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January 5, 2017 12:00 pm
Eric Buehrer, President of Gateways to Better Education talks about a great new opportunity here in North Carolina for parents, teachers, school leaders, and churches to learn about and promote religious freedom in their local schools.
Called to be salt and light. Use salt to make something better not bitter and using light as a blowtorch. Thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters. Tracy Greg's director of communications at NC family. I'm sitting in this week for John rest I guess today is Eric Fuhrer, founder and president of gateways to better education will be talking with Eric about a great new opportunity here in North Carolina for parents, teachers, school leaders and churches to learn about and promote religious freedom in our local schools. Eric is a former public school teacher and now a licensed minister who writes and lectures extensively on the subject of religion and public education, including with Focus on the Family breakpoint American family Association Journal is been seen and heard on CBS this morning. The 700 club and family news in focus Eric you get around the world and doing squat one welcome to family policy matters. Thank you. Good to be with you. Let's open by talking about the mission of gateways to better education, which I see is to create a better future for our children by keeping God in our schools. So what motivated you to start an organization with this mission and what are the main ways you work to achieve the goal. Well, my wife and I were concerned about always happening in our culture.
What I saw happening session and how there was just that somehow all you have do take religion, especially Christianity out of public school context and there is a lot of misinformation regarding the separation of church and state. How about applied to classrooms. We realize that if were going to restore America as the founders said religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged that was written in the Northwest ordinance of 1787 founders were basically saying look for them to sustain this wonderful American experiment that we set up we need to have religion, morality, knowledge in the schools or means of delivering what we've done today is take religion out right Ensure about morality more only knowledge is necessary as I asked my audiences all over the country. How's that working out for us not to well and so we said, look, there is an appropriate way to bring God back into a public school setting. In a way that doesn't violate any establishment clause simply recognize it as a deacon. Significant part of her cultural history undervalues so that's what gateways is about doing is helping teachers know how to do it appropriately within the law within constitutional boundaries and that have the confidence to do it with academic integrity.
While it's painfully obvious by decisions made from time to time in public schools around the nation that teachers and administrators and even parents can be very confused over what kind of religious expression is legal in public schools. I know you cover this at great length in your workshops, but could you briefly explain our First Amendment protections in regard to what happens in schools and why are people so often miss use that term separation of church and state.
You know we always advise people when the issue comes up. People say, well, separation of church and state. We can do that you say will wait.
Let's unpack that a little bit. One separation of church and state really needs arming the church or synagogue has to have their own fire and police department because the states police department and fire department can help a religious organization. Well, although I don't believe that. Okay well then you know is not as hermetically sealed off as we often think this wall of separation or state standards expected to teach about religion. The federal government is that students have religious liberties that are not agents of the state. There are citizens who are free to express themselves and they can do so in the classroom and as you begin to unpack that term operation of church and state. People begin to realize okay it's not us as solid wall as I once thought were not advocating the public schools become Christian schools, but we do expect him to honor and welcome students of faith of all face and how to express that in the classroom and their values and their homework and artwork and presentations that are schools become faith friendly places and were teachers don't shy away from teaching about the significant role of religion in history and culture and values. We find it teachers often don't have a problem doing that when it comes to other religions, world religions when it comes to Christianity. They tend sure we can do that separation of church and state in the real hesitant and so we help them see how they can do that with academic integrity within the law, but still do it robustly great. I understand you're going to personally be bringing some of that information to North Carolina were very excited here at North Carolina family that you are going to be bringing your faith freedom in public schools workshop to North Carolina next month and I understand there are two parts, one for educators and one for parents tell us about the one first design for teachers and administrators is on the Saturday morning from nine till 1230 and we go over to major portions. One is the first part would you with the foundation that is what the law says what North Carolina's academic standards. Expect the fact that it's part of our culture and then we show the research that ties religious upbringing, with moral development of students, and so that helps teachers right away confidence that this is a good thing. We show them that this is not about how I reach my kids for Christ how to place multiple Bibles behind the closed country how to light somehow do something that sneaky regarding evangelism. That's not what this is about. This is about how I teach robustly to my students about the impact of the Bible and Christianity in history, culture and values in the second half is where we actually give them very practical inclusion strategies how you actually make this work. It's great in theory, yet we know the law supports it. We know that as part of our academic standards but how I actually make that work. And so then we go and get very practical strategies that they can immediately apply the next week in their classrooms, from how to teach about the Pledge of Allegiance and what it means to be a nation under God to getting very specific in their academic subjects. Show them how to what students religiously resource they can create faith friendly classrooms. We we show them how to address the holidays and very practical terms, teaching a religious nature of the holidays so there's the two portions. One is the foundation of the legal and academic and the other is the practical application of that memory teachers gonna come away with one or two or three or even more ideas that they can immediately apply classrooms so that the educator part of your workshop and that happens on a Saturday morning, but you also provide apparent conferences well right before the we do keeping their faith in public schools, how to help your children graduate with their faith and values intact and there. We help the parents and how to teach your kids discernment about what the learning in class how to think disturbingly about what the teacher says scripturally and the Scripture addresses every area of academic pursuit. And so we we actually provide the, the parents with Bible verses that they can walk your kids through to help them understand how Jesus would think. Is he sitting in class with the student as he is sitting there with the student.
