Religion In Schools – Someone Has To Say It

Many of you will not like what I have to say or agree with me, and that’s alright – and many of you might already have your backs up because you have a pre-conceived notion of what I am about to say. All I ask is that you relax, and open your mind to what I have to say… To put your own beliefs aside for a minute and just try to understand this from someone else’s perspective. You don’t have to agree, but I honestly feel that there is no place for religion in schools and I would like the opportunity to explain why I feel this way…

 

Recently, the Johannesburg High Court in South Africa outlawed single-religion practices in public schools – and while I celebrated, many took to social media to voice their disapproval. Some of the comments I read that downright irritated the shit out of me were:

 

“If you take God out of schools, He will be replaced by something else and things will go wrong – and that is a scary thought”

 

“How will our children learn about morals and good ethics? Religion teaches good morals , teaches caring about others, sharing with others ,respecting others and temperance”

 

“A good day for Satanists, I bet they are all so happy now”

 

“If people don’t want to be part of praying during the assembly put them in another school or don’t let them go to assembly during that time. Now christianity has to keep a low profile so that other religions can have it their way?”

 

“How dare they dictate what we do with our religious beliefs?”

 

These few selected comments echoed hundreds of similar comments, and I truly don’t get it. We are not a religious family, and while we do not practice religion we make a point of it to teach our kids about all the different religions and beliefs in the world – why? One word… TOLERANCE. If I fail at everything else in life, I would succeed if I knew that I brought my kids up to be tolerant of others, to be open-minded and to love people regardless of their religion or skin colour. Our kids will be able to make an informed decision about what they believe when they are older, and we will support them with whatever they decide. Do you know how hard it is to follow through on this when your child is forced to participate in a single religion activities at schools? When they are told that Christianity is the only true religion, and that their parents will go to hell if they don’t believe in God, pray and go to church? And don’t tell me that it doesn’t happen, it’s happened to my daughter more than once. Telling a 5-year old that her parents are going to hell for not believing, or for having tattoos does not make you a crusader of Christ by the way, it makes you an asshole.

 

I also feel like my eyes are going to roll back in my head and I might have a seizure from the severance of said eye rolling every time someone asks how our kids will learn about morals and ethics if there is no religion taught. The whole “follow these 10 commandments or burn in hell for all eternity” is not the only way to raise good, moral and ethical children – it’s called good parenting.

 

Religious beliefs are a private question: schooling is a matter of public policy; the two should be kept separate. It is increasingly important that we learn to respect and show empathy toward other cultures and to understand their beliefs and ways of doing things. We live in one of the most diverse countries in the world, we need to work towards unity and the only way to do that is to truly understand and respect each other. A school is the perfect place to teach tolerance and acceptance, it was designed to be a place of teaching and learning after all.

 

Teach children how to think, not what to think.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Religion In Schools – Someone Has To Say It

  1. Mat says:

    Best article ever and i fully agree with you, having religion in school causes rifts between the children and does not promote any sort of unity.

  2. Candice says:

    A thousand times YES!! And a difficulty for me is that we are seriously considering sending our child to a private Catholic school, because of the level of education that he will receive there. I will have to learn to live with the judgment of 1000 nuns.

  3. Sharon Atkins says:

    Great article and yes agree with you. Who says that one religion is better than another.
    Parents teach kids by how we live our lives and what we do day by day,
    You can embrace your religion at home and at weekends.
    Our school is non- denominational and teaches true values of love, respect, acknowledgment,
    tolerance and acceptance.
    I send my son off to school with prayers and messages of love and light.

  4. Bronwyn says:

    1000% agree. however, I also think religious instruction in schools could a long way to towards teaching children (and possibly even their parents) about different religions/ beliefs/ practices; like theology, on a simpler scale. So teach about all religions, not that one in particular is the only one that counts. intolerance often comes from ignorance; teach, don’t preach.

  5. Estelle says:

    Please allow me to respond to your opening statement ‘I honestly feel there is no place for religion in schools.’
    I believe that children must be taught about religion because there is no place in this world you can go where there is no religion – just look at the greatest works of art and architecture that are homages to religion. There must be space for religious education not religious indoctrination. What I do agree with is that there must not be one dominating religion that students are forced to practice because it is not the schools duty to tell pupils wjo theu should or should not worship. However, If they want to pray, they should be allowed the space to do that in private if that is what they believe but not where everyone is forced to comply, and not be fearful of doing so freely. Or feel that being religious is something to be ashamed or embarrassed about and open our kids up to a new kind of victimisation.
    There are many views and your view may not work for others amd thata whu debate and sharing our ideas and opinions amd educating each other about our differences is part of a healthy and normal society. If someone is an atheist does that now mean that I also have to conform to their belief or non-belief system in their presence because it makes them comfortable when it is completely out of my comfort zone? The constitution allows for freedoms of religion, any religion, and when we try to tamper with constitutional rights that’s when things become complicated.
    The extreme is Communist China as I’ve read in many articles like the link below where religion is all but banned http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6599722So we must be careful of how we approach this. Next we know there will be someone with good intentions calling for the banning of Christmas carols being played in shopping malls, and mosques making too much noise at prayer times – and these could very well be people with no religion – so in essence the problem is not religion but people. Do we ban religion in schools to a point where a child is persecuted because they talk to their friend about their belief in Krishna, Buddha, Jesus? Tolerance comes with understanding and education. And sadly I’ve come across the most intolerant and disrespectful atheists in my time who treat people so badly and then jokingly ‘apologise’ by saying ‘oh well I guess I’m going to hell then aren’t i’. But i guess its easy to blame religion for division, hatred, etc.. I blame people Not what the believe or don’t believe. I think it’s important for kids to learn about religion to give them a better understanding of the diversity in the world but that they should not be told what to believe or not to believe. That whatever they choose they should do so freely without fear or persecution.
    My religion is love (and I happen to be a Christian) because I believe that the greatest commandment is that we love one another as we love ourselves.
    Is there a one-size-fits-all solution for education in our country and will a blanket ban of religion in schools make everything right?
    Namaste

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