The WallBuilders Show

Restoring Faith in Schools: The Resurgence of Chaplains and Religious Liberty

January 29, 2024 Tim Barton, David Barton & Rick Green
The WallBuilders Show
Restoring Faith in Schools: The Resurgence of Chaplains and Religious Liberty
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Discover the profound impact of reintroducing faith into our public schools as we welcome Senator Mayes Middleton to reveal the prospects of introducing chaplains in education. This episode digs deep into the historic and constitutional threads of religious freedom in the United States, examining how recent Supreme Court rulings, including the pivotal Coach Kennedy case, have transformed the legal landscape and set a bold precedent for religious expression in schools. We navigate through Texas's aim to reweave a religious and moral fabric in our educational system and the potential ripple effects this could have nationwide.

As we confront the escalating challenges within our school halls, Senator Middleton eloquently defends the legislative efforts to restore a God-conscious foundation for our nation's youth. Reflect on the stark contrast between the bygone days of simpler school issues and today's dire problems in the secularized educational environment. This conversation not only highlights the necessity of a spiritual dimension in schools for the betterment of students but also serves as a call to action for listeners to champion these constitutional changes in their own communities.

Wrapping up, we celebrate the triumphs of religious freedom echoed by landmark legal victories and further explore how to proactively engage in expanding these liberties across America. With heartfelt thanks to our guest and a nod to resources like Kelly Shackelrford's religious freedom website, we underscore the importance of seizing every opportunity to foster and defend our right to religious expression. Join us on this inspiring journey to empower positive change and reinforce the foundational values that support the well-being of students and the future of our nation.

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Rick Green:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It's WallBuilders and we're taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. That includes topics like education, which will be our topic today, but of course we cover the gamut. Everything from entertainment and journalism to education, like we'll cover today, as well as a pile, though, different political issues and money and finance and biblical, honest weights and measures. I mean, you go down the list, every single subject, every single thing that we face in life, the Bible has something to say about it. Everything that we face in life there's a way to do that correctly in our particular Constitutional Republic and everything we face in life. We can learn something from history, because there's nothing new under the sun. Solomon was correct and the laws of nature and nature's God don't change. So the principles that the founders put in place with our Declaration of Independence and with our Constitution, those principles haven't changed. Very often, unfortunately, we adopt the wrong principles. We try to change the country by changing the principles that are poured into the culture, but if we get back to those Biblical principles of liberty, they will once again produce prosperity and peace and abundance and benevolence and all of those things. If we continue to adopt the principles of tyranny, they will produce famine and shortages and chaos and war and all of those things. As Noah Webster said, all the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, slavery and war proceed from their neglecting or despising the precepts contained in the Bible. That's why we give you that biblical perspective as we address all of these issues. I'm Rick Green, America's Constitution Coach, serving alongside David and Tim Barton, David is America's premier historian and our founder here at WallB uilders. Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallB uilders. All right, guys, we got a state senator from Texas joining us here in a minute after the break. Mayes Middleton and gonna be talking about actually a bill you guys went down and testified. Did you guys testify on chaplains? I know you testified on Ten Commandments, but this is a similar type situation where we're building on the coach Kennedy case and the overturning of Lemon and the state of Texas leading the way here on chaplains, in public schools, but I can't remember if you guys actually went down and testified on that.

Tim Barton:

We did not testify on the chaplains, although it was happening very close to the same time in the same committee and several of our friends who were there we got to connected with in the hall before it started to be with them even in some of the committee process. We did not testify on it and had we had, we've paid a little closer attention to the schedule we might have, but it was covered so well in Texas that it was not confusing. I think Brad Dacus from Pacific Justice Institute was there. There was a great team down there so they did not need any additional support from us, but we were there at the same time it was going on.

David Barton:

One of the interesting things about it is, there were several bills being heard that day because the climate is now so different. This is not stuff that we would have even tried three years ago, but after winning that Supreme Court case and the Kennedy decision where they dumped what's called the Lemon case, literally Americans have more religious liberty options available to them now that at any time probably in their lifetime, unless you happen to be 95 years old or something. So for most generations, this is this is the most religious liberty opportunity you've had. Now doesn't guarantee you have religious liberties. The court has just simply opened the door and you have to walk through it. That's what was happening to the legislature and, as Tim mentioned, there were great groups down there testifying. So there were numerous religious liberty bills that day, and this is Texas trying to take a step forward, and every state needs to do this. Every step needs to do the same thing Texas is doing. You need chaplains in schools. You need Ten Commandments back up of the walls classroom. You need all these things happening, and Texas really did do a good job of trying to move some of these forward of that in this session. So it was a great time and I guess maybe I should say it's a momentous time, because Texas has not been able to introduce some of these deals in decades and decades and now they have become law like this, this bill that Mayes Middleton introduced and got passed.

