Religion Belongs in Public Schools

I recently joined a new cause on Facebook when one of my newer friends sent me a “cause request.” I ignore a lot of them, but this one, I didn’t. I joined “Put Christ Back Into Public Schools.” I even did my Christian duty by inviting every single one of my over 150 Facebook friends to join the cause as well. My Christian friends might be shouting “yay!” at this point; but don’t jump the gun.

Less than a week later, I removed my membership from the new cause, and joined a different one: “Respectful Dissent: Put Christ Back Into Schools?” I might have left the original cause alone, and stayed with Christ in public schools, but I doubt it since my daughter is one of my Facebook friends, and she quickly reminded me that I had raised her with a strong respect for freedom of choice. While she believes in Christ as well, there was no way that she was going to join the cause because she believes that her Christian mother raised her right.

I don’t just believe in Christ, I try to live my life in the same way that Jesus did. Jesus exhibited tolerance and patience for all that he came in contact with. Jesus did not discriminate between Jews and Gentiles, nor did he judge those who publicly opposed and persecuted him. If I am going to live a Christ-like life, then I need to show that same tolerance, patience and forgiveness that Jesus did.

I do believe that separation of church and state has been taken too far. The founders of this great nation believed in God, and it was they who established the constitutional concept of freedom of religion. They did not discriminate, because they were tired of being discriminated against. Prayer in schools, and the teaching of religion have, in the past been centered on Christianity, and have ignored other facets of belief amongst the population, including atheism. That was fine two hundred years ago because the population was Christian, and those who weren’t had the option of keeping their children at home.

When I put my name on the cause “put Christ back in public schools” it was with the assumption and intent that the group was pushing for allowance of personal worship within the system. Perhaps a time set a side for personal reflection or prayer, as well as cultural studies of the bible and other culturally specific scripture such as the Torah, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon. Our public school system is not set up for that, and unfortunately it is also not liberal enough to accept it.

I was raised by my good Mormon parents to carefully study all facets of religion so that I could make a wise and informed choice. Keeping religious studies out of public schools keeps people in the dark and encourages narrow-mindedness, but teaching only Christianity in the public schools is equally narrow-minded and discriminatory. It raises children with the same mentality that existed in the dark ages where the spread of Christianity was done by the sword. “If you are not with us, you are against us” is an extremely unchristian ideology, and I won’t be a part of it.

Yes, Christ belongs in public schools. But so do Mohamed, Buddha, Moses, and Paganism. These things should be taught respectfully and objectively, allowing for personal and family beliefs to exist as part of the diversity of thought. A wise and informed choice does not occur when people are oblivious to other realities.

Religion belongs in public schools as a moment of silence encouraging thought, reflection, and silent prayer, if that is what the student chooses. Religion belongs in public schools as a cultural unit of study within the social sciences. Religion belongs in public schools as a section of released time for the students to participate in study of the religion of their choice taught by qualified religious leaders. Religion does not belong in public schools as a governing source for the curriculum, and I won’t be a part of it.

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