Friday, January 18, 2002
Some truths not self-evident
Is proposed school quote history? Or religion?
By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FRANKFORT A Northern Kentucky lawmaker feels so strongly in the importance of the Declaration of Independence he wants part of it recited daily in public schools.
But civil libertarians are concerned the effort by Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, is a veiled attempt to get God into the classroom.
This is the passage Mr. Fischer wants recited in classrooms:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Why choose just this one excerpt ... that largely talks about a deity? asked Jeff Vessels, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky in Louisville. That suggests there is an intent to focus on God.
But Mr. Fischer said he is focused on history, civics, virtue and patriotism and not religion with the bill he has filed with the Kentucky General Assembly.
I came up with this because of the Sept. 11 disaster and the patriotic reaction to that attack, Mr. Fischer said Thursday. I think it is appropriate to at least have children understand the reasons we defend our country.
I'm trying to teach civic virtue and the Declaration of Independence is the foundation of our democracy, he said. The intent is not to get God in the classroom per se. It is to help children to become better citizens.
The law would apply to public-school students in grades 3-12.
Mr. Vessels said he is concerned about how teachers will discuss the passage with students.
If the purpose is to somehow have public-school teachers tell students they must believe in a deity, that creates issues with religious freedoms, he said.
Mr. Fischer said he wants teachers to discuss the meaning of the historic document so students better understand the founding of the country.
The major reason I did this was for students to understand the importance of defending the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Mr. Fischer said.
Mr. Vessels said he has not decided whether the ACLU will lobby or testify against the bill, which has been assigned to the House Education Committee.
Airports rely on dogs for security
Legal bills mount for federal inquiry
Fitness club worker charged in steroid trafficking
Shaken-baby' case brings 7 years
Events honor civil rights leader
Hospitals offer patients brochure about diversions
Military time off disputed
Police charge man trying to meet girl, 14
Scribes connect faithful
Suburban moms' cars easy targets for thieves
Teen appeals sex charge
Tristate A.M. Report
Woman found shot in lobby of motel
HOWARD: Some Good News
RADEL: Pet licenses
WELLS: Armed and dangerous
Antiques show moves to school
Bypass plans shelved
Commissioners oppose revision
It'll be chili today in Mason
Mason pares school construction
Teachers display support for negotiators
Electric chair to be kept ready, just in case
Many seniors fall short in tests
Biodiesel bill OK'd, blasted by users
Florence Mayor Whalen files to run for re-election
Grand jury gets teen rape case
IRS ousts mom who shot man
Kentucky News Briefs
League seeks higher pay for mayors
Legislation aims to protect women, kids
Some truths not self-evident