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This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Religion in Schools - Part 3

The argument against Religion in Schools often includes quite a bit of chatter about how and when it's appropriate to teach religious subjects to students. To me, this is more than a simple black and white argument.

The idea that we can somehow delete all teachings related to religion from our education system is a complete impossibility! Art, History, World Cultures, even Science can not be properly taught unless we include religious beliefs and mythology. I mean, how to you teach the crusades and never mention Catholicism or Islam? And how to you teach Shakespeare without discussing Greek Mythology? And if there is ever an art class that skips over the Sistine Chapel I don't want my child taking it...

The basic fact is that you can't separate theology and history or all the things that make up the history of our world. Even the most basic subjects, Math, for example, have strong links to religion in some way or another.

BUT, does that give license to use the bible as a required text book? In my humble opinion, NO! Now, I don't have any issue with schools offering optional or elective classes where religious beliefs are focused on. And personally I would like to see Comparative or Religious Tolerance classes required in ALL schools. Not because I think anyone but the individual has the right to choose their path, but because I think it's important to teach tolerance.

What I don't support are classes which teach one faith over another in any way. But at the same time, it's to important to teach children the truth about the world to simply cut anything religiously based from their education. It's basic common sense... Which unfortunately, is in short supply now a days!

All of this aside, there are in fact more and more schools adding or trying to add religiously based classes. In some states it is now legal to use the Bible as a basis of Public School classes. And in even more states legislation has been introduced which would allow or even force such classes. Support for such laws has come from the Christian Right and numerous Christian parenting groups through the country.

The question I often like to ask supporters when this subject comes up is "How would you feel if your child's school started using the Qur'an, the Vedas, or even some of the Gnostic Christian books like the Gospel of Mary to teach children?"  Chances are, they wouldn't be quite so supportive of that! I would love to see a school try and introduce "The Witch's Bible" as an educational book. Can you imagine the sparks that would fly from that one?

So here's what it all boils down to... Public schools are NOT limited to students of a single faith. You would be hard pressed in ANY area of the country to find a single class of students in any school district which contained students who were all Christian. In some areas you may even find it difficult to find a class where the majority are Christian. So to legislate the use of a strictly Christian book steps outside of the boundaries of the schools and in to the area of Parents, Church and more than anything else, the student themselves. If we're going to teach religion, it needs to be in a neutral fashion accompanied by similar teachings from other paths and philosophical ideals. In now way should ANY path be presented as factual or wholly correct, to do so violates the student's right to a freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.

If you're one of the parent who wants your child to learn religion along with their, reading, writing and arithmetic,  then you have 3 options... 1. Have your child take after school or weekend religious classes, teach them your religion in addition to their regular Public School Education.  2. Put your child in a Private Religious School where they will be provided a religious education along with their every day lessons. OR 3. Homeschool and teach them whatever you choose.  Personally, I'm not a fan of homeschooling, but as of right now, it's legal, so take advantage of it if you feel you need to.

One of the greatest things about this country is that we have the Freedom to believe or practice whatever faith we so choose. AND, we have the right to send our children to Public Schools for an education, regardless of their or our faith. To teach religion or religiously based classes which are anything more than informational, comparative, historical or cultural is a violation of that freedom and of the rights of parents, the students and the teachers... And frankly, it's not one that should be accepted - ANYWHERE!

**This blog post was originally published to my One Witch's Wonderland Blog (now closed) on 1/17/12**

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