Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Unraveling of The Wall: When Schools Teach God

I am all for religious freedom. However, I think that there should be boundaries. As the very wise Brian Vander Ark (former lead singer of the Verve Pipe and now solo artist) said on his last album "I believe in God there is no debate--but I believe in separation between church and state." So any responses to this that try and peg me as anti-God or anti-religion best to just check themselves at the door.

I have to say though, that when it comes to public schools, religion should be left at the door...if not off the property entirely.

I grew up in an era that was largely free of the now-almost-rabid reach of evangelical Christians. It was only towards the end of my free public school education that I started seeing religious groups at school. It started off with an after-school bible study which turned into a prayer group which then led to more organizations like it. It was sad really, because how do you explain to young impressionable teenagers that religion doesn't belong in schools if they're right there?

But since I've moved on to college, then law school and finally the workforce, I look back and wonder how people see the line anymore as it is so blurred. In fact, it's down right muddy.

I don't believe there should be prayer in schools. But honestly, that's not my main concern. My main concern is when things like logic and science are thrown out the window at the whim of religious zealots. For example, many evangelicals believe that evolution did not happen. Instead of doing what other parents would do when they want an additional subject taught in schools, which is to teach their children that in appropriate forum such as home or church, they are insisting that public schools teach some form of creationism--now Orwellianly called Intelligent Design. Sarah Palin and John McCain believe in this. Instead of teaching kids the basics of how the world has evolved, teachers are finding themselves having to name some omniprecent being as the "designer" of it all. This isn't right.

To top it off, we've taken basic health information and politicized it to the point where it has become a controversy to teach basic functions in school. Comprehensive sex education is not only a liberal idea--it's a good idea. I know that had I not been told certain things in sex ed (however scant that sex ed was), I would have had total disinformation about everything from periods to condoms and pregnancy to STIs. Today's youth are finding out about sex from television--something that is bound to happen, but should not be the soul source of a child's sexual revolution. Although I thank Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" video for my own sexual revolution, I was primed with information about the basics long before I saw Helena Christensen parade across my television screen. Today's youth don't have that right to knowledge and information--instead it's been turned into a luxury for those who have parents unafraid enough to talk to their kids about sex.

The fact of the matter is that the whole point of a free public education was to keep religious and moral ideas out of our children's heads while learning the basic information needed to become a contributing citizen. Instead, religion--normally a good thing--is infecting our schools and taking over the curriculum.

The sad part is that the vast majority of Americans are stepping aside and letting this happen. Electing someone like John McCain as president and Sarah Palin as vice president will only further such public dis-education. Palin is a big evangelical who believes in teaching creationism as the sole source of our natural history to our youth. Though John McCain has never put forth a pro-creationism standpoint, he has done nothing to even downplay Palin's involvement in such ideas. (Really, he can't if he wants to capture the evangelical vote that was so crucial in electing GWB.) John McCain doesn't want to teach kids comprehensive age-appropriate sex education--in fact he misrepresents what the concept means just to garner a few more scared white people votes. McCain has often been a supporter of abstinence only sex education--something that obviously doesn't work.

Obama supports comprehensive sex education--something McCain even admits (though he lies about what it means). Obama and Biden are realists when it comes to education and science. For a refreshing first in a long time, they believe that it should not be imposed in schools.

If and when I have children one day, I'd like to send them to a school where they're given scientific information in science and health class. I just hope that school still exists then.


God's Rock Angel said...

I'm a christian and I live and breathe church stuff.

The thing that used to get up my nose was the lack of teaching about other religions - I didnt mind the christian stuff but I hated the fact that I wasn't learning anything. One particular lesson my teacher was teaching about Daniel in the Lion's den and got it totally wrong and when i corrected him and proved it in the bible he got rather annoyed and embarassed lol.

Where's the teaching about other religions and beliefs??

marilynJean said...

What really gets me besides the separation of church and state issue is the blatant disregard for other religions.

Granted, most religions explain our existence in the same manner: some divine entity created us and our world, but the Intelligent Design curriculum is very Christian-based. That is insulting to not only persons who don't observe the same deity, but also to people do love them some Jesus, yet possess enough logic to keep their faith out of secular education.

We're not asking that you teach sex ed and evolution in private, religious schools, so keep your private, religious ideologies out of our public schools.

The Lazy Housewife said...

I couldn't agree more. Any opinions about "intelligent design" are just that--OPINIONS. They have no place in the classroom. And the lack of sex education has led to increased pregnancies and STDs. NOT teaching kids about proper protection is NOT going to stop them from having sex--it's just going to increase pregnancies and the spread of STDs.

Sometimes the stupidity just amazes me.


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