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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 5,359,533  

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

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.


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

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


Obviously There Is No Place For Religion In Public Schools. (yes - I... Aug 22nd. at 9:46:34 am UTC

Julia Walkingfish (Pa- btween Phil.&Lancaster, Pennsylvania US) Age: 40 - Email


Obviously there is no place for religion in public schools. (yes - I know the exception of a survey of world religions , etc.- but that's never the real issue is it?) I am a totally 'out' Witch and am sworn to never again hide what I am nor to tolerate slurs or discrimination. That being said , I teach my daughters by example and when the time is right , believe they will seek their own path. I just don't want anyone else putting their theories out at the expense of what I know of the way the universe works. Isn't it interesting that the bone of contention is always schools- places of supposed learning? I've yet to hear of a campaign to post anyone's commandments at the Post Office or the IRS. That is what makes it so insidious.


While Students Do Not Leave Their Religions At The Classroom Door, Neither... Aug 22nd. at 7:44:16 am UTC

PeanutButter (Topeka, Kansas US) Age: 51 - Email


While students do not leave their religions at the classroom door, neither do those of us who teach school. The first amendment question becomes do I have to lead their prayers? Do I have to have the "no other gods before me" portion of the ten commandments posted in my classroom? Do I have to participate in a religion in which I do not believe? I'm happy to watch a religious activity in which I do not believe, but do I have to participate or prosthelytize? As a World Geography teacher, I discuss religion in my classroom all the time as an exploration of world culture. I do not, however, wish to be forced to espouse any religion, even my own, within my classroom. Religion is an individual or family choice; it is not a state or public school choice. School is about exploration and exposure to ideas from which to make individual choices, from which to form one's personal belief system. Limiting that exploration redefines education such that it becomes indoctrination. Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion. As an public employee, I do not believe that my employer, the state, has the right to force me to participate or indoctrinate others in any religion. Religion and the public schools is about the Constitution. It is not even about religion. It is about the freedom to choose.


I Live In Canada, And Up Here The Rules Regarding Seperation Of... Aug 22nd. at 1:55:08 am UTC

Erik Miller (North delta, British Columbia CA) Age: 15 - Email


I live in Canada, and up here the rules regarding seperation of church and state are pretty much the same as those in the US. The only difference is that we don't have political candidates trying to put religion in school.

MY belief on the subject is that religion and school should be kept as absolutely far apart as possible. The instant religion (regardless of which religion it is) is involved in how a school is run, even slightly, it shows religious bias and will start offending someone. I've had a chance to read the various articles that Wren's Nest links to about politicians lobbying for the posting of the Ten Commandments in schools and courthouses. They claim that they'll post it as "a historical document" and not as a religious one, but how is that possible? "Thou shalt honour no God above thy own Lord in Heaven." How is that not religious? If they omitted that particular commandment, then it would be perfectly acceptable (in my eyes at least), but then you'd be left with The Nine Commandments, and you'd be acused of being sacriligious (sp?) to the Christian faith. So really, there's no possible solution to the problem except to avoid posting it altogether. This proves my point that religion and the state must be kept as seperate as oil and water, maybe even more so.

That's not to say that religion shouldn't be taught in classrooms. Quite the opposite in fact. I am utterly and completely FOR teaching of religion in schools, as long as every notable religion is covered. I say notable because if one had to teach about EVERY religion, then (to take an example from the WitchVox white pages) someone could say that they worshipped kumquats, and had a High Holy Kumquat Day, and the teachers would have to teach about it. However, notable could also be taken the other way, saying that only religions with x number of followers are acceptable to study. In my opinion, a "notable" religion is a religion that, at some point in time, was or is a majority religion in some part of the world. This definition would include Aetheism, Paganism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism (sp?), Santeria, Native American Spirituality, and even lesser known faiths such as Zoroastrianism. The teaching of these religions would have to be done in such a way that the teacher shows no bias (maybe except for his/her own faith, which would be extremely hard not to show) to any particular religion.

