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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 24,009,331  

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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 Don't Necessarily Feel That Posting The Ten Commandments Is A Bad... Aug 21st. at 3:05:05 am EDT

Neptun (Palm Springs , California US) Age: 25 - Email

I don't necessarily feel that posting the ten commandments is a bad thing. The commandments themselves are not negative in any way, although if they place any other reference to christianity by it, ie. " the ten commandments of jesus christ" to me it would be unacceptable. Yes I would much rather they place the "rede" on the wall instead, but just placing the commandments themselves on the wall would be ok. Now as far as the issue with the Pentacle being worn at school, yes it should be allowed in moderation, what I mean by that is there should be a size restriction. Lets face it if I were in school and I showed up with a five inch diameter pentacle that could be alil distracting.

If Students Wish To Express Their Religious Selves In School, Let Them... Aug 21st. at 5:53:53 am EDT

Adelandaya BirchGrove (DeKalb, Illinois US) Age: 27 - Email

If students wish to express their religious selves in school, let them, as long as they are not disturbing the primary function of a school (teaching children) or forcing their religious beliefs on others. E.g., praying out loud during a math test is inappropriate, as is shouting at others for not being of your particular religious belief.

Teaching about how religion has influenced our country, e.g., in a history class is acceptable. Teaching comparative religion is acceptable in a suitable class.

That's all that should be permitted. Unfortunately, that isn't the way things work out in real life...which is why the ACLU and other civil liberties groups exist.

I Have No Question In My Mind That Freedom Of Religion Must... Aug 21st. at 7:51:23 am EDT

Patricia Telesco (Western, New York US) Age: 40 - Email

I have no question in my mind that freedom of religion must apply to all faiths if it's to have any meaning. It must also mean freedom FROM religion for those who choose not to follow a religious system. IMHO religion is a private matter, not to be mingled with government or school, other than perhaps an equitable examinatino of world beliefs as part of social studies classes.

There is no reason a person cannot pray silently wherever they are -- why does this need to be legislated? To me such laws represent a further intrusion into the private sector slowly taking away our sense of home as a sanctuary.

Similarly, the posting of the 10 commandments won't change our children's unrest anymoreso than posting the wiccan redes or charge of the goddess! That idea is what I call a "comfort action" -- it says "see we did something" but it serves no viable purpose. What will change that is letting them know they're important, they have a voice, and they have a CHOICE in what they're future will be. We need to empower our children at home, not depend on the schools for that.

This is a long winded way of saying our forefathers had an intimate understanding of what happens when church and state don't stay separate. Let's learn from history; not repeat it.

I Think If It Is The Rule Of The School For Religion... Aug 21st. at 8:03:57 am EDT

Mystic Angel (Mount Gambier, South Australia AU) Age: 14 - Email

I think if it is the rule of the school for religion to be left out of grounds, that is fine on the condition it means all religions. I personally dont have a problem with religous symbols being worn in schools if it doesnt affect the learning of the students.

Some parents may argue that a Pentacle is affecting the learning of their child as is colouring your hair blue it may be a distraction and to that I say dont look.

As far as I know most schools in Australia don't have a problem with religous sybols but since I have home schooled since I've started wearing a Pentacle I wouldnt know.


Religion In Schools - Yes Or No? I'm Afraid I Have To Answer... Aug 21st. at 10:21:31 am EDT

Bell of Winnipeg (Winnipeg, Manitoba CA) Age: 50 - Email

Religion in schools - yes or no?

I'm afraid I have to answer, yes, it's essential, and, no, absolutely not.

To get a straight answer, it is necessary to divide the question a second time. A "religion" as the word is normally understood (Christian, Hindu, Wiccan) is a limiting definition. Most people feel a choice of a religion is like choosing a nation or a favourite hockey team - you cannot have dual citizenship, you cannot cheer for both. This view is inaccurate.

Functionally, a religion is a set of techniques, a toolbox of tools, used to bring the adherent into contact with the divine. That's all. This is why "all paths are valid". Depending on the seeker's unique needs, different tools are necessary. If I am hard of hearing, it will do me no good to buy glasses. The Church of the Divine Lens will do me no good - I need the Fellowship of the Small Voice.

