Is It Illegal to Say “God Bless America”?
This article was originally featured in Focus on the Family President Jim Daly’s blog, DalyFocus™
Have you noticed that many of our cultural elites who demand tolerance in the public square are actually extremely intolerant of anything they don’t agree with?
That came to mind again the other day when I learned that the federal government had issued yet another directive to thousands of public school districts and universities nationwide. This directive—issued on New Year’s Eve—is one of a steady stream of top-down orders from the federal government that have been sent to schools in the form of “Dear Colleague” letters from the Department of Education and its Office for Civil Rights.
These mandates direct schools to create “safe learning environments” and urgently work to end “discrimination and harassment” against vulnerable groups. The wide array of groups singled out for extra protection have included the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) population, “gender-identity” harassment victims, and in this latest letter, various cultural minorities.
While I strongly agree with the important principle of having compassion toward and protecting vulnerable people from harassment, I can’t help but notice a glaring blind spot in all of these federal edicts:
Where is the urgent concern for protecting another group whose values are regularly being ridiculed and violated—the students and parents who want the freedom to acknowledge our Judeo-Christian heritage?
For example, where was the federal government’s sympathy and concern when students at a New Jersey school were forced to stop their patriotic tradition of saying “God Bless America” after the reciting the Pledge?
That tradition began after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. However, due to recent threats from the ACLU, it has abruptly ended. Parents have said their kids want to keep saying the phrase regardless, but they stand alone—while the government remains silent.
Likewise, where is the federal government’s concern for the parents who simply want the right to protect their children’s innocence and sexual privacy?
Case in point: One of Illinois’ largest school districts (Palatine) was forced by the federal government to disregard the concerns of many of its own parents and students—who were pleading for the school to protect female students’ physical privacy.
At first the school tried to honor those requests by accommodating the student with private areas to undress. But that wasn’t enough. D.C. officials stepped in and told the school it had to provide unfettered access or it would be at risk of losing federal funding.
The federal government “has no business telling us what to do at a local level especially on this,” Vicki Wilson, a mother of a sophomore, told a reporter. A 15-year-old student also explained that it “just doesn’t feel right knowing someone with male anatomy is in the bathroom with me.”
Then there is the double standard of universities kicking Christian clubs off campuses versus the calls for the government to publicly list Christian colleges who stand accused of requesting a “license to discriminate” against LGBT-identified students. The Christian colleges’ crime? Exercising their religious-freedom right to request an exemption from federal policies that violate their biblical stance on sexuality.
Don’t professors and students have a right to express their faith, too?
These trends reveal a culture—and even a government—that is increasingly intolerant of the values of Christian students and parents, and even basic parental rights.
What do you think? In your community or schools, have you noticed inconsistency in the frequent calls for tolerance—for some but not all?