How is he thinking about the subject and secondly how to talk to a teacher when you have a concern.
Every parent has concerns about how their kids are being taught in the environment there and yet there are good ways and there are not so good ways to approach that issue. We often say are called to be salt and light, but we use salt to make something better not bitter, and we use light as a lamp, not a blowtorch and too often when it comes to public schools.
Christians get a reputation for being salt that makes people bitter and the life that really burns everything in its path and I will show them how to use what we call relational activism how to use the relationships God's given you to really influence for the good not only your own child's education, but all the children in the classroom. So it's very practical strategies you're listening to policy matters of resource from family to listen to our radio show online and from what resources that will be a voice of persuasion in your community to our website and see family.org looks to me like you most often offer your workshops through local churches. So why is that and what role do churches play in preserving freedom of religion in our local schools will recent research has shown that over 80% of church attending families send their kids to public schools, so that is a huge population. Even with all the building of Christian schools and homeschooling. The vast majority of Christians send their kids to the public schools and yet churches often times not sure how to address that issue. How to minister to the very families that are in their congregations and have kids in public schools, and so churches often are the ones that are interested in bringing this in to give their people and understanding of what they can do and local churches are also interested in helping school leaders and educators understand how to be culturally sensitive and responsive and aware of the many students that those churches are sending in public schools.
Such a great way for the church to reach out to the school note school understand how they can be more sensitive and responsive to the many students they send stand that you are videotaping this event coming up in February and this is good news right for a lot of the small churches spread all across North Carolina and really beyond North Carolina. That's right, we want to be able to make this available to you. I think a lot of people want to have a lot of experience they want to be able to ask questions and those are two things, but then there are smaller and smaller churches simply can't afford to put on like this. We are so thankful Westover is putting this on to be such a great event in such a magnificent church but a lot of churches are smaller and they may have just a dozen or so teachers in the congregation or in your community that would be at this, we want to be able to make it available to them as well crank the event that your offering in February. It's right in the middle of the state give us the details on that and will close because were about at the end of our time was going to be the other parent is Friday evening on February 3 and the educator's seminar will be Saturday morning from nine until 1230 on February 4 and Westover churches in Greensboro, North Carolina.
So look forward to anybody coming in. You can register for by going to go gateways.org/events visit go gateways.org/events and then simply look up the Westover Greensboro events of February 3 and February 4. The parent event is complementary and the teachers event is $15. If you sign up before January 15 and then it goes up to $20 from January 16 on that's very reasonable and I'm assuming parents could ask some teachers churches could offer scholarships to teachers and that kind of thing to if they wanted to get their local teachers and their that's right reason were able offer such a low rate is because Westover themselves is really subsidizing the entire seminar is normally $120 value and Westover's committed to this said no, the court is asking for a small amount from each teacher there will be some reflections of certain things there, and so this is a great opportunity really not that I think you're good to come away from is going to change the way you teach in the classroom learn things in that seminar that you never thought you could do in your classroom to show you how to do that you can defend yourself to any parent you need ministry calling. It does sound like a wonderful opportunity.
Thank you so much for coming, and of course thank you to Westover church for helping to bring you guys into town.
Once you give us your web address one more time in case people miss that and then will sign off church. They can visit go gateways.org/events go gateways.org/event's Eric PR. Thank you so much for joining us and family policy matters and for your great work to preserve our country's commitment to religious freedom, particularly in our schools.
Thank you. You've been listening to family policy matters a production of NZ family to listen to our radio show online, and for more valuable resources and information about issues important to families in North Carolina go to my website and see family.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook