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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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Question of the Week: 3 - 8/20/2000

Church and State, Religion in School... What is YOUR View?

Church and State, Religion in School... What is YOUR View?

 Reponses:   There are 122 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I Personally Don't Have A Problem With Religion In School. I Have... Aug 22nd. at 9:59:55 am EDT

khepher (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 23 - Email

I personally don't have a problem with religion in school. I have considered myself pagan since I was a teenager, when I was attending a Catholic school. This school was run by an order of Frasiscan priests and brothers (and a couple sisters too but I don't know how they fit into the picture).

Believe it or not I was openly country dweller'ish with a few of the priests and they we're accepting of it. Granted they may have looking at me like I was just rebelling or that I would find the "true path" someday, but it did encourage further exploration of alternative ways. Anyway, this may have made my view of religion in school a bit biased, I did attend public school for a few years also though.

Religion in school for the most part is not about religion, its about liability (money) and votes. IMHO things like open group prayer and the pledge of allegiance were banned from schools because school boards and legislatures were worried about potential lawsuits and legal stuff (my boy/girl heard your mention of god, started asking me difficult questions, now give me 10 million dollars). IMHO the subject is coming up now just so conservative politicians can win votes in the ever so important bible-belt...

This does not mean that I think any religion should be crammed down people throats. Please, the insanity of the 1200-1300's (hey and even the 1950's) is long behind us now, thankfully. Sometimes it just seems like a few too many things are banned and forbidden and taboo and blah, blah, blah....

One great thing they did at my high school was in our religion class, once a week for a while they would bring in a person from a different faith to speak with us about thier beliefs, lets see, I can remember being visited by Muslims, a few Rabbi's, a Luthern minister(???), Buddhist monks, even a Hindu swami. The closest they came to having a pagan speaker was a Native American medicine person. Very interesting stuff for a young impressionable teenager, especially one attending a catholic school.

Thank for this forum, great topic of discussion

I Have Found That The Fastest Way To Disarm The Misconception That... Aug 22nd. at 11:19:47 am EDT

Daven (Nashville, Tennessee US) Age: 32 - Email

I have found that the fastest way to disarm the misconception that comes with being Wiccan in a Public School is to be open about the beliefs. Yes, I think that Church and State should be separate, and that there is no place for the Gods in our educational matrix, but I also acknowledge that the students going to school will not have the luxury of being able to leave something they believe "at the door".

Instead, we as pagan parents, MUST become involved in the educational process with the teachers, the school officials, and the School board. My wife and I had great success in this last year at my daughter's school. Both my wife and I are out of the Broom Closet, and we are trying to teach our daughter not to be ashamed of her faith. In this we were very active in our daughter's after school and during school activities, to the point where when my wife was not doing work with my grandfather, she was volunteering at my daughter's second grade class, and I was doing some computer maintenance for the school, on a volunteer basis.

We wore our pentagrams openly, and explained to the teachers and school staff just who we are and what we believe. Since we took the time out to do this, and the majority of the parents didn't even make an attempt to get to the child's recitals and such, we made an impression on the entire school staff.

As a result of this, my daughter is not harassed by the staff at all when she wears some of her symbols, such as pentagram earrings, or a crescent moon necklace, nor for saying such things as "The Goddess loves you, " or "So be it." instead of Amen.

It's an interesting side effect of our volunteer work there. We went to the school, trying to relieve some of the burden on the overworked staff, and not to wave the "Pagan Banner" in front of the Christian Right. We simply wanted to help. And that attitude made a considerable difference.

I guess it boils down to doing what we are supposed to be doing in the first place. When we live our lives in the way our morality states, and the way the Gods wish us to live, and tolerate others, our example (once they know we are Wiccans) tends to burn away centuries of hate and anger and fear in the minds of those who are being interacted with. And they spread it some to others too.

I am not so sanguine as to imagine that the children won't pick on and make fun of my daughter because she's a "witch", but hopefully, the teachers knowing what we believe will take a hand in it to stop it before it gets too far our of hand. Unlike some stories I have heard and read about.

Morality Should Be Taught At Home In The Family, Not At School... Aug 22nd. at 12:26:35 pm EDT

Darke (Carbondale, Illinois US) Age: 23 - Email

Morality should be taught at home in the family, not at school. But if you're going to allow religion, allow them all equal time and equal access.

I For One Believe That Church And State Should Be Forever Completly... Aug 22nd. at 1:17:06 pm EDT

Leroy Hilyer (Layton , Utah US) Age: 21 - Email

I for one believe that Church and State should be forever completly seperate, however I don't believe in denying anyone the right to practice thier religion. My stand on the whole Religion in schools debate is that children have a right to practice thier religion publicly or privately as long as that practice doesn't infringe on the rights of another person. I feel that the administration and facalties of schools should allow the opertunity for children to learn the facts and histories of many different religions yet not be taught or forced to practice them. I feel that religion should not be left at the doorstep! I do however feel that the schoolyards should be multi-faith areas where only the practitionars make decisions on what they practice. The teaching of a faith is the job of a parent, and only to their own children. Overall I feel that this is a very hard path to take, and that the brunt of this battle will fall on the teachers, but I still hope that the outcome is fair to all involved.

