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Guidelines to Better Religious Liberty

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2020 8:52 am

Guidelines to Better Religious Liberty

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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February 3, 2020 8:52 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs talks to Eric Buehrer, founder of Gateways to Better Education. Buehrer tells the story of his organization’s work to update the US Department of Education’s guidelines for religious liberty, so that students, teachers, and administrators are aware of their Constitutionally protected religious liberties.

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Family policy matters in engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Rustin, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will feel better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters Tracy to veterans. Thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters. The North Carolina family policy staff was invited to listen in on a briefing from Pres. trumps White House staff. Recently, the call came on the day the president had declared as religious freedom day and was designed to unveil some new protections for our religious liberties. Listen, I was excited to hear that gateways to better education played a part in bringing about some of those changes will gateways to better education has been active in our state.

In the past, instructing education, personnel and individuals about their religious liberties in school and NC family has featured their work several times over the years will today were happy to have Eric Drer here with us. He is the founder and president of gateways to better education.

Eric pure are welcome to family policy matters much good to be with you. I will first of all to last Eric about gateways to better education. You will do a great job and at times seem to be everywhere to tell us how your organization came to be involved in changing policy that has the potential to affect students all over the nation as an organization or goal used to create more faith friendly public school where students understanding of the freedom to express themselves were teachers understanding of the freedom to teach about the Bible and Christianity, and we show them how to do that, all legally and appropriately within the public school setting So much more than many teachers and students think they can do.

But you know reaching out and asking the Department of Education to update these guidelines didn't take a big organization to do that.

It really was myself and a colleague of mine from California State University Long Beach Dr. Bill James.

We sat down and we said hey this time to update these guidelines. Let's send a letter to Sec. divorce and give her our recommendations for what should be done and it wasn't because we had some big clout with all but we just made the case and so there's an example of how any citizen can reach out to an elected official to a department within their stage or their government and say hey this is wrong.

This needs to be righted, and it can be done so I want to encourage your listeners with everyone can step up and do that sort of thing where I really appreciate you making that point because we tell people all the time here in North Carolina that they can make a huge difference when they speak to the representatives that they listen will tell us what happened.

Then after you sent that letter because I was back in 2017. Right yes this is been nearly 3 years in the making, and we sent a letter and then what'll happen is if your listeners do the same sort of thing with their elected officials and all is you get this form letter that comes back and said thank you very much we appreciate that and will keep you posted if we ever want to do anything with this. Okay, welcome to the bureaucracy. So we just kept knocking on the door and we would call we would email and we would send letters just again. Hey, how's it going and then happen to be out in DC for another event made an appointment with couple of their attorneys sat down with them and began to hear hey this is in process. We can't talk about all the details, but we can just let you know this is in process. We don't know when it will be released and so they were very guarded about talking about it and that was fine and then we got the announcement and was very exciting with basically a weeks notice hey this is happening.

We'd like you come back and join the president and secretary divorce in the White House and the Oval Office and that your flight get out here it was okay were on. Okay, so what do these new federal guidelines do for us. Well, for instance, now there specifically wording that says students may also speak to an attempt to persuade their peers about religious topics just as they would do regarding political topics. It also gives them the opportunity to distribute literature to their classmates if they want to hand out invitations to a church event, or they want handouts from some Scriptures something like that perfectly legal for them to do. It's not that the guidelines have added any rights. These rights are already there. What is done is it clarified and made teachers more aware of it. It's also added for teachers section on teaching about religion that had been removed and they put it back in and this just clarifies the teachers yes they can teach all about the religious history.

The impact of religion on society teach about the Bible teach about holidays long as are not having catechism having Sunday school, but they are teaching about it from an academic standpoint they're free to do that a couple other things also were very important in this was new one is they added an element of accountability previously. The guideline simply said school had shown that they had no policy restricting student prayer. Okay well that's pretty low bar coming yet.

We have no written policy. We don't promote it, and when we see it happen. We try to stop it.

We have no policy against it.

This now. They scattered if a student wants to complain and issues a formal complaint to the school district. The district has to report up to the state state has to report that to the federal government and so then now the Department of education is collecting cases where there is discrimination going on and that's very important.

Accountability portion.

