Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Unexpected Education Victory

Here is an unexpected and welcome news item. An appellate court actually held against an attempt to censor religion in public education. A South Carolina law permits students to take what is called "Released Time." That refers to periods when public school students leave school during the school day to receive instruction somewhere else. It is estimated that more than 250,000 students in 32 states participate in Released Time instruction during the school day each year. South Carolina law allows public schools to give credit to students who use their "Released Time" to take religion courses. There is wide variation among the states in the use of this opportunity and as to how much time is allowed. South Carolina allows public school students to earn credit for religion courses taken during Released Time at off-school locations, so some opponents of this program sued to stop it.

You might ask why anyone who does not participate in this voluntary program would sue to close it down. No student is required to take any of theses religious courses. Homeschooled students, and students at various private schools, receive similar religious instruction without serious objection. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty was the organization that successfully defeated this attack on the South Carolina law. It was able to cite a U.S. Supreme Court decision from back in 1952, which upheld Released Time programs against constitutional challenge in a case called Zorach v. Clauson. That decision was written by Justice William O. Douglas, a liberal and no friend of religion. In upholding South Carolina's Released Time program, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that "We see no evidence that the program has had the effect of establishing religion or that it has entangled the School District in religion." So, score one victory for religion and a defeat for the atheists who are trying to banish religion from our culture.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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