The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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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.
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| I Don't Know If What Follows Is Necessarily A Unique Perspective, But... ||Aug 25th. at 3:18:52 am EDT|
|Michael Burger (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
I don't know if what follows is necessarily a unique perspective, but here goes:
Just yesterday, I began my three year graduate program at the University of Colorado at Denver. My intended field of specialty? Public School Counseling (insert "oh, man!", "wow", "jeez" etc. at your discretion). I have followed the developments surrounding the hot topic of education of late, and I have wondered just how long I will have a job when I graduate. At this point in my life, I do not endorse any particular religious system in favor of another, essentially making me a "cafeteria spiritualist", I suppose. However, I understand that, just as a metropolis like Denver and a farming town like Farnsworth, Texas have several roads that will take you there, so too are there many roads to take you to the Source, whatever you hold that to be. Therefore, I seem to have found myself in a kind of defender role for the minority and less-than-popular viewpoints of spirituality.
My point is this: If I were expected to take a side on this issue, I would have to go with accommodation. It's the least palatable of them all. Why? Because for every credo, motto, rule, rede, and commandment a school endorses (by hanging on a wall), the school must also accommodate all other said beliefs represented by the students. Given that enrollment figures are climbing with each incoming class, it would seem that such attempts would eventually prove to be impractical. However, without such accommodation, a public school would have to become just that: a public school, devoid of any religious affiliation or endorsement, which private schools can avoid.
Why is this? Well, for every block of time set aside for prayer, the Administrators That Be have to take into consideration the requirements imposed on the faithful. Christians can pray silently or aloud, as their religion allows. Muslims, however, are required to face the Kaaba (east, for North America) and bow and prostrate themselves in a space set aside by a curtain or screen or some sort of boundary. Buddhists have their beads and chants, and, well, honestly, I'm not sure there's a general, standardized way Witches pray. Nevertheless, the point is that, in a short span of time, the school day is eaten up by prayer time. At least, time set aside after the first bell.
When I went to high school five years ago in Oklahoma City, the students could do as they liked BEFORE classes started. Any gathering with even the remotest connotation of religious worship (read: Christian student groups) was never officially endorsed, yet no other gathering was given air time on the PA system (like See You At The Pole). After the announcements, we had a "moment of silence", lasting about thirty seconds or so. That was probably the closest we got to prayer in school.
A long time ago (man, I can get wordy sometimes!), I had mentioned that I have been concerned about how long I will have a job. Why, you may ask? Because I see my office in my mind's eye. I see a crucifix perhaps, and a pertinent, inspirational verse taken from Mark, Matthew, Luke, maybe Thomas. I see a six-pointed star, with an appropriate scriptural quote from the Torah or the Talmud (in Hebrew and English). I see a crescent and a star, with a surah from the Qur'an (in Arabic and English, of course). I see a nine-pointed star, with a quote from the Baha'i Faith's Kitab-i-Aqdas. (Persian and English). Perhaps an "authentic" Indian dreamcatcher or rattle, with some words of wisdom from Chief Joseph. (I don't know if I could find it in Nez Perce). But then, the kicker, the source of consternation for my superiors, the "Well-I'm-all-for-eclectic-interests-but..." ringed five-pointed star (one point up, of course). Despite the display of the rede along with it, I will be the maverick, I fear, to the administration. The loose cannon, the One To Be Watched. And likely as not, I'll give them reason to think so. Because I'll be called a lot of things because of how I choose to decorate my office, but I'll be damned before I'm called an enemy of the students. The administration is going to dislike me if they think I'll roll over and let any religion take a place of prominence, to the detriment of others, in a public school setting. In this case, I'm afraid, I'm very all-or-nothing. You either share, or go without. Mom taught me that.
And if they fight me on this, I'll push for unisex bathrooms. THEN they'll back down. :)
Be good, be real, behave,
| There Is Certainly No Lack Of Churches,synogogues(sp?),or Even Religous... ||Aug 25th. at 5:11:37 am EDT|
|Arinna (Moyock, North Carolina US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
There is certainly no lack of churches, synogogues(sp?), or even religous broadcasts on Sunday morning to spread the message of the Ten Commandments. In fact, I would like to know why no one in the course of this debate has bothered to ask if American children are even unaware of what the Ten Commandments are.