Rick Green:

Chaplains in public schools is a very bold move, honestly, because you know, it really strikes at the heart of the whole separation, church and state lie and how we just basically kick God and anything associated to God out of, out of the public schools. And so this is a very bold way of saying, hey, we want God back in schools, we want people of faith to be able to be there for these kids and talk to them about things and basically bring truth back into the school. So this is a really interesting concept. Yes, so I don't know that I guess no other state's done this, but but so how did this come about? You guys know much about, you know what's the whole idea of putting chaplains into public schools and is there a history for that and and what's the argument for being able to do that?

David Barton:

Yeah, you know, actually, the argument is really simple. If you think about wherever you have chaplains today, think about chaplains. We have chaplains for businesses, we have chaplains for hospitals, we have chaplains for military, for hospice, for law enforcement we have we have chaplains. Legislatures Universities, have them, police. All all these places have chaplains and that's a way of saying it's okay to have religion in these areas. Now what has happened? That has been something you couldn't do in schools. Schools is now it's kind of a religion-free zone. You can't have, you can't have faith there. So what's happened is now the schools are being treated with the same Constitutional standards that everybody else has, and this is one of things we've talked about for a while. Why is it that if you're below 18 years old, you have less protection for your first amendment rights than anybody over 18? It's the same question we asked for years why, if you're less than 18, do you have less second amendment rights than anybody over 18? Where in the Constitution does age become the determination for whether you have inalienable rights? And that's been the progressive idea is only certain groups get certain rights. But this is this is coming back into mainstream America, and this gives you an opportunity to not only have students pray, which we saw with the Kennedy decision and football games, etc. This now allows adults to pray with students or to counsel with students in religious areas, and that's what's been so hard for the last 40 to 50 years. Oh no, you're an adult, that's an authority, you're gonna cram religion down the throats of these vulnerable kids and you can't do that. But here you have Chaplains coming in and serving that role as a spiritual counselor for kids who want that or want to partake of the service. You have the opportunity now to have adult and and kid discussions on faith, and that's something we hadn't been able to do in recent decades. So this is just one of the many more things where that we're starting to retake ground that we had for the first couple centuries, that we lost over the last several decades. And in that concept, when people hear this today, you ought to think about hey, can I do this at my school? Can I get my school board to go along with this? It doesn't take a state law to be able to do this. The school board can do it. Now, Mayes did this as a state law and he did a great job because he said this is the requirement every school district in Texas has to vote on whether you're going to have a chaplain or not. That's great! That puts a school district on record, if you don't want a chaplain then their parents need to know about that. If you think that religion is so bad that you don't want kids to even hear about it. Parents need to know about that and get a new school board. So part of this, as he's given a great political tool for getting the schools back in the hands of the parents, but at the same time, you don't have to have the state law to be able to have chaplains in your schools. So as you hear this today, you think this is a great idea, man, go back and get it started in your community, get started in your school, get a started to wherever, because this is a Constitutional way to be able to restore the acknowledgement of God in a very public venue.

Rick Green:

Alright, we can take a quick break. Senator Mayes Middleton, our special guest today. We're talking about chaplains in public schools in Texas. Stay with us. You're listening to the

David Barton:

This is David Barton with another moment from America's history, Federal courts have made several amazing rulings, recently ordering the removal of a cross from cemetery, banning religious holiday displays, removing the Ten Commandments from public view, prohibiting student prayers, whether verbal or silent, and numerous other similar restrictive rulings. As one current justice has noted, the Supreme Court has now become "a national board of theology. Our founding fathers would be astounded. They designed the First Amendment to keep the federal courts completely out of this issue. As Thomas Jefferson forcefully declared, "I consider the federal government as prohibited by the Constitution from meddling with religious exercises." The First Amendment was designed to keep decisions on religious expression out of the federal courts and in the hands of the local communities. For more information on God's hand in American history, contact Wall Builders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.

Rick Green:

Welcome back to Wall Builders. Thanks for staying with us. We've got Senator Mayes Middleton with us from Texas. Hey Senator, how are you doing man? Thanks for coming on. Wall Builders.

Mayes Middleton:

Hey, thank you all for having me on today.

