Florida’s History Revisited

On “Alex Wagner Tonight,” a Florida teacher voiced concern over the state’s new public school civics curriculum.  It seems Governor DeSantis and cohorts would gloss over the stigma of slavery and impose Christian precepts into what students are taught about the state’s history.

The slavery piece puzzles me.  Do Conservative lawmakers reason that, by somehow sanitizing slavery since the Declaration of Independence and prejudice, bigotry, and lynchings since Emancipation, young Floridians may be made amenable to a conservative political climate which effectively rejects that, “all (people) are created equal?”

Regarding the Christian piece, in an interview with Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers’ Union, The Washington Post’s Lori Rozsa writes, “Union members who attended (training) were being told to present to students ‘only one side of history,’”  “It was basically, this way or no way, like there’s only one side to American history,” Fusco said.  “Then they kind of slipped in a Christian values piece, ignoring the fact that this country is made up of so many different cultures and religions.”

As I understand, the rationale behind DeSantis and colleagues’ interjecting Christian precepts into the public-school curriculum falls back on “Originalism.”  Accord to Wikipedia:
“In the context of United States law, originalism is a concept regarding the interpretation of the Constitution that all statements in the constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding “at the time it was adopted.”

Apparently, the folks rewriting Florida’s civics curriculum believe, “at the time (the constitution) was adopted“ our Founding Fathers intended that governance of The United States of America reflect Christian precepts.  

Being ignorant regarding “originalism” and the Constitution’s framers’ thinking, I Googled.  A History channel piece, “Freedom of Religion,” explains the Founding Fathers’ reasoning regarding religion in the First Amendment:  

“In 1785, Virginia statesman (and future president) James Madison argued against state support of Christian religious instruction.  Madison would go on to draft the First Amendment, a part of the Bill of Rights that would include constitutional protection for certain individual liberties including freedom of religion  .  .  .  “!  (my emphasis)

Hence: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof  .  .  .”

Apart from flying in the face of the First Amendment, the implications and complications inherent in imposing any religious doctrine into public-school curricula would cross a rabbi’s eyes.  From Huguenots, Puritans, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, Methodists, Moravians, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Quakers, Mormonism, Agnostics, and Atheists, to Jews, Sikhs, Islamics, Hindus, and Buddhists the dilemma is, whose religion is taught on the taxpayers’ dime?

In a country committed to liberty, equality, and freedom, the First Amendment must never be abrogated for religious preference.  Potential impact of such an abrogation calls to mind the wit and wisdom of Winston Churchill, “History will treat me kindly, for I shall write it.”

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