My daughter knows them even though she is not a Christian and I would hazard a guess that most of her classmates are familiar with them as well. It kind of makes you wonder what the real purpose of the push to put the ten commandments on the walls of our schools is. Supposedly it is to combat the "moral decay" of our teenagers but if that were really so, wouldn't you first have a responsiblity to prove that:
1. The majority of kids are not aware of the Ten Commandments;
2. Their unawareness is the sole cause of their misbehavior (i.e. they had no other way to know that the mass murder of classmates was wrong and only killed because they hadn't read the Ten Commandments); 3. There is no other way to make them aware of the Ten Commandments than to display them in schools, churches simply can't be bothered to do it;
3. There is no other way to teach kids not to steal, lie, murder, etc. without including the Biblical Ten Commandments (you couldn't for instance just tell them why these things are considered wrong by every major civilization on earth) And what about the no-no's that the Ten Commandments are missing like: Thou shalt not commit rape or Though shalt not beat thy spouse or children (among others).
It is clear to me that the real purpose is to get that first commandment across to all of the non-judeo-christian children-- "Though shall have no other gods before me". And clearly the only thing that commandment could teach our children is that our schools and our government only approves of the judeo-christian God and that all that other crap the history teacher said about freedom of religion is only hypocrisy and shouldn't be taken too seriously.
| At My School, We Have A Class Called Biblical Literature Which Teaches... ||Aug 25th. at 10:01:14 am EDT|
|Ashley Wagner (Carmel, Indiana US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
at my school, we have a class called Biblical Literature which teaches the literature of the Bible, but does not preach the religion of it. I think maybe if they offer this class, they should offer other classes about different religions as well, such as Wiccan, Buddist, or Muslim religions. Public school is for everyone, that's why it's called public. if they make us take off our pentacles, then they must make a christian take off their cross. i've seen more gangs use a decorated cross more than i have seen them use a pentical. if you put prayer back into public schools, which prayer would you use? you can't write a prayer that is general enough for everyone, no matter how hard you try. the people writing it will have been of a christian background and will still put things in the prayer that are christian in origin, no matter how hard they try. they may do it subconsciously and not even think about it becasue that was the way they were raised, so it seems normal to them. students are going to carry their religion to school with them, no matter what you try to do about it. Teach tolerance and understanding and you will teach them love.
| Organized Prayer At The Begining Of The Day Is Wrong. It Never... ||Aug 25th. at 11:33:39 am EDT|
|Chad M. Snyder (Reading, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Organized prayer at the begining of the day is wrong. It never was nondemoninational and was geared to a certain belief system. If students wish to organize prayer groups that is ok. As long as they allow other religions to do the same. What is fair to one is fair for the other.
| To Begin With, A School Posting The Ten Commandments Is Odious At... ||Aug 25th. at 11:50:40 am EDT|
|Phil Hoffman (Traverse City, Michigan US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
To begin with, a school posting the ten commandments is odious at best.
I have a "Darwin Fish" on my car in response to the "other" fish we see so often. And, I have a saying: "Don't try to shove your fish down my throat and I won't try to shove my fish down your throat."
No, students cannot leave their religion at the door, but by the same token, they must refrain from proselytizing. That means Christians, Jews, followers of Islam and Budda, as well as Wiccans.
I wish that a "Survey of World Religions" class was mandatory for all people. It could go a long way toward promoting peace and understanding throughout the world.
| I Personally Believe There Should Be No Debate. The Constitution Is Crystal... ||Aug 25th. at 12:11:46 pm EDT|
|Adam Butler (Jacksonville, Florida US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I personally believe there should be no debate. The constitution is crystal clear, separation of church and state. There is no room for interpretation in these words no matter how much certain politicians try. Since public schools are funded with government money, your and my tax dollars, they should be neutral on the subject of religion. You also have to ask yourself, where does it end? What next, the Bible as a textbook? This is totally unacceptable. Proper education about different religions is alright as long as no religion is advocated. Children should be educated about Muslims, Hindus Wiccans, and Christians as long as the information is factual and/or historical. Prayer in school is totally out of the question. Which prayer, Jewish, Muslim, or what? Our money funds these institutions too, and we have a right to protest this legislation.
| Lets Start With The First Part Of The Question And Work Our... ||Aug 25th. at 3:13:26 pm EDT|
|Jesse D Sadowski (Jacksonville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
Lets start with the first part of the question and work our way from there.
(church and state) By keeping the church and state seperate the religious rights of every american is assured, as long as they follow federal regulations a.e the contitution/bill of rights/amendments. The problem with a unified church/state is that now a wall is placed between the people and their federal rights. State laws would begin to reflect a church attitude. For example, as far as I am aware there is no law saying a person/persons cannot hold a ritual on state land as long as the land is not damaged. But if the state and the church were one then state land would in effect belong to the church thus under their athority. You can imagine what would happen to anyone caught holding a wiccan ritual there. My second example has already happened; North Carolina is a part of the Bible Belt, a large area considered the most religious in the country. Under state law no person may purchase alcohol before 12:00pm on Sundays because it is considered a holy day. A holy day for whom might I ask, you don't need to answer that.
