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: Nov. 17, 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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| 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.
| 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,
| Personally I Don't Think A Public School Is A Place To Teach... ||Aug 25th. at 1:16:43 am EDT|
|Aine Nic Laisre (Coon Rapids, Minnesota US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
Personally I don't think a public school is a place to teach a child religion. They have troubles preparing a child for college life and if we left our spiritual wellbeing to them, I am sure they would mess that up too. It is my job to teach my child about spirituality.
I have no problems with the schools posting a moral code or something of the like as long as it is not quoted from a religion. If they are going to post the ten commandments, they should post every other religions teachings up also. But to post something on the wall such as "Respect others if you wish to be respected" or something to that extent or start teaching children in elementary that they should do a good deed a day...I would wholeheartedly support that as it would back up any religious teachings that my child is getting at home, without saying that one religion is more important than another.
| When I Was In The Sixth Grade In Public School In California... ||Aug 25th. at 12:19:01 am EDT|
|evergreen (Baltimore, Maryland US) ||Age: 59 |
When I was in the sixth grade in public school in California we had a neat setup where kids were excused from class for an hour each Tuesday for "religion class" which was voluntary and all the major religions had some nice little old lady who fed us cookies or took us out for ice cream sundaes and then (I of course became an instant Catholic at the thought of getting out of class for an hour) took us to the church which smelled great with exotic incenses and holy water and free Holy Cards each week. I loved it. But the point is that all of us kids had a choice (with the note from our parents of course) and nothing was forced. I think it is a good idea myself and would like to see Pagan ideas put forward in such a pleasant atmosphere.
| Religion Should Be Forbidden In Schools. Here In Central Pa A Group... ||Aug 24th. at 7:43:48 pm EDT|
|Andrea McCormick (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
Religion should be forbidden in schools. Here in Central PA a group of Christians tried to have their teens allowed to evangelize in public high schools. School should be a place of learning. It is a restricted environment in which students can't just leave without being punished. If the students were allowed to evangelize, any student who was targeted could not do anything but asked to be left alone. Of course, since Christians are "good" and anyone who doesn't want to be one is "bad" in the minds of most, this would make that student who didn't want to hear the Christians "bad". It devolves quickly into an us and them mentality. There are enough divisive things that teens have to deal with in high school, religion shouldn't be one of the. Most teens don't even really know what they believe, it is easy to preach Christian beliefs to be with the "good" crowd. If it were possible to teach a class in high school honestly detailing all religions so that teen could make an informed decision, that 'd be great but we all know just how far that would get.
Incidentally, as a matter of great personal joy, I wrote a letter like this to the editor of the local paper stating why I thought evangelical students was wrong and declaring myself as a pagan. After my letter was printed, I received a call from a elderly Jewish man who had been in the concentration camps. He wanted to thank me for pointing out the dangers of school/state approved religion and being willing to talk publicly about it.
| Already Several Comments From Canada, But None From Quebec, Where The Situation... ||Aug 24th. at 7:00:37 pm EDT|
|Isabelle (Hull, Quebec CA) ||Age: 26 |
Already several comments from Canada, but none from Quebec, where the situation is a bit different. Until one or two years ago, all public schools where religious, belonging to the catholic school board or the protestant school board. Not long ago, it was changed to French school board and English school board. The change is only in the name though. The students (or rather their parents) still have to choose between sending them to "religion" class or "moral" class. Of course, religion means catholic in French and protestant in English. At least parents have the choice to send their kids to the "moral" course instead (and have had that choice for more than 20 years). And study of all major religions is mandatory for all students in the last year of high school. Wicca is not one of these major religions of course, but it's a start toward diversity.
It might get even better soon. Lots of people in the government are pushing to remove religion totally from school, or offer it as optional weekend courses. The very powerful "Commission des droits de la personne" has ruled that, if they dont do that, in order to legally keep religion in school, they have to offer courses in all the religions followed by their students. This is quite impossible with so many religions, especially in Montreal (you'd need 50 religion teachers in each school)
I think our situation is overall much better than in the rest of North America. The catholic church has lost almost all it's influence except with senior citizens. And, of course, being a minority themselves, the people of Quebec tend to be very willing to protect the rights of minorities.
| Although I Have Watched My Children Be Teased About Their Beliefs, I... ||Aug 24th. at 6:49:31 pm EDT|
|Rianna Gwen (Sparks, Nevada US) ||Age: 28 |
Although I have watched my children be teased about their beliefs, I still think that it is important that they be able to express themselves at appropriate times through their homework, music, talking to people on their free time, and through art.
Religion is a part of who we are. It is something that rules the morals and values of many in their daily lives and assists children in developing their ideals and personal ethics in making decisions on things that effect them on a daily basis.
I will agree to have the 10 Commandments put up as long as the Wiccan Rede can be put up along side it. Now personally as things stand now it will be a cold day in Christian Hell before that happens. So therefore, I cannot agree that it would be "politically correct" to put one religions veiws as apposed to anothers in full view.
Another point I have is that it seems to me that it is a rediculous doctrine. Why would their divine tell them "Thou shalt not covet" then turn around and say, "There shall be no other Gods before me, for I am a jealous God". Um... well ... I guess it just proves the Pagan veiw that our Gods and Goddesses aren't perfect? (please don't throw anything at me on that one... its true i tell ya).