Rick Green:

Well, thanks for doing good legislation. A lot of people feel like, oh, there's nothing good happening. So we at Wall Builders like to highlight a lot of these good things and we see chaplains in schools as a very positive thing. Thankfully, the lemon test's gone and we can start to get some religious liberty in our country again. But you passed this bill in Texas and now schools are starting to.. I guess they've got to vote to decide whether or not they want to participate in this but kind of walk us through this whole thing, how'd you get the idea? What was it like trying to get this passed in the legislature? And then let's talk implementations. Well, a lot to cover. Let's back up to how it all started.

Mayes Middleton:

Well, so our schools are not God- free zones, you know, and unfortunately the left won many years ago when they got the Supreme Court to legislate from the bench and unfortunately rule on the side of the atheists, which that's when prayer was taken out of public schools, when they took the Ten Commandments down. But fortunately, a couple of years ago, with the Coach Kennedy case and then also Carson V Makin, we were able to right that wrong and the Supreme Court said look, at the end of the day, the establishment clause must be interpreted by reference to historical practices and understandings, and what that means is that we are going to support free exercise. And that was the challenge before, as we had a bunch of liberal judges that were repeating the fake doctrine of separation of church and state. That's nowhere in the Constitution, it's not real. So what happened is our US Supreme Court, thanks to President Trump's appointments, made it possible for us to go win some of these fights and put God back in government so people can freely exercise their religious beliefs in government and in schools.

Rick Green:

Yeah, it's such a big change too, right? I mean, for so long we were on the defense, trying to be able to exercise freedom of religion and, like you said, you had all these courts that were just parroting these, frankly, lies, I mean complete distortions of our history. And now all of a sudden that's flipped and we get to go on offense and say, because of the Kennedy case, the laws on our side, like we had Kelly Shackleford on last week just talking about the fact that we got people have to know this. It's like the cell doors been opened, it's unlocked, but you got to walk out and you got to live this freedom and through the legislature, given schools a chance to go back to a time where, like you said, it's not a God-free zone and you have people on campus that can help kids dealing with difficult situations, and who better to do that than a chaplain that can, speak to the issue and give, you know, Godly wisdom to them and how to deal with it.

Mayes Middleton:

Exactly, and this is putting God back in government, and it's a choice, the students don't have to see the chaplains, but this is an additional tool that's available to our students that they did not have before, and other states are looking to copy this and implement chaplains in public schools as well. I mean, you look where it's worked. It's been in law enforcement for many years. Police, fire departments have had chaplains, our military, armed services, hospitals, and for the same reason that it's worked so well with law enforcement and our armed services, I believe it worked equally as well in our public schools as well, because this allows students, faculty, staff, to freely exercise their religion and have this tool available. Someone to talk to from a Godly perspective, because chaplains represent God in government. That's what they do and that's what we need more of in this country and thankfully, because of the Coach Kennedy case, we're able to do that without any legal challenges. Of course, these atheist groups out of Washington DC oppose chaplains in schools, but their legal arguments are now totally meritless and they won't win if they try.

Rick Green:

That's right, that's right. And in addition to them, you also have a lot of these folks or essentially the establishment within the education system that has been trained for the last 50 years to believe in all the separation of state stuff, and so their knee jerk reaction to this is negative often, especially at these bigger schools, and so a lot of them are pushing back on this. What's the best way to change that perspective and show them why this is such a positive thing for their students?

Mayes Middleton:

So number one we need school districts to vote their way into it right. So as part of the legislation, I required every ISD in the state of Texas to take a record vote whether or not to allow chaplains. So that's number one, advocating for that record vote that they vote yes to allow chaplains. But then number two once they do vote yes, we need faith-based members of the community and there are various chaplain accrediting organizations, too, that are out there that are organized. T hat have a way to work with school districts to implement policies where they can have volunteer chaplains. And the media is all out to get this. The Galveston Daily News is my local newspaper. They said chaplains were a terrible and un-American idea how about that. I mean, that is our mainstream media, this Is what they're saying about chaplains.

Rick Green:

Wow, yeah, yeah, talk to any military member that's had a chaplain that they've been able to go to and just go right down the list. I guess, in the way you did the legislation, they're kind of in that voting season now. Right, they've got to do it by March, is it?