Another thing that was added was they often would replace the word religious content with religious perspectives that another words, students have the right to include religious content in their homework in their class discussions in their oral presentations. Now the change that to. They have the right to their religious perspectives and at first I thought what interesting and we wonder why they made that change but then as I began to think about it in the last 10 years we've seen so much pressure on educators to say oh that religious perspective on gender identity on same-sex marriage on abortion that's bigoted so you can't talk about that. That's hate crime. That's hate speech and this clearly says those religious perspectives cannot be squelched listening hosting weekly radio show and podcast of the North Carolina family policy Council. This is just one of the many ways and works to educate citizens across Carolina about policy issues that impact families. Our vision is to create a state a nation where God is on religious freedom versus families and life's cherished more information about his family and how you can help us to achieve incredible vision for our state and nation. Visit our website and see family.org and see family.org and be sure to sign up to receive our email updates, action alerts, and of course reflexive publication family North Carolina magazine.

We also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and so when you mentioned that some of the things are not new and just needed to be clarified.

I'm assuming you see this quite often that these types of things need to be clarified over and over again. They do because the biggest problem is not overt hostility toward religion, ignorance and fear.

We work all over the country and we find that teachers just don't know these things and so they assume because of the so-called separation of church and state that they have to make their classrooms religion free zones and they're afraid that they'll get in trouble if they allow something to happen or if they teach about anything. Freshly Christianity I love one of the statements that secretary divorce said in releasing these guidelines. She said the notion of separation of church and state is not an invitation for the government to separate people from their faith and that was powerful because I think that's well.

We've seen it in public schools is okay you leave your faith at your home and you come to public school and you pretend you're an atheist while you're here, and she was very clear in saying no, no, that's not the point.

The point is you can express who you are, you can be who you are and we need to help teachers and administrators and students understand this area of religious freedom that they have in a public school life signs or perspectives. Interesting that you believe that much of what happens that maybe infringes on our religious liberties is because people don't know that our teachers, even administrators are not aware of what they truly allowed to do in schools or allowance goals so that changes the way that we as a student or teacher or parents might approach teacher or administrator that we feel is infringing on our child's religious liberties doesn't really does in one of the things that we recommend is when a parent has a complaint about it. Religious discrimination issue in the school that instead of going at the blowtorch to the school principal and how dare this happen in on what I call a legal organization and they're going to sue you instead you go and you say, I thought he should alert you to a potentially embarrassing problem because administrators just don't want trouble and now you come as a friend. Thanks. Look, something just happened and I'm I know if you were aware of it. You would not want this to happen. Then you explain the issue you explain, for instance, using the guidelines. Here's what students religious liberties are so this shouldn't have happened and you know if this became public, it would cause a problem and I'd hate to see that happen. Now your friend helping in the situation and that will get you further then going to the school board and making a big deal of it and then everybody circled the wagons and they defend the school and you're not a helper. Your urine agitator so guidelines like these necessary Constitution and the Bill of Rights attacks religious freedom for everyone really does. But what the guidelines have done is its compiled court cases legal history to say here's how to get applied in a classroom environment or in a school environment so the guidelines.

It's not that they're adding anything new, but they're bringing clarity based on case law and in the history of all of this in our schools. What should someone do they believe that their religious freedom rights been violated. I know you mentioned that first of all they need to contact the teacher then you contact the school administrator because school districts are structured in a hierarchy of authority. If you go right to the school board. The first question and ask you, did you talk to the teacher about this so you start with the teacher go the principal didn't go to the superintendent. But if you feel like you need to have something written for you from a legal perspective, then organizations like alliance defending freedom is a great organization and they can write a letter. I have one of their attorneys write a letter that simply clarifies what the Lord really says and that it simply needs to be corrected often times is all that it takes to correct the situation were just about time for this week.

But before we go where listeners go to learn more about religious liberty in public schools and about your organization gateways to better education.

We set up a page on our website specifically for this work going at the national free to speak campaign if they go to go gateways.O RG/free to speak visit go gateways.org/free to speak. We have the guidelines there from the Department of Education. We have our analysis of it.

We have videos that teachers can show in class that parents can show to their kids that churches can show to their youth groups. We got articles we've also got a place where we want teacher to begin to post lesson plans on students religious liberties. We want this to be a hub for where teachers and parents and pastors can get information to empower their students with director free speech rights are interesting. Our president of gateways to better education. Thank you for joining us on family policy matters. Thank you so much. Great to be with you, listening to family policy matters program again next week to listen to the show a lot more about NC families work encourage and inspire families across the website it NC families on NC family.org.

Thanks again for listening and may God bless you


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