My journey to shoot for the moon.

G*d In Our Schools?

One of the things that has me perplexed is that people are claiming that if G*d was in our schools, then Sandy Hook would never happened.

Thinking about this, you can take it two ways.  First, if G*d was allowed in schools then the shooter would have had a religious foundation and never would have brought a gun into the school with the intent to kill.  The second way you can take it is that if G*d was allowed in schools, he would have protected the children and teachers from the shooter.  This second thought is outrageous and worthy of its own post.Both of these ideas leave me perplexed.  How can a country that is based upon the belief of religious freedom even consider not having the separation of church and state?  Our ancestors came to this country to escape religious persecution.  Allowing worship in schools would create an environment where religious tolerance could not be guaranteed.    Children would feel “different” because they practice a religion that was not of the majority.  They would feel pressure to conform to the majority.

I grew up in an area that was predominately Christian.  There were two other Jewish families in my grade school.  I fully understand what it feels like to be in the minority; what it feels like to be different.  It can be a very scary thing.  It leaves one feeling left-out.  I remember feeling quite different when a number of kids were attending CCD classes on Wednesday nights.  It may not seem like a big deal, but here it is, around 35 years later and I still remember CCD was on Wednesday night.  Obviously, it impacted me and made me feel that I was missing out on something that the other kids were doing.

I also experimented with Christianity when I was in college.  Again, Jews were invisible to me.  I didn’t fit in.  I didn’t understand services in Hebrew (I never learned it – there was no Jewish community nearby), and I was lost.  I thought that Christianity would fill the void that I felt.  I was wrong.  It didn’t fill the void and alienated me from my family.  After tears and much soul-searching, I distanced myself from Christianity.

I learned that I could not escape my feelings of being in the minority.  But the pressure to conform was enormous and I was near adulthood.  I can’t begin to imagine the ostracizing that would occur if we allowed religion into our schools.  No one, especially the majority, has the right to tell me what to believe.

At 42 years old, I do not know what I think about a higher power.  Admitting that I don’t know is not difficult.  But admitting, that in some ways, I am jealous of those who are certain of their beliefs, takes courage.   I don’t know the answers and I am sometimes not sure of the questions.  It would be easier to conform to the majority.  But I am not willing to accept what has been taught to the majority.  I have questions that cannot be answered (and I realize that is is the essence of faith – believing without proof) and I am not ready to believe for the sake of believing.

If I feel this way, as an adult, how would a young child feel if they were faced with being in the minority?  What kind of mental health issues would be the result?

And what if, heaven forbid, the Intelligent Design believers were the majority?  What if, in their efforts to bring G*d to the schools, they decide (in their ultimate wisdom) that evolution was an affront to G*d?  What if they decided that evolution should not be taught or discussed in school?  Where would that leave us?

Or, how do you think people would feel if the majority religion was Islam?  Or Buddhism? Or Witchcraft?  What would be the result?  I fear, intolerance.  The very thing many of our ancestors came here to avoid.  Perhaps the result would be segregation.  Instead of  separating people by race, we would separate people by religion.

The United States lags behind other countries in innovation, technology and other science based fields.  Our students are not as creative as those in other countries and often fail at problem solving and/or thinking outside the box.  I do not believe that implementing prayer and/or religion is the solution to this problem.  In fact, I believe that it will make the problem worse. I believe that when we tell children what to believe, we restrict their ideas about the world (I will write about this in a future post).

Schools, teachers and principals are seen as “authority figures.”  For many young children, teachers can do no wrong (or make mistakes – although teachers know we make mistakes all the time!).  What this means is that if a teacher were to introduce G*d into the classroom, the child would be shaped by the teacher’s view of G*d.  Many young children want to please their teachers, so “adopting” the teacher’s ideas would be a natural extension of their “learning.”  Where does that leave critical thinking?  Respect for and acceptance of other cultures?

Parents who want their children educated in a specific religion have the choice to send their child to a religious school instead of a public school, they can arrange religious education after school or teach their child at home.  Parents have the responsibility to educate their children in their family values and beliefs.  Please notice I said that parents have the responsibility to educate their children in their family values and beliefs.  If you want your child to believe as you do, it is your responsibility to teach them (or arrange for them to be taught), not leave it up to the public school system.

At this point, I have to say that I am more perplexed than I was when I started this post.  Teachers have been portrayed as greedy (only in it for the money – hah!  if you only knew how little we really make for the work we do), Union-thugs, ineffective, not interested in our students’ best interests, and other hateful things.  Why then, would anyone want us responsible for educating children in religion?  If we are so horrible as people…I guess this is where I throw up my hands and say – I DON’T GET IT!  It can’t be both ways.

Some religious people are good (Mother Teresa and Mohandas Gandhi come to mind).  Some religious people are evil (remember your History lessons and the Crusades).  Religion does not make one good.  Lack of religion does not make one evil.  G*d in schools is not going to cure mental illness or turn bad people into good the same way that the absence of religion in schools doesn’t cause mental illness and make good people become evil.  Clearly, it isn’t a simple matter.



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