The teaching of religions in classrooms would also help the problem that the politicians are trying to fix by posting the Ten Commandments: the declining level of spirituality, religiousness (if that's a word), and morales in today's youth. By examining the values, practices, morales, and history of various religions, today's youth could learn how to better treat one another, and (to quote a certain "historical document") to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

A minor myself, I would welcome with open arms any course my high school offered that dealt solely with religion, and I know many, many others who also would. However, school officials (paricularly public school officials) are so concerned with getting slapped with as few lawsuits as possible and avoiding anything that could produce a "situation" that they will probably not implement this sort of course in my school lifetime, or my (possible) child's either. *sigh*


I Think That Religion Should Not Be In Schools. The Exception To... Aug 22nd. at 12:46:18 am UTC

Elizabeth (Nashville, North Carolina US) Age: 26 - Email


I think that religion should not be in schools. The exception to this, of course, would be a course or curriculum on religions of the world, but that falls under history and is not really the issue here. Although this is a Christian phrase, the old adage "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's" can also apply to the Pagan community. I certainly try not to impose my religious beliefs on others...I would hope that they would extend me the same courtesy.


Frankly, And I Know This Is Probably An Unpopular Opinion, I Agree... Aug 22nd. at 12:02:58 am UTC

Andrea (Loveland, Colorado US) Age: 30 - Email


Frankly, and I know this is probably an unpopular opinion, I agree with my husband (who gravitates somewhere between loose christian and atheist). There is so much distruction amongst our young people of any faith. I have been a witch all my life and will admit that I don't know a lot about the 10 commandments. I do know some of them. And frankly, as long as it portrays a positive message, I don't care if they put it in neon lights above the school! I suppose I believe that whatever religion you are going to be, you are going to be regardless of what your parents try to push you towards. They reach a certain age and are bound to experiment with other religions in some form or another. (I know I did) Granted, I don't have any children yet. But when I do I want them to know both of our faiths and be able to use them and take advantage of the benefits each has to offer. If they ever question the meaning of the commandments of the christian god I plan to explain my interpretation as I see it, and leave it up to them to pull what they can from it. If at that time they still want to become a christian (I imagine I'd be hurt somewhere inside) but if they take it to the most positive level I would not want to stop them. There can be some positive lessons to be learned from the 10 commandments as long as the reasoning behind them is explained. If nothing else it leaves room for disussion about other faiths!

I know that people are all upset because religion in the schools only seems to mean ONE religion. I know that is a horrible thing! And I'm right by everyone else fighting to include every religion (although, if you think about it, some branches of satanists are calling what they do a religion and so they would have to be included as well or that would be hypocritical)! AND, I know that the christians or probably more the catholics at the time, did horrible things to the witches, accused witches and other pagans in the past (and sometimes now). That too is a terrible thing and so a lot of pagans don't want their children exposed to christianity. But I think if we got rid of some of the separation of church and state (only if it was related to ALL religions) I think it would benefit everyone and maybe something positive would come of a lot of our youth that seems to be so lost in this time. There is just so much fighting about religion in the schools. Even the christian children are afraid at times. They can't practice the way they want either. Even the main stream religions are affected by this and that only leads to a fighting attitude (which IS good sometimes). But I don't think the kids need to see or be involved in all the fighting. They have other things they have to deal with every day, they're young afterall. Then they see the parents doing it. It harbors resentment towards someone or some body of people.

I just think it would be more positive for everyone if they would just let every religion do it's own thing.
The only thing it it'll probably mean a more difficult winter program in the schools!! :)

As for prayer in the schools I believe that the moment of silence that some schools are doing would allow you to spend a moment with whatever god or goddess you choose to speak to and I can't see that as a bad thing.

I know it's wishful thinking to think that the school system would allow ALL religions but this is my thinking...the thought I wish to cast towards the schools system. To benefit all religions with the harm of none.

Sorry for the ramblings. This is probably the longest post I've ever written.


So, Say We End Up With "prayer" In School. Picture This...day... Aug 21st. at 11:12:09 pm UTC

Cate (Boston, Massachusetts US) Age: 40 - Email


So, say we end up with "prayer" in school. Picture this...Day 1 of freedom of religion on school grounds.The christian fundies gather in the chapel and the Wiccans & Pagans gather in the soccer fields for an open circle.

Day 2- the christian fundies are appalled over the "satanists" goings on in the fields. The Pagans, well we explain it is our Constitutional Right not their Religious Right (which is neither!) and that this is "our prayer" and you know what......no more "prayer in school" issue! Simple. Done. Pray on your own time not school time!!!


