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Religion in Schools

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Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea

25 posted 12-04-2002 01:16 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

As a part of history, perhaps a cursory overview of the world's various religions, and how they each have impacted history would be valuable, if it could be done in such a way as not to endorse one over another in the classroom setting.

You therefore privilege Christianity because of it's larger impact on American society. I'm not criticizing this, that's what I want.

But then, of course, the question comes to mind, who decides which version of history?

That's what historians do.

Each country, culture and religion seems to have their own version. How does one actually arrive at a completely objective historical interpretation? Is that even possible?

It's neither possible nor desirable. An objective history would be a chronology with no regard to significance. We want bias in our histories.

As an aside, History is not even taught anymore in Philadelphia in the public schools. It was replaced about 25 years ago with Social Studies.  I remember taking my girls, when they were in grade school, to a large suburban mall nearby where a huge relief of Washington Crossing the Delaware was on display. They had no idea who he was or why he was in the boat crossing the Delaware River. I had mistakenly assumed that they were learning history in Social Studies. As they never had books to bring home (supposedly because the Philadelphia School District couldn't afford to buy books for each child and they just shared what books they did have in class), I really had no way of knowing what they were being taught or not being taught). So, whatever history they do know, I taught them. To this day the subject of history is still not being taught in Philadelphia public schools. I wonder if this is the rule or the exception across the United States.

As a further aside, an English chap here related a story while he was in San Francisco:

British guy: Yeah, we're thinking of driving up the coast, up to British Columbia.

American guy: Uh huh,

British guy: You know, in Canada.

American guy: Where's Canada?

Another thought comes to mind, how does one monitor the lessons to insure that particular teachers are not setting forth their own particular beliefs as dogma? What types of safe-guards would be set in place to insure that one religion is not proffered above another in a public school classroom setting?

Let the teacher show his or her bias. They are going to anyway. To think otherwise is to imagine an objective history.  

How would this impact the separation of Church and State issue?

Instead of implementing this in the schools, why don't the schools try to show why we talk about this all the time. Historicise it.
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since 08-10-2002
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Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada

26 posted 12-04-2002 01:49 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I think there must be a firm and approved outline by the public and board instituted to ensure a model for a basis to build upon where a general "rule" to govern the teachers attitude "conduct" will also have to stand.
If there is bias impressing notions into the students,  this vacates the intent of religious studies.  For ultimatly such a class, I believe, should be for a clean understanding, where they may observe life religions with as much an open mind as possible, and the sucess of this will be determined a lot in the teachers demonstrations and attitude.  
Teachers well-disposed and established in religion and teaching to the substance, should be the only ones trusted to convey religious studies.  We can only judge people from opinion and hope they will uphold a good one.  If they are teachers of good established respect, than there is no reason a system shouldn't trust them as any other teacher whom we put faith in to help guide our youth.  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (12-04-2002 03:00 AM).]

since 04-08-2001
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27 posted 12-04-2002 06:34 AM       View Profile for furlong   Email furlong   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for furlong

Why did I assume you had read it!

And his latest: "Genius"?

Oh, and of course I agree that an awareness (perhaps even an appreciation) of Western tradition/canon is desirable mostly for the reasons you give.  What I object to is a teaching approach which (at an early stage) elevates it to a status where it stifles broader thought.  As a matter of fact I think Bloom comes close to doing that.
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Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash

28 posted 12-04-2002 08:30 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder


Regarding the Constitutional Establishment Clause issues, the following summarizes the tests the US Supreme Court has established to determine whether or not the practices of a governmental body are consistent with the US Constitution:

The Lemon Test

Based on the 1971 case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13, the Court will rule a practice unconstitutional if:

  • It lacks any secular purpose. That is, if the practice lacks any non-religious purpose.

  • The practice either promotes or inhibits religion.

  • Or the practice excessively (in the Court's opinion) involves government with a religion.

    The Coercion Test

  • Based on the 1992 case of Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 the religious practice is examined to see to what extent, if any, pressure is applied to force or coerce individuals to participate.

  • The Court has defined that "Unconstitutional coercion occurs when: (1) the government directs (2) a formal religious exercise (3) in such a way as to oblige the participation of objectors."

    The Endorsement Test

  • Finally, drawing from the 1989 case of Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, the practice is examined to see if it unconstitutionally endorses religion by conveying "a message that religion is 'favored,' 'preferred,' or 'promoted' over other beliefs."

    I think the third test would be most difficult to reconcile with your opinion (which I agree with, by the way).  But then again, I think Allegheny is not necessarily good law because it doesn't seem to consider the disproportionate impact Christianity has had on Western civilization over other world religions.

    Just thought you might be interested.


  • GG
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    Lost in thought

    29 posted 12-08-2002 07:15 AM       View Profile for GG   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for GG

    Christianity is; in its true and pure form: a personal, saving relationship with Christ Jesus.

    I despise religeon for it hinders people from a relationship. I myself am a ninth grade student, in an English class I am in I recently read the poem by Joyce something or the other, that ends "poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree."
    ..well that struck huge debate and I believe it was handled well. the students were able to discuss religeous and spiritual issues, but the teacher was not allowed to teach his views.

    A teacher teaching Christianity would be presenting THEIR VEIW of it.. thats why Christians leave churches sometimes because they don't agree with a pastor, people view things differently! It would be nonsensical.
    Thats my bit

    Always, God's Girl

    - And so it was that time stood still -

    [This message has been edited by GG (12-08-2002 08:01 AM).]

    Local Rebel
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    since 12-21-1999
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    Southern Abstentia

    30 posted 12-08-2002 01:28 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

    Thanks for the litmus lesson Jim... it should be handy here.

    As subject the TC belongs in history and lit -- probably even sociology and perhaps psychology.

    The chap factor for me involving the dogma side is the (usually do-gooder conservative hypocrites who hang out with hookers in hotel rooms) proponents are really saying 'other' kids need this -- not their own -- none of them would say their own kids aren't getting an unhealthy dose of dogma at home and at church on sunday....

    Agree with Ron -- college will be (particularly those kids) the first chance and maybe only to think for themselves (provided they don't say what they think to the extremely liberally dominated university system)
    Member Ascendant
    since 08-20-99
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    Jejudo, South Korea

    31 posted 12-08-2002 07:45 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

    We spend so much time worrying about the establisment issue that high school becomes as useless as, well, high school students think it is.

    Why wait for college?

    I know in high school, I kept thinking, yeah, but what's really going on in this field.



    Jejudo, South Korea

    32 posted 12-11-2002 08:23 PM       Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Jaime

    To me, all of the religions are linked in some form or another. I am spiritual however I do not follow any organized religions... I do think it's important to study them though since they are such a huge factor in our culture.

    We had a World Religions class, which I wanted to take (I'm a senior in high school), but there weren't enough students signed up. I think that's the best way to go about it. In a historical sense, which brings it back to it's standing point in our culture today. I think that encourages students to make their own opinion about religion.

    Life is where you look for it.

    [This message has been edited by Jaime (12-11-2002 08:25 PM).]

    Member Elite
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    Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada

    33 posted 12-12-2002 01:52 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

    I would not like to see religion seperated in a history class though.  If there is just going to be a brief chapter called "Religion" that puts points about religions in short highlights and jot notes that is really not worth it--students deserve an understanding, not a group of things that would only be a vagueness.  Perhaps if they had a philosophy course as well, that asked for a prerequisite of taking religion at the same time people would enroll in relgious studies more because I think a philosophy course would work very well in high schools.

    [This message has been edited by Essorant (12-12-2002 01:54 AM).]

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