Mayes Middleton:

Yeah, it's coming up really soon, and look, we take record votes in the legislature and school boards should as well. Sadly, some of the districts have listened to some of these atheist organizations out of state Washington DC organizations. I know one district that's very close by that actually voted to ban chaplains. Which wow, honestly, that's probably a larger risk for litigation because in that case you're prohibiting, for example, a teacher or admin or somebody at the district from seeing someone based solely on their religious beliefs. Yeah, and that is a serious religious liberties issue. So a lot of these groups and we think TASB is involved that's a taxpayer-funded lobby organization Texas Association of School Boards to try to push districts the direction of not allowing this, which is not surprising because I'll give you an example of TASB this session. So we had a different bill that said if a child has been groomed or sexually abused in a public school by a public school employee, then that child gets school choice, whether it's another public school or private school. They lobbied against it. In other words, they used parents' tax dollars to lobby to trap a child in that situation that they're being abused in. And that's what kind of thing that TASB stands for.

Rick Green:

I'm just thinking, Mayes, this is like, we said for years at the congressional or state level, if you look at a person's vote on the life issue, it'll tell you pretty much, 90% accuracy on every other issue, because if they won't protect your life, they're not going to protect your wallet or your property or any of those things. And that just holds true w hen you look at any voter guide, this could be, this could be that issue for folks trying to figure out who do I vote for for school board? You know, because if they, if they're on record as saying we don't want God in our schools, we don't want a chaplain in our schools, I mean that's like a clarion call. That is probably somebody you need to get out of the leadership of your school district. So I love this man. This could really help. A lot of people want to turn the schools around and and fix this horrific situation where we've been teaching our kids to hate themselves and hate our country and all that. I think you've created something here that could be a turning point in the education system. So hats off to you, man. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Mayes Middleton:

Hey, I appreciate your help and support on this. You know you've got to ask and this came up, when we were debating to build a session too, because I had one that was related that would have created a period of prayer during school hours and you've got to ask the question are our schools better or worse off since prayer was taken out of our public schools in the 1960s? And the answer is worse off.

Rick Green:

No doubt man, no doubt you know. I remember David Barton doing oh gosh, it's been 30 years almost when he did his book American to Pray, or not to Pray, and he charted all the cultural indicators since we took prayer out in 62 with Engle V. Vital and everything you wanted to go up was going down. Everything you wanted to go down was going up. I mean, it was just like he said as a stats and math guy. People think of Barton as a history guy, but he was a math guy back then he said that's just statistically impossible. So it really you're exactly right, it's gone nowhere but downhill since we took God out of schools and rejected Him, and that's to be expected. And we've got an opportunity here, to get some good principles back in there before I let you go. Do you know what's up next for you? What are your big goals for this next session?

Mayes Middleton:

Well, so the number one thing we've got to get done that was left undone at the end of this special session that ended in November is school choice for every child. We need to empower every parent in this state decide which type of education is best for their child, because the final say in the child's education should be their parent and not government. And that's what school choice is. It's just trusting moms and dads in every community to decide what's best and allowing parents to exercise their God given rights to choose what's best for their child. So that is a number one undone issue in the state legislature is getting school choice done for every child.

Rick Green:

And it's worked everywhere it has been implemented. The free marketing, competition always improves the product and the price and everything else. It's huge. You don't know this about me, but that's why I ran and served in the legislature 25 years ago. That was my number one issue in 1998. And so here we are, all these years later, you guys are so far ahead of where we were back then and our prayers are with you, man, and I'm just that that has got to happen If we're going to have any chance of being able to make the system better. You got to have competition and, like you said, put the parents in charge. I mean this whole idea of some bureaucrat in Austin or in Washington or at the school district knows better than you do how to raise your kids, it's just insane and we've got to get back to putting the decisions in the right hands.

Mayes Middleton:

So that's right. That's right. I appreciate it.

Rick Green:

Thanks for coming on, that's Senator Mays Middleton. Stay with us folks. We'll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

Tim Barton:

Hi friends! This is Tim Barton of Wall Builders. This is a time when most Americans don't know much about American history or even Heroes of the faith, and I know oftentimes for parents we're trying to find good content for our kids to read and if you remember, back to the Bible, the book of Hebrews, it has the faith hall of fame where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that, as Americans, we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes, not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well. I want to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called the Courageous Leaders Collection, and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright Brothers, and there's a second collection called Heroes of History, and this collection you'll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, friends the list goes on and on. This is a great collection for your young person to have and read and it's a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at wallbuilders. com. That's www. wallbuilders. com.

Rick Green:

We're back here on WallBuilders. Thanks for staying with us, thanks to Senator Mayes Middleton for joining us and for passing a great piece of legislation back with David and Tim and I love this, guys. I love the fact that it's going to put these school boards, like you said at the beginning, David, I'm going to give you a chance to really see where your school board stands.

