Shortly after I arrived in Texas to teach, the Texas Education Agency informed me that I lacked a required course in Educational Psychology. I signed up for a class that was being offered by a state university at nearby Fort Bliss.
The first class had barely begun when, in response to a question by the instructor, one of the students said, “The Good Book says spare the rod and spoil child.” The instructor, who held a Ph.D. in Psychology, held up his hand and stated rather emphatically, “Because of the controversial nature of religion there will be no references made to the Bible in this class.” He then proceeded with his lecture.
Although no one else seemed to be bothered by his remark, it bothered me that a book was being banned from discussion, especially THAT book. When he recognized my raised my hand I said, “This is supposed to be a class in human behavior as it relates to the field of education. No other book has had as great an impact on behavior in our society as has the Bible. It bothers me that the book is being banned from any mention in this class.”
“Okay,” he said. “How many of you think it is alright to quote from the Bible in this class?” Out of thirteen students, twelve raised their hands. “How many of you are opposed to any reference to the Bible?” One hand went up.
Pointing to the one dissenter he declared, “Out of respect for YOUR right to not hear anything from the Bible, there will be no references made to the Bible in this class.” He then proceeded with his lecture as if nothing had transpired. Everyone just sat there and seemed to accept his ultimatum. It bothered me even more than before. I raised my hand.
“We live in the United States of America which is supposed to be a democracy,” I said. “We just took a vote about the proposal to ban the Bible from this class and it was defeated by a twelve to one majority. It bothers me no end that the minority won.”
He looked me over with a rather haughty air of disdain and said firmly, “I’m sorry if you thought this class was a democracy. This is MY class and I make the rules. There will be no references made to the Bible in this class!” End of discussion. I was sure that on the first day of class I had earned myself a failing grade, but when all was said and done, I managed to get credit for the course.
I recently substituted for a teacher in a high school government class. The students were to answer some questions about the United States Constitution’s “Bill of Rights.” I could tell that they knew very little about the topic and that it didn’t seem to matter much, anyway. I decided that it was time to do some lecturing.
I tried to address the subject with as much passion as I dared emphasizing the importance of the supreme law of the land. The Constitution in general and the Bill of Rights in particular protect us in our God-given rights as citizens of this great country. That’s right—God given. The Declaration of Independence states emphatically:
“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.”
Our basic rights are granted to us by God, not by the government. The government receives its power or authority from the “consent of the governed,” in other words, from us. It is my sincere hope and prayer that the day never comes when the government of the United States says to its citizens, “I’m sorry if you thought this was a democracy. I’m in charge here and I make the rules!”
It is written, “I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold…” (D&C 98:8-10)