Illinois public schools do not offer religious training. Children in art class do not color pictures of Jesus holding a lamb, nor do they start each day with a Bible reading.
That’s just the way it is, now. Adherents to the lesser creeds, i.e., religions other than Protestant Christianity or even — shudder — no religion at all, have a right to attend public school, to learn about spelling and geography and Henry Hudson, without having an alien faith shoved down their throats.
For this, we can thank — or, if you prefer, blame — a Champaign housewife with the incongruous Biblical name of Vashti McCollum, who did not like her son Jim being forced to sit out in the hall while his fifth-grade class at Dr. Howard Elementary School had its weekly Bible study and sued her local Board of Education to make them stop.
The lawsuit went all the way to the United States Supreme Court and began to unravel the grip that Christianity had on supposedly secular public education.
I had never heard of Vashti McCollum until I watched a powerful new documentary film “The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today,” which WTTW Channel 11 is airing, appropriately enough, on Mother’s Day this Sunday.