Freedom From Religion Foundation Attacks Mayberry Morality
- By Alliance Defending Freedom
- Posted Jul 25, 2012
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By Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel, Kevin Theriot
On June 28, 2012, a federal appeals court rejected a radical atheist organization’s attempt halt a public school’s program that accommodated parents’ right to provide a religious education for their children. Now the notoriously anti-religious instigator of the lawsuit, Freedom From Religion Foundation, is asking the court to reconsider its ruling. This is just one more example of this group’s attempt to undermine the religion-based morality that has made our country great.
Coincidentally, five days after the court of appeals ruling, the actor Andy Griffith passed away. He is most famous for his role on the 1960s era Andy Griffith Show where he played a small-town sheriff in a little town called Mayberry, North Carolina. The show and its sheriff (Andy Taylor) have become icons of traditional American values. Love, freedom, respect, and faith were all positively portrayed with a great deal of light-hearted comedy. In one episode, a busy big city businessman finds himself in the unfortunate predicament of breaking down in Mayberry on a Sunday. Of course the entire town, including its one mechanic, is at church in the morning, and then spends the rest of the day lounging around the front porch having apple peeling contests and deciding whether it’s worth the effort to get up to get a bottle of pop. By the end of the 30 minute show, the workaholic stranger learns a valuable lesson about the value of God’s great idea to observe a weekly day of rest and worship.
Several years later, and just down the road from fictional Mayberry, the South Carolina General Assembly wisely decided that it would be a good idea to allow students to learn about those same religious values depicted on the Andy Griffith Show. It passed the Released Time Credit Act which allows students to be released from school a few hours a week and receive credit for religious classes they take at off-campus accredited private schools. The legislature rightly concluded “that “[t]he free exercise of religion is important to the intellectual, moral, civic, and ethical development of students in South Carolina.”
Released Time was approved by the Supreme Court 60 years ago in a case called Zorach v. Clauson. The Supreme Court held that Released Time “follows the best of our traditions” by “respect[ing] the religious nature of our people and accommodat[ing] the public service to their spiritual needs.”
It’s a shame that Spartanburg County School District Seven has had to defend their state authorized, and Supreme Court approved Released Time program in court, but it’s not a surprise. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is not a civic organization trying to preserve the Constitution. It is unapologetically anti-religious, recently buying billboards around the country depicting phrases like “Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief,” “Imagine No Religion,” and “Quit the Church.”
Thankfully, it wasn’t successful in this attack on Mayberry Morality, and the First Amendment guarantees it isn’t likely to be successful in its ultimate goal of purging America of the benefits of religious morality. Our Founding Fathers understood that religious freedom is foundational to all other freedoms, and religion itself is absolutely vital to self-government. As George Washington said in his Farewell Address,“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” Getting rid of the religious pillar that upholds our way of life would be shooting ourselves in the foot.
Or, as Andy Taylor used to put it, “getting our britches caught on our own pitch fork.”
Author: Alliance Defending Freedom