In The Late 80's/early 90's When I Was In... Aug 22nd. at 1:17:46 pm EDT

SilverCat (Boston, Massachusetts US) Age: 25 - Email

In the late 80's/early 90's when I was in high school, there was a fundamentalist Christian group in our high school who tormented students who were not Christian, calling them horrendous names, spitting phlegm onto the handles of their lockers, pushing them in the halls, etc.. typical kid stuff to a point, but when parents of the tortured kids came into complain, and then the group's parents came in to defend their kids, nothing was done. The situation continued. Of course, if that had been any other religious group, it would have been broken up immediately, and punishment would have been handed out to all involved.

Religion is just another thing that emphasizes how different kids are, and many of these kids who believe they should be "saving" the world are encouraged to batter their classmates. I think the religious leaders of these organizations should realize how poorly it reflects on their churches as a whole.

In a large urban setting like Boston, there's an advantage--so many nationalities and belief systems are present that it becomes impossible to enforce a religion within a school. But in many communities, particularly in the south and the midwest, where religion is strongly emphasized, it's impossible to escape. It is these communities why religion must not be enforced in a school. If a community feels that religion *should* be introduced in school--allow it as an optional class at the junior high/high school level. Break it up throughout the day so that not everyone is there at the same time, and allow it as an option to a study hall or something. But a school-wide prayer is NOT acceptable!

Also, parents need to find some way to get involved in school happenings in a way that shows that they are just other members of the community. Help with an open heart and hand, and SHOW that we are good people, rather than just pitching a fit. School systems are hurting for assistance these days---they will not bite a hand that feeds them if it's done warmly. Even if it's just to help sell 50/50 tickets at a football game---these actions help the school, and help win your family respect in your town.

Hummmm, Uhhh, The Seperation Of Church And State. In Theory It Is... Aug 22nd. at 1:44:35 pm EDT

Silver MayKitten (Springfield, Missouri US) Age: 55 - Email

Hummmm, uhhh, The seperation of church and state.

In theory it is a nice theory, but it just is not practical as long as people are people and religion is a part of life even for those who feal they have no religion. People will have their own beliefs and naturally will want to express them.

I live a stones throw from an elementery school, which some real estate people will tell you is a blessing (however my windows are also a baseball's bat, a basketball's goal attempt and a volly ball's volly away from the playground.) And I am a similar distance from my covensted. The proximity of the two makes for interesting experiances.

For one thing you never will believe again in childhood innocence when your kitchen window is just behind home plate, even first grade kids get a little wild in their speech. But when most of the kids on the schoolground are misAssembly of (THE_ONE_AND_ONLY_REAL)_GOD_ and the few kids that are B'Hai, Moslem, Catholic, Budhist, Baptist, and Pagan are a distinct minority . . .
well the fur flies. And on one occasion a teacher ran over our crone's cat on purpose, and braged about it to the other teachers, in my earshot! The principal ordered her to appologise to Amber, but she never did.

My belief is that religion has a place in education, religion has an obvious place in the study of history, astrology, biorhythms and numeroligy can be studied as part of math or science, How the facts of Magick differ from the views of magic life as in Harry Potter, or The Worst Witch has a place in the study of literature. I think you can think of other links between what is studied in school and what of religion should be taught.

Religion and education are inseperable so lets at least get them togather in a way that works positively.

A Few Well-known Politicians Have Been Been Campaigning For "character Building" In... Aug 22nd. at 2:00:04 pm EDT

Keira (Akron, Ohio US) Age: 20 - Email

A few well-known politicians have been been campaigning for "character building" in our schools. As a future pagan teacher, I agree with that. However, putting the ten commandments on the walls isn't going to do the trick. Teachers, parents, and administration working with students is what is going to work. We can teach "good character" to our students through good example and caring. Why try to force a religion on students when we can teach the basic tenants of being a good person that is acceptable to any religion? I think that politicians are making this way too difficult when it really very simple.

I Really Honestly Do Not Have A Difficulty With The Voucher System... Aug 22nd. at 2:32:28 pm EDT

Catherine M. Wagner (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 31

I really honestly do not have a difficulty with the voucher system -IF (and ONLY IF) it is administrated fairly. If a religious group chooses not to start its own school, that is not enough reason to disagree with the system. However, if the system is written in such a way that only one religions schools are covered by it, then yes, I would disagree firmly.

As for the separation, if there is a growing number of people who would like to see religion taught in schools - again, my only insistence is either ALL or NONE. If you are going to teach the precepts of one religion, you must teach (in a fair and open-minded manner) the precepts of ALL religions. If you are not willing to do so, or are not capable of doing so, then you must teach none.

