thinking between the lines

Have We Kicked God Out of Our Schools?


I am a teacher, and like the vast majority of teachers, I love my work. By this, I do not mean I love the curriculum and bells; I mean I love my students and would do anything necessary to protect them.

Maybe this is why I can’t seem to break away from the news concerning the school shooting in Connecticut. In the midst of the horror unfolding, I’m hoping to hear the beginnings of a solution. Is it in stronger gun control laws? Psychological testing and treatment? What about arming teachers so they can better defend their students?

All these ideas, though well-intentioned, don’t seem realistic or capable of preventing future violence at schools. Even if we control guns, people with evil intentions will find a way to get a gun. Mental health testing is beyond the scope of management. How can we test everyone? Would we only test people wanting to buy guns? As this latest shooting shows, people can perpetrate their crimes without purchasing a single gun. Arming teachers (trust me on this) would only lend more risk to volatile situations that occur at schools in much higher frequency than shootings.

Still, there’s another idea I’ve encountered that suggests this tragedy is the result of taking God out of school, and if we’ll just allow him back in things will be as they should be. I have to admit, this is the one I find most perplexing.

When asked if God has left our schools, the general response seems to be yes, he has. Yet, if we consider the implication of this belief, we might decide we don’t want to own it. Are we saying that almighty God serves under the power of human boundaries? He can’t be in schools because humans say so? I doubt any of us intend that to be the message; although, that is what this belief communicates. It also suggests, in this case, that God is more than willing to punish young children, even allow their deaths, to gain access to an institution. That, too, is something very few would want to imply about God.

So, has God left our schools? I say no and point to this very tragedy to support my belief. As sickened as I am over this horrific event, I find myself incredibly uplifted when I hear about the educators who sacrificed their lives for their students. Hearing the stories of their self-sacrifice, I am left amazed and incredibly inspired. Their testimony is like balm to me, even to our communal hurt.

Actually, the more I ponder this side of the story, the more I realize that the actions of these teachers undeniably give pause to the idea that God has abandoned the school. After all, the last testimony of these educators is overflowing with the quintessential love Jesus speaks of when he says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I ask, can there be any greater testimony to the presence, power, and love of God – yes, in our schools?

If this terroristic attack on such beautiful innocence cannot ban God and his love from a school, then how can we suggest that men’s pens striking signatures on government documents can accomplish such a feat? No – no matter the actions of men – our God cannot be kicked out of anywhere.

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Categorised in: Culture, Education, Faith, Politics

19 Responses »

  1. Excellent. Beautifully spoken. I wholeheartedly agree.

  2. I am an aethist, and a teacher, and a mother of elementary school aged children. I have gotten tired of some of the conservative Christians saying horrible things after this tragedy, all in the name of their religion. And using scripture to quote why things happened as they did. I have many good friends who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. I respect their rights and their beliefs as I hope they respect mine. Thank you for writing an intelligent and beautifully spoken commentary of your beliefs. I would like to think that everyone’s God and spirtuality comes from within each of us and we carry that with us everyday, everywhere we go, and that includes into our schools.

  3. Love this. I just stumbled upon this after seeing your more recent post. I wrote something similar yesterday. I am appalled at the types of things people are grasping at in an attempt to explain away this tragedy. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. While I disagree on your point of arming teachers would be a bad idea (see another school district for this), you have made a great point on the tragedy and how God has used it. I, too, don’t believe God has abandoned our schools. God never abandons us. We may move away, but He doesn’t. You can’t erase God by making it difficult to worship Him at schools. We still have the power to pray.

  5. While I disagree with your position on armed teachers (as a school district in Texas has used it and an armed teacher managed to prevent a school shooting in another town by taking out the gunman), what you said here is right on. God hasn’t abandoned our schools. We may have walked away, but He hasn’t.

  6. Geneology Lady, with all due respect, people do have a right to pray in school whatever their religion, but it seems only Christians get told they can’t pray publically.

    • Not true. Any Christian can pray anywhere he or she wants in the US. A government institution or quasi-government institution, such as a school, cannot LEAD or endorse prayer. It’s a very simple, easy to understand concept, is in the constitution, and was put there to insure that our country wouldn’t be controlled by powerful institutions claiming they derive their power from God.

      • Thank you. One would think that as vigorously as some of my evangelical sisters and brothers try to exercise their “rights,” they would take the time to do a little homework. I don’t like for anyone, especially those of us within the Christian faith, to espouse half -truths.

  7. God is not an object that can be taken away from someone, if you teach your child to be strong in their belief then they will know God is with them always. I do understand the fine line that school districts must walk to be fair to the diversity that many districts have. We must respect everyone…respect doesn’t mean you must agree with someone. Beautifully written.

  8. Lisa,
    As I stated in, Really? This is NOT helpful!, God does not inhabit buildings and institutions but hearts and minds. Therefore if His presence is lacking it isn’t because He’s been banned from a building but because people aren’t letting Him in and allowing His love to flow through them. It was not His will or choice that the destruction and devastation occurred, but it was His will and love in action when the teachers and staff sacrificed and protected and first responders ran to not away.

    Well stated.


  9. Thank you for this post and the letter to America. I’m sorry you are getting so much negative feedback. Thank you for standing up for all of us teachers. We need a term like “armchair quarterback” to explain all these people who have no idea what goes on in schools, but feel the need to have an opinion. God is definitely present in my school. As is the respect and love for those who do not agree with that opinion.

  10. I do think we have not only kicked God out of our schools, we have kicked God out of our country. And we are reaping the benefits. And at some point, like Sodom and Gomorrah, we will be severly punished, as God will only tolerate so much before the crackdown. Unfortunately, mankind seems to only turn to God when horrible events happen. But that is MY belief, from watching our country grow ever more violent, our music and TV disgusting and full of sin and evil. I can hardly watch TV or listen to the radio without feeling a sense of disgust. And if I, as a flawed Christian, feels this, what does God feel? We flaunt our sin to the world, the “leader”, and watch the followers fall into our sick wake.

  11. You are right God is everywhere and He is not bound by the laws of men. What we have done with our schools and our nation is that we have stopped acknowledging Him and there are vast number of people in our nation who don’t even know who He is. We need to step out of our comfort zones and proclaim who and what God is and has done for each any everyone of us. Have a very Merry Christmas.

  12. I currently live and teach in Istanbul Turkey. While this has historically been a secular country for very good reasons (see Ataturk & Independence) this nation is currently undergoing great pressure from it’s religious leaders to depart from secular government and return to Muslim influence, including the school systems. Americans will read this and throw up their hands in terror at the idea of Muslim religion governing public schools… yet many so called Christians believe that this is what will turn America around. God cannot be “removed” from either public or private lives. HE is everywhere, and no amount of human effort can change this. It is only when INDIVIDUAL hearts yearn enough for his presence among us that evil will be forced to depart. I don’t see that happening through religious education, but through loving practices in our daily lives.

  13. Where I cannot lift my eyes, You are there,
    Where I cannot find my way, You are there,
    Where I cannot hold my tongue, You are there,
    Where I have no prayer, You are there.

    A. Cleveland

  14. There are so many different points of view which only lead to mass confusion and frustration about why such horrific things like this happen. Are there really any answers? Or has the problem become way bigger than us? Have we lost control? Is the world just spiraling downward and innocents becoming victims? It gives us all a lot to think about.


  1. Have We Kicked God Out of Our Schools? | Laura A. Diaz ~ Books and Beyond
  2. Have We Kicked God Out of Our Schools? | Laura A. Diaz ~ Books and Beyond

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