Court decision ‘an outrage,’ Mohler said on Focus on the Family

Communications Staff — November 23, 2005

A recent decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowing public schools to provide information about sex to elementary school students without parental consent is “an outrage” and demonstrates “what an activist judiciary looks like,” R. Albert Mohler Jr. said on the Focus on the Family radio broadcast Nov. 16.

Mohler, who serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., appeared on the program along with psychologist and author James Dobson and Focus on the Family president and CEO Jim Daly.

The court decision, Fields v. Palmdale School District, holds that parents have “no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on [the subject of sex] to their students in any forum or manner they select.”

Parents filed a lawsuit against the Palmdale School District in Los Angeles after children in the first, third and fifth grades came home from school complaining about having been asked troubling questions regarding sex during a school-administered survey. Among the survey questions were inquiries about whether the children thought about having sex, thought about touching other people’s “private parts” and whether they could “stop thinking about sex.”

The decision, written by Judge Stephen Reinhart, argues, “We hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents ‘to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs’ and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right.”

The decision added, “Once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished.”

Mohler said such language is reminiscent of the educational philosophy in the Soviet Union, where children were viewed as property of the state.

“That is one of the most sweeping claims,” he said. “It reminds me of something that might be said by a totalitarian government. It’s hard for me to imagine that this isn’t coming from China or a bad dream from the Soviet Union.

“We’re basically being told that once our children enter the threshold … of the public schools, they are no longer under parental control and parents have no right to say what they will and will not hear or be taught or, as we know through this survey, be asked once they enter the public schools. It’s an outrage.”

Dobson noted that the Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over nine western states, has a reputation for being among the most liberal courts in the nation. If parents do not take action, liberal courts like the Ninth Circuit could have detrimental effects on children, he said.

“If that [decision] sticks, our children are now in the hands of some very, very evil people,” Dobson said. “And I‘m not talking about the public schools. I‘m talking about these leftist judges that are determined to change this nation in one generation. And we absolutely cannot remain silent about it.”

Dobson added that he supports public education and appreciates all of the Christians working in public schools.

“I believe in public education,” Dobson said. “You have to have it. … But we can’t let the courts supercede the influence of parents there. So we’re not attacking those good people in public schools.”

Fields v. Palmdale School District illustrates why Christians must take action to confront the “out-of control judiciary,” Mohler said.

“I just worry about so many American citizens who think about voting for the president,” he said. “They’ll vote for representatives and senators, but they don’t understand the gravity of the courts. We have an imbalance in our separation of powers right now because these unelected judges are just simply running away with the legislative prerogative.”

Mohler and Dobson agreed that one important action Christians can take to curb the activist judiciary is to urge their senators to support the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I think he is exactly what we’re looking for,” Mohler said. “There’s no question that he is a judicial conservative. And that means that he believes that the Constitution, as it was originally written and understood, sets the terms. And that’s exactly what we need on the court.”

In the end, parents must understand that they have the final responsibility to educate their children in all areas, especially morality and values, Mohler said.

“We have to say to parents, ‘Look, you can’t forfeit your responsibility to teach your own children,’” he said. “’You can’t hand them over to those who would teach them what we know is contrary to God’s Word concerning sexuality and any number of other issues.’ So parents, wherever you are, you have got to take responsibility to train your children.”

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