I'm A British Hedgewitch, Who Like Most British People Went To A... Aug 22nd. at 3:29:25 pm EDT

Jenny Kiernan (Shropshire, England UK) Age: 24

I'm a British Hedgewitch, who like most British people went to a comprhensive school. As Britain is still officially a Christian country morning prayers and hymns in assembly were carried out every day.
I would try to avoid these as I have never been a Christian, though the rules were that unless you were of a recognised non-Christian faith (such as Hindu or Muslim) you still had to sit through the prayers.
Most kids followed the prayers blindly, but only a very small minority paid very much attention. For myself I feel that pushing religion on children in this way is a waste of educators' time, especially in a country where church attendances are falling and most adults may consider themselves Christian, but only go to Church once a year at most.

However, schools in this country have learnt over the years to be tolerant of other faiths and some incorporate their prayers into morning prayers as well.

I Am A Student At My Local Highschool. I Would Like To... Aug 22nd. at 6:35:29 pm EDT

Kathleen (Windsor, Ontario CA) Age: 17 - Email

I am a student at my local highschool. I would like to share with you an experience while at my elementary school when I was younger. Every morning after the bell rang, we would all stand up for the national anthem (I live in Canada). After the anthem, we would sit down and stay quiet for the next few mintues. During this time, we would have different readings. Usually a quote or thought for the day. Sometimes they mentioned God or Lord but for the most part, they were not religious in nature. Then, they would wish us happy holidays if it was that time.

But they didn't only focus on Christian Holidays, they might say, "You may notice that some of your classmates are missing today, that's because all our Jewish Friends here are at home celebrated Rosh Hashana with their families." or "Happy Chinese New Year! Wish a happy day to all our Chinese friends." or even. "Well, this is our last day for the winter holidays, Happy Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice!" It was wonderful. Our teachers would let us teach the class about any holidays we may be celebrating at home. I taught my class about Hanuka as we celebrate it at home because my Dad is Jewish.

Now that I am in High School. Mornings are boring. We stand for O Canada, sit down and listen to the announcements for the day. What meetings are today, whats for sale in the Cafeteria today and what teacher is having a birthday today. Fun but not like in elementary school.

I enjoyed learning about different religions and cultures in school. There were no kids in my neighbourhood so without school, I would never have met other children. At school, I met other children who came from China, Japan, Algeria, Egypt, Spain, France, Brazil, Guatemala and Australia. I learned about Kwanzaa, Columbas day, Cinco de Mayo and more. I taught Hanukah, Passover, Christmas and more.

If you haven't got my drift here yet, I believe religion does belong in schools, to a degree. I do not believe that the 10 Commandments belong in schools. If you follow them, you should know them, and therefore don't need them posted. If they post the 10 commandments, they should post the Wiccan Rede and the rules the Muslims follow. If they want to say "Jesus Loves You", then they need to also say, "The Goddess is Alive, " and "I Made it to Nirvana." I taught other about the religion and culture I was raised in, but they taught me about theirs. Noone every told another that they were stupid for believing differently. We enjoyed hearing about why they thought something or why they believed another. Sure, Religion can be in School, but ALL Religions.

As for Church and State, or in my case, Church and Province (LOL), they don't really mix. I don't believe I can make a proper statement on Church and State at the age of 17, but I have contributed what I think about religion in School.

Much To The Dismay Of The Far Christial Right, The Founders Of... Aug 22nd. at 7:57:15 pm EDT

Mary Wilson (Cartersville, Georgia US) Age: 35 - Email

Much to the dismay of the far Christial right, the founders of this country were not necessarily Christians, they were Deists. Even Pagans can be considered Deists, the belief in a diety (or in many cases dieties). But you would never hear the far right admit to this fact. I've a feeling if the founders of this country were to see what one very active group was doing, they would be flabbergasted. I can see ole Ben with his jaw on the floor. They founded a country based on freedom, certain freedoms they did not have in their ancenstral homelands, including the freedom to choose their own religion. Even the puritains came to this country to have freedom to practice their own religion.

The constitution provides for the separation of church and state. Who are we to undo what works in a civic secular society. If it keeps up at the direction we are going, then I fear this country will become the very thing our founders escaped from.

What's Wrong With A Few Moments Of Quiet? Whether It Be For... Aug 22nd. at 8:04:44 pm EDT

Kendra Neece (Detroit, Michigan US) Age: 26 - Email

What's wrong with a few moments of quiet?

Whether it be for prayer , meditation, gathering yourself, or which ever you choose to do in your religion.I don't mean that they need to have someone to guide them and put down rules of what you should do in your moment of silence, but these few moments can mean alot to someone who needs it.School and other students can be very distracting, those few minutes can help students and teachers alike to gather your senses at the begining of a very long nerve wracking day.

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