David Barton:

Yeah, and this is really significant because, kind of putting some context on what's happened. You know, Mayes mentioned that you're having these kind of editorial things where, hey, this should be a religion free arena, this should be a God free kind of zone, and that's what some of the papers are saying down in his area and he's the one coastal Texas, down in Brazoria and Galveston, et cetera, and so you've got this mentality, you can't have God in it. But it goes back to what he mentioned when the courts took this out. And what the courts did was they came up with what for a long time, we called it the decenters veto. And this is because the courts, instead of looking at individuals to say you know what, every single individual in America has God given inalienable rights. The courts in the 60s, 70s, 80s said now, which group gets the rights? Well, you know, atheists. They're a smaller group than Christians, so they need more rights than Christians have. So we'll let atheists veto whether Christians can have public religious expression. And it became known as the decenter's veto. If an atheist said, hey, I'm really offended over prayer, the courts said, oh, we'll make everybody stop praying publicly so that you won't be offended. And so, rather than treating individuals as individuals with God given rights, the court started recognizing groups, and that's a very progressive approach and that's not a Constitutional approach. And they said groups of atheists have more value and have more rights than groups of Christians or Jews or anybody else. And so this is part of that rollback, getting back to individuals and the inalienable rights. And it's a great way to do it putting chaplains in schools and letting kids consult those chaplains that they want to.

Tim Barton:

Well, guys, I think it's worth noting too, as he pointed out, if you look at what's happened to the educational system, to our schools, since we took God out, since we took prayer out, has it gotten better or gotten worse? Rick, you alluded to it that you know, dad, your book years ago America to Pray or Not to Pray you were walking through the data, the statistics that were not lying. Most people remember, if you go back to the 50s or 60s. When I say remember, I don't mean remember that we were all there, but we remember hearing about right, what were the major issues when it came to schools? If teachers said, here are the major problems we have in schools back in the 50s and 60s, what were they? It was talking in class and chewing gum in the hallway. Those were the major issues. Go forward to the 70s and 80s, once the Supreme Court has gotten involved and liberals and progressives have really had their way. Progressives have had their way in education and they've removed God and the Bible in prayer from schools. What are the major problems in public schools in the 70s and 80s? Murder, violent crime, teen pregnancy. You start going through this list, it's mind boggling how far we fell, how quickly and largely the number one indicator you can point to, the number one thing that changed, we didn't introduce a new philosophy. There wasn't a new pedagogy. The number one thing that changed in public schools was the removal of God, the removal of a God consciousness, the removal of morality. So now, even having chaplain's coming back, this is something that if you can restore on any semblance of this religion and morality foundation, if you can restore the foundation, it gives the opportunity for these kids to be able to live such a better life. The Bible tells us that in life you have a couple of options of where you build. You can build on the rock or you can build on the sand. And we're seeing all of the challenges, all the problems these kids are having because they're on the right foundation. An even bigger picture, all of these kids are going to be the future of our nation and the founding fathers were very clear that with that religion and morality America will not stand, it won't survive. We have to have a religious and moral foundation to be able to function as a nation under this Constitutional Republic for freedom to work, we have to have a religious, moral people for these kids' lives to actually work the way that God intended, and even logically, if you're someone who doesn't believe in God. But you want there to be stability, you don't want them to be depressed, you want them to be able to live in a hope, in happiness, in joy, and have fulfillment in their life. God needs to be the foundation. Having chaplains come back is a really good step in the right direction.

David Barton:

Let me point out Proverbs 21:22 says that a wise man attacks the city of the mighty. What we need to do is go on the offense, and what you've got here is an opportunity at your school to go on the offense. It doesn't matter whether you're in Texas or not. This law stands up everywhere because it's simply Constitutional. Doesn't matter what your State Constitution says, you have a First Amendment guaranteed right of free-exercise of religion. This is a good thing for everybody to take on in their own community. Let's become God conscious, as Tim was just saying. When you're God conscious, your behavior is different than when you're not God conscious. This is a really good thing to have in schools and other public venues. Everybody go on the offense with this and let's move this into schools all over the nation. It doesn't take the Texas law. You can do this simply because it's Constitutional.

Rick Green:

Yeah, I love the going on offense. We need to do that more and more. What a great opportunity. Again, this is what the Coach Kennedy case.. T This is why it was such a big victory. It opens the door. David, you just made a huge point. It's not just in Texas where this bill has been passed. There's opportunities all over the country. We had Kelly Shackleford on last week talking about this religious freedom in America and that website and all those things. We'll put that link again today. Get involved folks, be a part of moving forward with offense, not just staying on defense. What a great show today. Special thanks to Senator Mayes Middleton for joining us. Thank you for listening. We've been listening to The WallBuilders Show.

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