Anyhoo... that's my thoughts on this subject. If I continue I fear I will be rambling for a few days.
Blessed Be all~
| I Believe That No Religion Should Be Shut Out. If Child Wants... ||Aug 24th. at 6:08:32 pm EDT|
|Crystal (Honolulu, Hawaii US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I believe that no religion should be shut out. If child wants to pray, let them. But, it should not be organized to make everyone pray. If you want your child to have set prayer times, that is what a private school does. I also think that if public schools want to have a bible study class, then they should organize other religios voluntary classes to accomodate the other religions. A child has a hard time dealing with peer pressure and if everyone is praying he/she feels uncomfortable and like an outsider if they don't pray.
I am in the military and when we get new commanders, they always like everyone to bow their heads and pray with them. That makes me uncomfortable, because it is not what I practice.
| To Be Perfectly Candid, I Don't Believe Any Politician Would Care One... ||Aug 24th. at 5:09:53 pm EDT|
|Chuck (Worcester, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
To be perfectly candid, I don't believe any politician would care one whit about prayer in schools if it weren't a hot button issue. However it is, especially in the bible belt. We seem to be searching for some kind of happy medium between the scales of freedom of speech and seperation of church and state. However this is in a perfect world. Many people use their religion as how they define themselves, don't they have the right to be able to display the symbols of their belief system as they see fit? well again yes and no, it SHOULDN'T raise an issue if it were confined to personal expression, except that entire area is tricky. Where does personal expression and and propagandizing begin. Then there is the fact that religion A find the symbols of religion B morally offensive. That's the REAL sticking point. everyone finds something offensive and everyone wants their persoanl limits respected, preferably without being inconvenienced with the responsibility of respecting others. So what to do. It seems that some poeple are simply very good arguers, and enjoy the heart of a roaring conflict. These people are looking to pick a fight, and will fan the flames, just as fast as others try to put out the fire. The problem is because of this, no practical solution exists, that people won't pick to peices the minute it comes out. Freedom of relion and freedom of speech are both an illusion. to put such things in a law limit the freedom capable of being utilized. You are allowed to worship freely, except if your rastafarian and need to use pot, or something else, or you can worship but not here etc. Freedom of speech is something you have as long as you aren't famous. for anyone even slightly famous to speak their mind would lead to libel and slander suits right and left. Also as long as you don't say anything that makes powerful people angry you have freedom of speech. so what does that mean, take them out of the constiution and speed the way to the country becoming a theocractic dictatorship? I hope not. I think I'll just follow Ian McDonald's example from Bruno the Bandit. I'm going to stay true to myself, and let what I believe my faith to be, not what others belive it is or shpould be, guide me. Home schools are starting to look better and better, huh? Just one question though. it isn't meant to be sarcastic or anything I just would like to know, but do they have this kind of problem in Canada?
| Spirituality Is Something That One Lives. It Doesn't Just Leave You When... ||Aug 24th. at 3:32:58 pm EDT|
|Melanie Pohl (Auburn Hills, Michigan US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
Spirituality is something that one lives. It doesn't just leave you when you walk through a door. So naturally the issue of Spiritual beliefs and practices would enter into the educational environment.
I myself have never felt the need to set aside a specific time during the day to pray. For me, if I need to pray, I can pray anywhere and any time. It is a private matter that doesn't require a massive performance. However, some people's needs and differ from mine in that matter. That's fine. What isn't fine is to infringe on anyone's needs simply because they differ from someone else's.
I don't have a problem with prayer in school, as long as it is done on an individual, personal level. Not everyone prays, and not everyone who prays does so in the same way. To set aside specific "prayer time" in school would be to alienate those who do not pray, and has the possibility to favor one set of religious beliefs/practices over another. If those people who require prayer time must be accommodated, then set aside some personal time. Students can use this time however they personally see fit. Of course, there are always problems/challenges that can arise, and I frankly don't know what to say about these as I can't foresee every possibility. But some amount of "personal" time would accommodate those who need prayer time, without alienating those who do not pray.
| If Gov. Bush Wins This Election (goddess Help Us All!), The Problems... ||Aug 24th. at 2:11:15 pm EDT|
|Janice (Ft. Worth, Texas US) ||Age: 56 |
IF Gov. Bush wins this election (Goddess help us all!), the problems with religion in schools only escalate...a lot! I live in Texas and he has about ruined this state. We are lowest in education, health care, etc., the schools are a mess. He is very anti-Pagan! All those of voting age need to vote against him in this election if they want to have rights any place, not just schools! Spread the word! Bush has commented himself that he does NOT "recognize" Wicca as a religion or our rights! Every Pagan NEEDS to go to the polls and vote him out of a chance to become President or we all face years of suffering and going "back in the closet" again, anyway! BB, Janice
| I Liked The Way That Religion Was Dealt With In My School... ||Aug 24th. at 1:05:24 pm EDT|
|Victor J Kinzer (Bloomington, Indiana US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I liked the way that religion was dealt with in my school. No official funding or promotion by faculty could exist. But non official religious organizations were allowed. They were strictly before the first school bell rang and after the last, but they were allowed. Religious people do not check their relgion at the door and they should not have to. If a student wishes to pray that is their business, however there should be no time set aside officially for such activities. The problem is that the people in charge of most of the schools are christian. So they don't see it that way. We just have to remind them.
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