The goal of all true religious practice is the same - contact with the divine. If a "religion" - a set of practices or tools - is misused, it will not achieve its purpose. Sometimes this is done purposefully, with religious forms being used as tools of social control. Cults and such. More often, I think, the tools are misused because the people using them cannot see what they are doing. Sort of like doing auto repairs on an invisible car. Or doing ceremonial "car repairs", with beautiful hand motions and a noble liturgy, when there's no car there at all.

Children soak up the stuff around them like little sponges. The presence of overt religious teaching in a school cannot be discounted or neutralized. Like it or not, they will pick up the intricacies of the ambient religious practice, just like they pick up everything else.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think children benefit from a scaffolding of practice with which they can approach the sacred. But if the ambient religious practice is carried out in the absence of the sacred - if they have the scaffolding but no building - then the practice is a dead practice and a hindrance to the seeker.

What is needed in schools is teachers who love, who care, and if possible, who know the sacred. If such people are in place, their knowingness will flow out through anything they teach, and the scaffolding, the brand names, the team uniform of a given religion is simply not pertinent. I had a number of teachers who had this quality. One loved paleontology, another taught Spanish and history, a third taught trigonometry. None of them ever talked about religion. But they had that moonlight glow of knowingness, and I fed on it.

And there's the problem. How to get and keep such people to teach our children? There must be ways to do it, but so far as I can see, it mostly happens by accident. Such people know where they should be, and get in and stay in the job, often in spite of overwork and stressful conditions.

I have to say, overt religion in schools - no. In our mosaic culture it is too easy for the home team approach to take over, smothering the sacred. But oh, how I wish we could increase those teachers, systems, and approaches which are conducive to knowing the divine. They are priceless.

Separation Of Church And State One Of The The Foundation Blocks On... Aug 21st. at 11:22:20 am EDT

Arielle (Skagit, Washington US) Age: 42 - Email

Separation of church and state one of the the foundation blocks on which our country is built. Right next to freedom of religion. I find it amazing that we are back to fighting about some of the very same concepts as our "founding fathers" did. Allowing religion into the public schools is beginning the destruction of the freedoms that were felt to be necessary and just for each of us. History shows us that combining church and state leads to more and more control of every facet of our lives. And more and more forcing all of us to fit a specific stereotype ordained as correct by the church in power. This sets up a forum for lack of freedom, and gives justification for it. The same groups who are loudest aout teaching their children to believe one certain way, are the same groups who are pushing religion in schools so that they can teach the cildren of other people who may not agree with "the one right way". At my daughter's high school, there are people just off campus handing out bibles. My daughter, who gives new meaning to the term evil eye, has them all trained not to even offer the bibles to her. One particularly pushy individual even tried holding a bible against her hand on the assumption that she wouldn't let it drop. Bad assumption. She even made a point of stepping on it - a little rude perhaps, but it made her point. If we allow religions in schools, will we be able to prevent that same religion from targeting our children with their missionaries? At this time I can complain to secular authorities about any adult talking to my minor children without my permission. What are my options when church and state mix??? What happens when the shild does not react in a positive way, but refuses the information??? The daughter mentioned above is lightly built, short, and wears baggy clothing. This tends to make her look younger than she is until she talks. A group of missionaries (who shall remain nameless) going door to door engaged her in a conversation without my permission or knowledge. They told her very seriously that the world was flat, on four pillars, on the backs of 4 turtles swimming in and ocean. She thought about it for a few moments and asked the if the ocean was on another flat planet, on four pillars etc., etc. They left quickly after calling her several unflattering thins she has chosen to be proud of. Why do they assume that they can talk to my minor child without my permission? They definately got what they deserved in this situation, but I could also have gone to the authorities and pressed charges, since my daughter was 13 at the time ( and looked 10 or so). If we blur the line between the government and a particular religion, then all of us who are not members of that religion will be persecuted for our beliefs and not allowed to prevent our children being forced to be part of the ruling religion.