(religion in school) When I first heard the proposal the place the Ten Commandments in public schools I just shook my head and said "here we go again".
It has been common knowledge for some time now that there is no room for religion in school. I wish this rule applied to all schools not just public but one cannot have everything. Putting the commandments in a public school is a good idea from a moral point of view as long as the commandments posted reflect only morals not religious guidlines, so remove that "no other god before me" for a start. After that how about adding a few more like "thou shall not commit rape, abuse, fraud, larceny, oppress and most importantly thou shall not condemn those different from yourself" Isn't it funny that the church is guilty of all of these or has been at one point in time. As for allowing religious practice in school there is one small problem that seems to jump out at me. A vast majority of X-tians are already dead set against Witchcraft and of course they get this attitude from teachings at home and/or church. Imagine what would happen if they also recieved the same teachings at school, just how much worse do you think it would get?
Shade and Sweet Water
| Religion And The State Should Be Separate - There Are No Two Ways... ||Aug 25th. at 5:28:07 pm EDT|
|Waves on the Sea (Tulsa, Oklahoma US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Religion and the State should be separate - there are no two ways about it. This should have been settled a long time ago. If politicians weren't so worried about getting prayer in public schools then they might be able to promote a real education. I suggest everyone start with Locke's "A Letter Concerning Toleration." There is no better argument than this document, and if everyone read it, then they might see the dangers inherent in a state sanctioned religion. When the government or the ruling body refuses to recognize a certain group and the rights of that group, then rebellion and protest are the result. When certain religions are allowed and others are not in schools, that is the first step toward a theocracy; fascism comes to religion. What people don't realize all the time is that the deprivation of rights comes not from a sudden coup, but from the slow erosion over time. If we take that step backwards and sanction religion in schools, diverse or not, we are on that path. Even if all religions are allowed, there is obviously a majority - are we really so naive as to think that this won't cause division and crisis? For the pushing of one belief system over another is inevitable, and the oppression starts all over again. Don't we ever learn? The answer is to just avoid the whole mess altogether.
| The School Board In Our County, Voted Last Year To Direct The... ||Aug 25th. at 7:32:40 pm EDT|
|Mithriel (Bandera County, Texas US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
The school board in our county, voted last year to direct the Superintendant of the school system, to reinstate prayer in school. This was to happen by having teachers and coaches instructed to initiate a prayer (and I will tell you that all prayers were heavily Christian) at all school functions. More than one member of the school board stated on public record, that this would go against a specific directive from the court of appeals governing our area.
It took a second vote, repeated advice from the attorneys representing he school district, and a letter from me promising to sue the district, to have that vote recast (excuse the pun!) and the decision reversed.
Religion belongs at home or in the heart. Religion in our school district in my county really means that we are all forced into a Christian church at every school event. I have no objections to a moment of silent meditation for personal reflection. I do mind watching my son play football only if I agree to practice someone else's religion.
| We Are Taught As Children That The Separation Of Church And State... ||Aug 25th. at 7:43:45 pm EDT|
|Mark Chapin (skokie, Illinois US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
We are taught as children that the separation of church and state is one of the founding principles of our country, however, that has never been the case. As long as one religous group is dominant in a governing body, we will never have a true separation. As humans, we tend to look out for our own kind first, then the other guy. In a case where a majority of one group believes themselves to be "right" and everyone else who believes differently "wrong" (as with Christianity), they will tend to make laws and protocal by their religious standards. In a situation where the the only ones living there are of a similar religous belief, then thats fine. However, thats not the case now, nor has it ever been(atleast not when dealing with a largely populated landmass). To ask for true separation of church and state is to ask too much of what is humanly possible. That would take a level of understanding that we as a society just don't have. I have been a pagan my whole life. Never have i been baptised in a Christian church, and I take pride in that. When going to school, I was teased for my lack of Christian beliefs. The fact that I was raised Buddhist caused major concern for more than a few parents. While I can't prove it, I think a few of them may have even encouraged their children to tease and provoke me. I didn't have an easy childhood, nor do I think do alot of pagan children, but then I think that maybe 1800 years ago, chistians probably had a hard time too. While I do have an irrational animosity towards most christians and Christianity in general, I do understand their wanting to control things. While that doesn't mean I support them in their endevours, I do accept that as a human failing. We fear the unknown, and one way to cope with that fear is to control that which we don't understand. I guess what I'm trying to say is simply that separating church is a laudable idea, I just don't believe that it will ever happen.
