Public School Teachers Are Not Religious Experts
Recently, in the news in the LA school district, teachers are forcing students to participate in a three-week long journey to discover Islam. Not just about Islam’s history and culture. This course is about being a Muslim. For three weeks, children are asked to dress as Muslims, change their names to Muslim names, memorize verses from the Koran, and make Islamic faith declarations (IVN, 2016). Where they visit a mosque, wear Muslim clothes, and engage in pray to Allah, to fully understand what it’s like to practice Islam. This is a complete violation of the first amendment. There is a lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that students spent only one-day studying Christianity and two weeks studying Islam (Starnes, 2016). The First Amendment forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals. The relationship between religion and government in the United States is governed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which both prevents the government from establishing religion and protects privately initiated religious expression and activities from government interference and discrimination (US Dept. of Ed., 2016). Religion should not overflow into the government funded education. According to Olivia Godfrey “many public school officials do not know enough about other religions beside their own, and lastly, teaching children about every religion is simply impossible” (Godfrey, 2013). Furthermore, according the article written by Charles C. Haynes states, “Despite the recent increase in study about religion in schools, many Americans still have little or no knowledge about religions other than their own—and even that knowledge is often thin” (Haynes, 2011).
Can Teachers Be Trusted to Be Unbiased Towards Religion?
The real question we must consider whether typical public school teachers-particularly teachers at the lower lever-can truly be trusted to be objective about “teaching” religion? According to Annie Laurie Gaylor, the president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation states, “We handle more than 2,000 complaints a year by members of the public concerned about violations of the separation between church and state, and the vast majority of these concern violations in our public schools” (Gaylor, 2014). In summary, no. Teachers cannot be trusted to be unbiased towards religion.
Separation Between Church and State
The main point is that religion should be for the church and home, not for the public school system. Indeed, religion is a major part of America, but there should be a fine line between church and state and this is where this line should be drawn: between religion and education (Gaylor, 2014). Not only is the a constitutionally protected right but, it also server to protect American against favoritism towards any one religion. The first Amendment prevents the government from officially recognizing or favoring any religion.
Diversity Mean Nothing Without Decency
To address the concerns on diversity, I believe diversity is a good thing. But, diversity if meaningless unless those people are also descent. Ben Shapiro, the Editor in Chief of the Daily Wire, spoke at Yale University recently said, “Racial diversity doesn’t mean anything. Decency means something. Diversity isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t a good thing unless the people who are racially diverse are also decent. Diversity isn’t a bad thing unless the people who are racially diverse are indecent. This is not a difficult thing; diversity isn’t our strength. Decency is our strength.” This point illustrates why being religiously diverse means nothing unless you are also decent. Shared values, such as the constitution and the golden rule are the backbone on society. I don’t have to care about you, and you don’t have to care about me. Unless, you are going to infringe upon another’s rights, that’s when the government should step in, not before. They should not be teaching morals and religion in schools. That is the right of the parent.
Religion in Private Schools
Education is primarily a State and local responsibility in the United States (US Dept. of Ed., 2016). The Supreme court has help the stance on the First Amendment that requires public schools to be neutral towards their treatment of religion, showing not favoritism. However, if you wish to have teachers including religion in their curriculum, then send your kids to Private Schools. My wife went to Private Schools her whole life, and I did not. Which is why I am a huge advocate for religion being taught in private schools. Why? Because of the free market. If I don’t like what is being taught by the teachers then, I am free to peruse another school that aligns with my religious beliefs or the lack there of. Let’s say I’m an atheist. Why would I want my child learning about other religions when I’m fundamentally against religion? In the same light, if I want my child to learn about Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, etc. I have the choice to send my child to a private institution based on those beliefs. Furthermore, I can enhance their experience by also teaching these beliefs and other beliefs at home. They will have a solid foundation in their beliefs but, also be tolerant to others that disagree. Isn’t that the original point, tolerance?
Godfrey, Olivia (2013). Why Religion Should Not Be Taught in Public Schools – Olivia Godfrey. Retrieved from: http://knightlyherald.com/why-religion-should-not-be-taught-in-public-schools-olivia-godfrey/
Gaylor, A. L. (2014). The Dangers of Religious Instruction in Public Schools. Religion & Politics: Fit for Polite Company. Retrieved from: http://religionandpolitics.org/2014/01/07/the-dangers-of-religious-instruction-in-public-schools/
Haynes, Charles C. “Getting Religion Right in Public Schools.” Phi Delta Kappan 93.4 (2011). 8-14. 12 February 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.avl.lib.al.us/resources/display_resources.php
Israel Video Network (2016). LA Public School Teaching Kids “Allah is the One True God.” Retrieved from http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/la-public-school-teaching-kids-allah-is-the-one-true-god/
Starnes, T. (2016). Lawsuit: Public school forced my child to convert to Islam. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/01/29/lawsuit-public-school-forced-my-child-to-convert-to-islam.html
US Department of Education (2016). Religion in Public Schools. Retrieved from: https://answers.ed.gov/link/portal/28022/28025/Article/686/Religion-in-public-schools
US Department of Education (2016). The Federal Role in Education. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/role.html