Personally I Could Care Less If The Person Beside Me In School... Aug 21st. at 11:28:34 am EDT

NightTiger (Chesapeake, Virginia US) Age: 15 - Email

Personally I could care less if the person beside me in school decided to make a prayer before eating, or if the little girl next to me at the football game said a prayer for her big brother in the game. The only time things start to bother me, is when the religion is forced on me. I refuse to sit in school and be forced to listen to prayers of other peoples. Prayer, even for this Wiccan, is a private matter and really no one elses buissness. I just wish the same rights that the other students of other faiths are given. If they have a christian group, well than I would at least like the right to request a pagan one. If their prayers are on the loud speaker, than why not ours? Personally I think if the schools will just let people prayer on their own, and stop forcing students to listen to their prayers, there wouldn't even be an arguement. I honestly don't care what the person next to me believes, they aren't going to sway my beliefs. And to tell you the truth, I love to learn about other religions, just in a scholoarly sense, but just don't want it shoved down my throat that I have to believe. Most of my friends and I love to have discussions on the religions and our believe systems. We also realize though that we are just going to have to agree to dissagree because we are loyal to our faith. If the schools would really just back out of the whole mess, and let the kids believe in their faiths, and NOT make it into a big deal if some kid is a Wiccan, Jew, Christian, or other faith or non-faith, I think it would all just die down and people would get used to the idea that other religions are out there. I do wish though that my history class had had more time to discuss religions (again in a purely scholoarly way) and their effects on civilization. Because truely each and every system has contributed, and I just wish more people would realize that everyone's beliefs are just slightly different, and therefore their own system.

As A Libertarian, I Believe That The School Should Deal With Teaching... Aug 21st. at 11:32:51 am EDT

Ed Broneske (Roseville, California US) Age: 34 - Email

As a Libertarian, I believe that the school should deal with teaching Reading, Writing, Math, History and Science. There are no place in the duties of public schools for religious training, which I believe are the duties of parents, and churches. My defination of church is any group joined together for the purpose of spiritual growth.

I think that a class can teach about the various religions in a comparative religion format as long as it is done objectively and with equal access to all faiths both majority and minority.

I don't agree with a school or any other government agency posting the 10 commandments, or for taxpayers to pay for any posting of any religious document regardless of the religion.

I believe that if a teacher wants to keep a religious book on their desk to read during their free time that's ok. I also think that the teacher should be allowed to be open about their faith (except during class time), but should not have the right to try to convert the students. For example a wiccan teacher should be allowed to wear a pentacle, and a christian should be allowed to wear a cross. They should be able to talk about their faith if the the student asks them, but they should keep in mind that a child's spiritual nurturing is the parent's responsibility and not the teachers, and they should do it in as objective of a way as possible. I don't think that a teacher should give a student a religious book, but can recommend a book for a student to read if they aquire it on their own.

Education Is -- Or Ought To Be -- An Enlightening Experience. It Should Open... Aug 21st. at 11:40:13 am EDT

J. P. DeMeritt (League City, Texas US) Age: 43 - Email

Education is -- or ought to be -- an enlightening experience. It should open minds to the incredible diversity of the world around us and help us understand how truly wonderful the universe is. As such, I feel we should relish the opportunity to bring religion into schools -- as long as it's done in the right context. The problem appears to be that some people think religion is like math: there's only one right answer to the problem!

The right context for religion in schools is one that neither favors nor denegrates any religion. The right context is one that both acknowledges difference and encourages students to explore difference. The right context is one that recognizes that parents and the churches/synagogues/mosques/temples/ covens, or whatevers that people go to worship are the proper authorities for promoting and reinforcing faith -- and that school teachers should not also be the arbiters of spiritual matters! As such, I believe students should be taught about ALL religions. If parents and other religious authorities are doing their parts and LIVING their faiths, their children will not be swayed by others' religions; but they MAY find that, in all their differences, they have enough in common to live together peacefully! And that may be the most enlightening aspect of education we can hope for!

Merry Meet. As A 14 Year Old, Being Subject Of Racism By... Aug 21st. at 1:56:31 pm EDT

Sarah Larivee (New Milford, Connecticut US) Age: 14 - Email

Merry meet. As a 14 year old, being subject of racism by my peers and teachers due to the religion that I choose to study, I think that the posting of the Ten Commandments is a poor idea. It would be an un-wise decision to make that idea become reality. I believe it is a way for the major religions who believe and live off of the Ten Commandments to try to hammer their ideas and beliefs into our heads, and trying to make us think that their way is, in fact, the right way. These commandments are coming from religions that believe that inter-racial marriages are wrong, and that homosexual marriages are sins, and will lead you to Hell. It's a horrid thing to think that something that the Major Religions were built on, would decorate the walls of our schools. Schools try to teach us to be fair, to learn, and to be aware of the differences among peers and their families. Sometimes I feel ashamed that I was baptised by such a crude path that thinks these things.