This Is Oddly Enough Not An Area I Had To Deal With... Aug 21st. at 10:58:55 pm UTC

BrightRaven (Williamsburg, Virginia US) Age: 22 - Email


This is oddly enough not an area I had to deal with in high school, despite the fact that I live in a very rural area. My friends knew I was Wiccan, and if any of the teachers heard us talking, they never commented. The issue of prayer in school never really came up- no one tried to lead anything, and the FCA (Federation of Christian Athletes) met *before* school, not during. I never tried to wear a pentacle to school, but I don't think anyone would have done anything if I had. There is a good chance, however, that I'm going to have a fight on my hands soon- I'm trying to start a PSU- Pagan Student Union- at my public university. We have been voted "Most Religious Campus" several times by various publications, and yes, the religions are pretty much all OT based. Most of the people I know are very open minded, but there's always close-minded jerks to be found. On the Ten Commandments issue, fine, post it if you want, but stick the Rede up there, find a nice all-encompassing Buddist statement, give us a line on Krishna's love of life, and for crying out loud, if you're going to try and be *Christian* remember the Golden Rule!! Hello! It seems that most "Christians" uphold the OT Ten Commandments over the NT Golden Rule. Not very Christian of them. Most of all, school districts need to stop this banning pentacles crud. It was actually a symbol used by Christianity in the Middle Ages; um, 'scuse me, but just what was it that Sir Gawain had painted on his shield? Not the crucifix, darlins.

The school boards have shown us one thing, and that is that *they* need to be educated. They need to learn that the world is bigger than they can imagine, and there are many more paths on the Mother's body that they can ever realize. Just because it is not a path they understand does not mean that it is invalid or evil. Face down the unknown and welcome it, rather than running from it.


Religion Should Be In Schools If ~everyone's~ Religion Is Mentioned And Honored... Aug 21st. at 10:07:24 pm UTC

Doreen Summer Rain (Southeastern Michigan, Michigan US) Age: 36


Religion should be in schools if ~everyone's~ religion is mentioned and honored - Atheism, Native American, Buddhist, Islam, Judaism, Wicca, African religions, Santeria, Jainism, X-tianity, Satanism, etc. The standard practice of only having X-tianity mentioned is a negative practice, and should not be tolerated if religion is in schools.

If the only solution is to use only X-tianity in schools, then NO religions or churches should be mentioned or practiced in schools.


As Long As There Are Pop Quizzes There Will Be Prayer In... Aug 21st. at 10:05:14 pm UTC

billielu (ft.scott, Kansas US) Age: 48


as long as there are pop quizzes there will be prayer in school...what that prayer entails is personal and private! The rest is not for the school to teach.


As A Junior In High School Who This Action Will Affect Directly... Aug 21st. at 10:04:21 pm UTC

Kyle (Lyons, New York US) Age: 16


As a Junior in high school who this action will affect directly, I know exactly how a person of different religious background would be uneasy by the posting of the Ten Commandments at public school. To me I'm a little offended that a country considered to be a "melting pot" for different people, races and religions, would try to support an act of superiority over those who are not of their background or lifestyle. Their thoughts were to produce an environment to promote a sort of peaceful feeling when seeing it walking down the halls. For me, I don't believe any religion should be represented in a public school or any public building. There must be a separation of church/any religious practice and public areas where a person(s) might not be of that one particular practice. I've spoken out about this issue to people before. And their rebuttal was always the same: "If you were of that group, would you still be against an act promoting it?" My answer was also consecutive: "Yes!" I was raised to care about everyone and their feelings and ideals. To the idea of representing other religious practices also, sounds possible, but their is always someone who will not fit in and be offended. Then there are those who's religion (a.k.a. any form of Paganism in this case) that would be hesitated to be represented or even thought of mentioning. The best example I can think of is; would an atheist want to attend a public school when assured separation of church and state, want religion shoved in their face? When reading someone else's opinion they spoke of the little things in this country. Such as the line "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance. For me this was not a big issue. Since I did not worship the Christian God implied in the pledge, I simply rewrote that section. "One nation under Brigit, daughter of Dagda, with liberty and justice for all." A result just a few turning heads with confused looks, but they soon deal with it.


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