil War veterans a century after Adams wrote his letters. Let us all labor to add all needful guarantees for the security of free thought, free speech, a free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men irrespective of nationality, color or religion. Encourage free schools, and resolve that not one dollar, appropriated for their support, shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian schools. Resolve that neither the state nor nation, nor both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford to every child growing up in the land the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistical dogmas. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate. With these safeguards, I believe the battles which created the Army of the Tennessee will not have been fought in vain. (Source) The context for his remarks were sectarian battles in many cities about what religious ideas should be taught in tax-supported schools. Grant’s ...

John Freshwater: the gift that keeps on giving 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — Back when I was a science teacher, I started blogged about an Ohio public school science teacher who got in hot water for (1) allegedly using a Tesla coil on his students, (2) teaching evolution was false and (3) going overboard with his religious proselytizing in the classroom. Without going into a lot of details, let’s just say that teacher, John Freshwater of Mount Vernon, was removed from classroom teaching pending an administrative hearing about insubordination. After a two-year-long administrative hearing process, Freshwater lost his job earlier this year. He and the Mount Vernon school system were also named in a federal discrimination complaint brought by a student’s family; the school district settled out of court and Freshwater, following an unsuccessful appeal, also had to pay damages to the family. Meanwhile, he filed, and later dropped, his own discrimination complaint in federal court against the school system. So, after all these proceedings which suggest that Freshwater was to some degree culpable, I learn that he has the nerve to play the victim card on David Barton and Rick Green’s WallBuilders Live radio program. Here’s a partial transcript, courtesy of Right Wing Watch. Freshwater: When the 2007/2008 school ...

Iowa justices wield impeccable logic, reiterate church-state separation 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — The decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to clear the way for same-sex marriage in that state is big news, but the masterfully clear logic of the court’s ruling is even more impressive. It is worth reading the 69-page ruling, even if you are not a student of the law, just to see how keen minds operate. In addition, the court clearly restated the premise of the separation of church and state enshrined in both the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions. Christian Dominionists are bound to be unhappy about that part of the opinion, since they insist the USA is a “Christian nation” founded on Christian principles. Interestingly, the decision was unanimous. Of the seven justices, two are Republican appointees and the rest are Democratic appointees. Had the decision been split 5-2, critics could cry “liberal bias” and “activist judges.” A unanimous ruling speaks volumes for the power of the law. The issue of course was whether the civil marriage statute in Iowa’s books discriminated against same-sex couples who wish to marry. The Court carefully examined whether same-sex couples were “similar situated” as opposite-sex couples, that is, are their circumstances the same? And does the law as worded ...
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