Monday, February 15, 2010

Keepin' the faith... separate!

If you spend any time on any of the social networks such as Facebook, you've surely seen sites where friends try to enlist you in one cause or another... try this one on for size.

"Allow God in School..." The site proclaims to spout 1,633,659 members. Impressive, huh?

Not by a long shot. Not unless you want to equate numbers with might--might makes right--which smacks of bullying to me. So I ask this question: If faced with the question, do I (or do you?) want your public schools teaching your children religion? My answer is quick, easy, simple and direct!

Nope.

Go to church instead; pray in your own homes where your faith is a private matter between you and your creator, but do not inflict it on myself or students who may not share your beliefs.

On the Facebook site, two of my former high school students agreed in the affirmative, thinking our schools need God. For people arguing that school prayer is desirable, my initial response would be, there is prayer everyday in school as is. Just ask students if they pray before taking a test.

All kidding aside, if I were still teaching and my school administrators had instructed me to involve religion in my classroom, honestly I would find myself with a very easy choice. I quit. You see, I object to the notion that a meticulous pursuit of faith equates morality; we've all seen plenty of examples that illustrate just the opposite.

Our founding fathers wrote Separation of Church and State clauses into this nation's Constitution for a reason.

After telling one of the students this, she said that 'your [sic] allowed to have your thoughts......as for my children they will grow up with God.'

Of course they would--and for many that would be a good thing, but children would have the right to pursue this whether it happens in school or not--after all, it is my contention that in all matters of religious faith are best left to parents--and the child.

As is, parents already complain they don't want schools teaching their children about sex; about starting and raising their own families; about sexuality; so why add another element that has not one little thing to do with learning how to read, write, add / subtract / multiply, learn business, etc?

To further my argument, if you go into any Catholic Church, an Episcopalian church, a Baptist church, a Methodist church, a Lutheran church, a Jewish temple or a Islamic mosque and you are going to find a different explanation of their faith in each of these churches. I would venture even further that no two ministers of even the same faith are going to preach the word of God in the same fashion, conviction or belief.

Teachers today already are counselors, coaches, babysitters (sadly all too often this is true), sometimes a friend, sometimes grief counselor, sometimes mediator, sometimes administrator, and to add more on to their job title is just not practical, desired or possible. Are you asking a school take the time to explain the faith of each church to every child?

Furthermore, churches themselves don't even agree on what story of God is correct, so why expect schools to insert their own stamp? Next, for those who have worked tirelessly to secure a moment for daily school-led prayer, are the rest of us to seriously believe that you would stop there? Next, creationism will be taught; next, biology and physical science classes will be compromised; next, health classes will be compromised; and next, English classes will include the Bible as a textbook.

I offer this warning: If this door is opened, every single faith will be wanting their say. Do you want a school teaching things in matters of religion you do not agree with? I know those same people who feel school prayer is a good thing would be horrified if their child would be forced to sit through a Muslim prayer... and there are some really kooky churches out there that who will also be standing in line for their turn at your child's young mind.

Teachers are not preachers, they are not theologians, nor are they Bible thumpers... or least they'd best not be. Personally, faith is not something you can teach anyway; it is something you feel.

I do not mean to sound antagonistic towards those people of faith. As I read of more and more religious folks lashing out in anger saying their rights are being trampled on, I wonder where we have gone so wrong to feel that we have the right to demand 'my' time, 'my' faith,' my beliefs are more important, more correct and they trump yours or mine.

The cynic in me would respond by saying, 'oh boo hoo hoo hoo, you poor dears.' When did we become such a nation of cry babies?

Simply, these folks fail to see the irony of their cries... that if given their way, if they examined their desires so intently they would find themselves guilty of the same actions as those decried as sinners and heathens. The best, and most measured response is 'grow up, suck it up, and permit each of us to lead our lives the way we choose. I would have to say to those of religious faith, no one is denying you your right to practice faith, but do so in a manner that does not inflict, insult and demean all involved.

My student continued by saying, "I believe that children should be able to be who they are in school and that includes religion."

I have seen no evidence schools are denying children their right to self-actualization. No school is telling a child they cannot follow their faith. What the arguer really wants is to hand over all control to God instead of thinking for one's self (whether they want to admit it or not). I could paraphrase a recent speaker's chant of 'how's that hopey, changey thing working out for you?' No. Give me some tangible proof, give me something concrete that shows how schools are harming children by not bringing church to the educational table (or desk); or how schools will be improved by this intrusion.

Point is, as is, there is not enough time in the school day to teach what we need to teach.. and with the world's expanding base of new science, new literature, new history, new math concepts, new computer technology, all the things one needs to succeed in life... And if this still does not satisfy the most ardent of religious faith, my best answer would be, please, send your child to a private religious school where your child can pray to his or her heart's content.

Perhaps one answer to this 'dilemma' can easily be solved thusly. When churches are no longer tax-exempt; when churches are required to pay property taxes that contribute to public school funding; and when churches pay for teachers to study theology, then perhaps I (but not likely) would agree it is time for church involvement in our children's every waking moment.

Until then, I can honestly say there is not time enough or reason enough to teach religion, which is why I said that teaching faith is a job best left to parents and their churches.

5 comments:

  1. If people want religion in the schools, then send them to a religious school. Public schools need to stick with the 3-R's.

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  2. I'm with you, Ken. Religious kooks scream, whine, moan, cry fake crocodile tears and complain when they don't get their way (which in my view isn't often enough)... and they stomp their feet like little children and do everything they can to make it look like they're rights are being infringed upon... they say they're tired of things shoved down their throats...

    I find that constant droning sound irritating beyond belief.

    I swear, I don't know why I believe in god, because his followers sure are good at making life a living hell for all too many of us down here.

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  3. 你可以從外表的美來評論一朵花或一隻蝴蝶,但你不能這樣來評論一個人........................................

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  4. Wish I knew what the comments said that are written in an Asian language.

    ReplyDelete