An example of this racism that happened in my school of a small town in Connecticut: My art teacher had assigned a project of a self-portrait to the entire class. She stated that it did not have to look entirely like ourselves, but it could look like our spiritual side or how we wanted to look, but it couldn't be changed too dramatically. So, I decided not to change anything but a few face features and the background. The background was black, white and gray, mixing together colors, symbolizing that I am not racist at all, whatsoever. Then, I painted the Goddess symbol {Maiden, Mother, Crone} on the top of my head. A pentacle was tied onto a string and was dangling from my neck. I handed in my assignment and the teacher grabbed me by my arm, yelled at me, saying that my painting was "in-appropriate" and that she "didn't accept negative things, such as satanism, in her classroom". So, I took the situation to the main office, who said that her idea was somewhat right, but that I shouldn't have a Swastika on there. I had nothing of the sort! (A lot of my best friends are Jewish. It was a ridiculous thing.) I explained to them that the shape that they were "concerned about" was a Pentagram, and that it was a symbol of the Earth and Her Elements. They didn't believe me and assumed I was making up stories. See what these Major Religions can put into peoples' heads?

During my journey I've come to find that Wicca is the only religion that makes sense to me. The concepts and the rituals and the reasons of celebration, I believe are all worth the effort and time that it would take to do such things. I do not think that schools have the right, or even right to have CONCERN about taking these thoughts away from me. I don't think that schools or parents can handle the thought that "young people" can make these religious decisions on our own, and I think they're trying to steer us away from making "wrong decisions". We *have* the RIGHT to make these decisions for ourselves and to learn what we want to learn. I think that if a child wants to bring a bible to school, then they should be able to. I think that if a child wants to bring their Book of Shadows or their Mirror Book to school, to read to themselves (some feel comforted if they have them with them always - I have friends like this.), then they should be able to. I am not against any other religion, at an extent to cross out their Ten Commandments. I just think it is wrong subjecting people that are not of those beliefs to the Ten Commandments because people worked so hard to perhaps forget their old, even forced-upon paths, and to create new lives for themselves. Our schools have lost their morals and their intelligence lately. The Ten Commandments will not bring them back.

*Blessed be*

School Is No Place For Evangelists. Although I Have No Problem With... Aug 21st. at 2:15:58 pm EDT

Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) Age: 24 - Email

School is no place for evangelists. Although I have no problem with people doing their own religious thing at a school, or even a class that teaches a broad overview of the world's religions, trying to hold one religion over another and teach that it is the one right one is out of the question.

"Thou shalt have no other God before me." What does this say? There is one true religion and no one should believe another. If the Ten Commandments are put into schools, the atmosphere will become one of adversity. Learning will take a back seat for students who are not in the majority.

I believe that the Ten Commandments should not be posted on school walls or shown openly to students, save in a proper classroom setting, where the Talmud, Quran, and any and all other religious writings are shown to have equal footing with Christianity. The same should be true with any other religious teachings.

As A Wiccan Stepmother Of 3 Elementary School-age Children, I Believe If... Aug 21st. at 3:16:06 pm EDT

Diane Schoales (Warner Robins, Georgia US) Age: 19 - Email

As a Wiccan stepmother of 3 elementary school-age children, I believe if any religion is going to be displayed in schools, that ALL religions should have equality in that right. In my stepchildren's school district, pentacles are considered "gang paraphernalia" and are not allowed to be worn under any circumstances, yet at the same time, the Cross and the Star of David are allowed to be displayed openly. I do not understand why the school board has put the label of "gang paraphernalia" on a religious symbol, as there is, to my knowledge, no gang activity in this town. My stepdaughter is studying Wicca and wants to show openly that she is proud of our faith and beliefs, yet she is afraid that she may well get kicked out of school. Her father and I have explained that many people do not understand and that they are very close-minded, yet she cries because she does not understand why. It upset us that we are supposedly living in a free country with freedom of religion, and yet we are forced to suppress our beliefs. We are not sure what to do to have religious equality in this area. It saddens me that we as pagans have to face such adversity in a free country. My opinion is that if any religion is going to be "advertised" in schools, that all should be represented equally and fairly. That would be the only way I would allow ANY religion in schools.

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