| I Feel There Should Be Complete Separation Of Church And State And... ||Aug 25th. at 9:17:04 pm EDT|
|Tourmaline (Laplace, Louisiana US) ||Age: 44 |
I feel there should be complete separation of church and state and religion has no place what so ever in our public schools. In my way of thinking the whole issue of the 10 Commandments being posted and having standardized prayers should never have raised it's ugly head. If fearing that the students aren't aware of how to act in society is part of what is driving this issue then a list of ethics could be posted in schools. This list could be drafted with no religious overtones, it could be simply humanistic.
| Merry Meet! I Am A Mother Of 3 Children, Ages 13, 8... ||Aug 25th. at 10:11:52 pm EDT|
|Tammy "Solstice" Cortez (Moreno Valley, California US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I am a mother of 3 children, ages 13, 8, and 3. I well know the controversy of the school district officials trying to post the Ten Commandments in our public schools. As we all know this frenzy to get them posted hit high pitch when school shootings began to get out of control, such as the incident in Columbine, CO. Now I know that this was not the only catalyst that caused the school districts to take such measures, for we all know how much certain religious groups will take any opportunity to impose their beliefs onto others even if others don't want to hear it.
Anyway, to the point, the school district that my children are in tried to do the very same last year and FORTUNATELY the measure was shot down thanks to a FEW very vocal parents and the help of the ACLU. What really made me angry, however, was the way in which the district board initially put the measure on the table for a vote. It was in an unannounced meeting that many parents, including myself, did not know about. It was initially put to vote and was passed by 4 out of 5 board members. When I found out about it I immediately wrote letters both to the board and to the ACLU letting them know that I was firmly against the postings. Evidently the school board, up against the ACLU, decided to bring the measure to a second vote for confirmation. This again was in an unannounced "emergency" meeting which I only heard about because my neighbor's daughter got kicked from cheerleading practice in order for the auditorium to be used for the meeting. Consequently, when I heard about the meeting, my neighbor and I both went in protest to the posting of the Ten Commandments. We won, but I must tell you that there were only 5 parents, including myself, who came to speak out against the measure, and there were at least 20 parents and ministers who came to speak for it. BIG difference, huh? Interesting that so many people in favor of the measure knew of the meeting and so few opposed knew, huh? :) I truly believe that the only reason that we won our fight was because of the pressure of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, and my sincere thanks goes out to that organization.
My own opinion about religion in schools is this: If religion is being taught in a classroom then it should only be in a historical sense and it should encompass ALL religions from all over the world. Then our children will learn not only what other religions are about but also about how other cultures live and work. BUT, that is where I draw the line for religion in our public schools. I do believe that our children also have a right to freely express their views on their particular religion and also to wear clothes and jewelry that show their reverence for their particular faiths. I do not believe that it is the school's right to say whether or not someone may or may not wear a pentacle or a cross. If they do put a ban on pentacles, then my feeling is that crosses should also be banned, as well as any other piece of jewelry or clothing that may have ANY religious connotation. HOWEVER, I would like to see our children have the same freedoms as other children and be able to religiously express themselves with their jewelry and clothing. :)
Finally, as to the Ten Commandments being posted in our public schools. My opinion is that there is no good reason for posting them. The Ten Commandments are primarily a Christian/Judeo belief system and to post them in public schools for ANY reason is religious discrimination, plain and simple. With children out there of so many different faiths, it would put our children under tremendous pressure and confusion if they are forced to read or to follow one set of "Commandments." Take for example, little "Jonny Buddhist", a 6 year old first grader, who happens to get into trouble on the playground. He is asked to go to the office and after being chastised by the principle he is then asked to read the posted Ten Commandments. He gets to the commandment which reads "Thou Shalt Not Worship Any Other Gods but Me (or The Almighty, whichever way it reads)" and he gets confused. He goes home to Mommy or Daddy Buddhist and asks them, "Mommy, am I not supposed to worship other gods???" or "Is Buddha the Almighty God?" etcetra. Now after 6 years of teaching from his parents (which is hard work) they now have to sit down and try to explain that the particular commandment that he read does not necessarily apply to him. Now the child will really be confused because on the one hand he has his parents telling him that it does not apply to him and he has the school officials telling him that it does. Are you confused, because I sure would be!!! It just isn't going to be good if this happens anywhere. It won't bring peace, it will only make more segregation and confusion.
Well, that is my opinion. I hope that this helps some of you or gives some good points with which to argue if the situation ever comes up in your neighborhood, as it did mine. Blessings and Peace to you all!!
Love and Light,
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