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Friday, November 23, 2012

The President Asks Americans to Engage in Religious Activity

As I continue my series on education, I am mindful of followers of Christ who teach in state schools. Eric Buehrer (who graduated from the same high school I did) is president of an organization I respect and recommend, called Gateways To Better Education. His organization focuses on helping state school teachers to understand the full legal freedom they have to teach about the influence of Christianity in our history [yes, some states require it!], to educate students about biblical themes in great literature, etc., and to take advantage of teachable moments that afford fitting opportunities to bring up "religious" subjects for class discussion.

One such teachable moment occurred this week when our President issued the annual Thanksgiving Proclamation to the nation. Eric highlighted this in an e-mail I received from him on Wednesday, and I asked Eric if I could pass his comments on to my readers. Thank you, Eric, for permission to do so! Keep up the great work.       

The President asks Americans to Engage in Religious Activity

Yesterday, the President issued his annual Thanksgiving Proclamation calling the nation to thank God for His blessings. No matter what our politics may be, it is important that we highlight the Proclamation to our children and our students as an example of our nation's recognition of being "one nation under God."

The president begins by explaining that it is about "recounting the joys and blessings of the past year." This is an important statement because the majority of people (including teachers) mistakenly think that Thanksgiving is a nostalgic remembrance of the Pilgrims of long ago.

The President explains, "This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives." 

In his second paragraph, the President gives a brief overview of its history. He also highlights George Washington's prayer "to our Creator" as well as Lincoln's proclamation.

In his fourth paragraph, the President calls upon the nation to "spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence."

I recommend you print out the proclamation and read it to your family. It is important that we not only remind ourselves what God has done for us individually, but that we live in a country that officially does this as well. It is part of being "one nation under God."

If you are a teacher, you can incorporate the President's proclamation in a post-Thanksgiving class discussion. Ask students specifically what they did for Thanksgiving Day. Then, ask them if they did what the President asked them to do. When they reply that they were not aware that the President asked them to do anything, give them a copy of his proclamation, read it aloud, and discuss it. This is a teachable moment -- a time to discuss a few of the following topics:

  1. What it means to be "one nation under God."
  2. The Bill of Rights and freedom of religious expression
  3. America's Judeo-Christian heritage
  4. The often-misunderstood phrase "separation of church and state"
  5. What it means to end the proclamation "in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve" (our calendar dating)

Download the President's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Yours for Creating a Better Future for Our Children,
Eric Buehrer