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Get The Religion Out Of Schools

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Public school students subjected to religious education are not only having their right to learn impeded on, but also their Constitutional right to freely choose whichever religion they want to follow. Religion is a set of beliefs explaining how the universe came to be, not based on empirical evidence. Religious education in public schools works against justice. Justice can be defined as fair and equal treatment for everyone.

Religious education in public schools works against justice and causes nothing but problems. According to www.religioutollerance.org, there are 19 major world religions that can be sub-divided into 270 large religious groups and many smaller groups. There is also a large Atheist and Agnostic population in the world that does not follow any organized religions. With all of the vast possible religions in the world for people to choose from, there is no way any school could honor every single one of them. To teach only a few or just one religion violates the right to religious freedom guaranteed to us by the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and discriminates against students of opposing faiths. For example, it would not be fair for a Muslim to be forced to study Christianity in school because it contradicts their beliefs. This is just one example of how religion in public schools works against justice.
In addition to discrimination, another way religious education in public schools works against justice is by teaching information that contradicts the field of science. Teaching religion in public schools misinforms students of scientific facts, giving them a contorted view of reality. Religion is based off of ideology, mythology, and opinions not supported by verifiable empirical data. Teaching a religious theory such as Creation in public schools misinforms students of what empirical evidence shows us actually happened. This works against justice because if students are taught that a God created the world, they are not getting a fair chance to learn the way science explains the origins of life. The theory of evolution, first written about by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species, should be taught in public schools because it is based on sound scientific empirical evidence. It can be proven to be true. Only the things that we can prove to be true have a place in public school education. Teaching students concepts not supported by scientific facts like that God causes it to rain will lead students to having contorted ideas of reality.

A common argument made by supporters of religion being taught in public schools is that without religion being taught, students will not develop a good set of moral values. People who make this argument rarely define what they mean by morals, since morals can be subjective to everyone. For our purposes, I will define moral values as the willingness to do good deeds and to not cause harm to others. While I agree that teaching students moral lessons is definitely a good thing, it is simply not the job of schools. The job of public schools is to educate the youth about subjects such as history, grammar, science, and mathematics. However, if a school does choose to teach their students morals, there are plenty of secular ways to do it without involving religion. For example, there are lots of stories and parables not based in religion that can teach students good ethics much better than religious stories.
Students will also learn morals and acceptable social behavior simply from the social interaction they get from attending public schools. When students interact, if one student is rude or disrespectful to others, either getting a negative reaction from his peers or being reprimanded by an authority figure at the school will serve as his punishment. A psychology principle routed in fact known as Operant Conditioning illustrates to us that when good behaviors are rewarded, they will be repeated, and when bad behaviors are punished, they either become extinct or less likely to be repeated. If a student is continually rude and disrespectful and is continually punished by receiving negative reactions from peers or by authority figures, they will eventually learn not to repeat the bad, socially unacceptable action. This is a more functional and healthy way of learning moral values and social skills than from ideologies with no route in reality.
Another common argument supporting religious beliefs in public schools is the false pretense that worship in school will make the school systems better. Religion is a personal choice, and while all religions deserve an equal amount of respect, prayer and worship in school just simply has no track record of successfully improving schools. In fact, there are statistics showing quite the contrary. Texas is known for being a very conservative Christian state, religion has been taught in public schools there for decades. The Texas Board of Education now requires Christianity to be taught in public schools. According to www.dallasnews.com, the Texas Board of Education even rejected a proposal to educate their students about the freedom of religion. Considering Christianity has been taught in schools across Texas for decades, their state statistics are surprisingly low. Texas ranks 47th in the U.S. for SAT scores, 50th for the percentage of adults over 25 with a high school diploma, 43rd for the amount of women registered to vote, 49th for women turning out to vote, 1st for being the state with the most uninsured children, and 1st for the highest state population without health insurance in the United States. These statistics show that religion in public schools has no effect on the quality of education and life in general of a school’s students.
Teaching religion in public schools is unjust. It is unjust because whenever a public school is teaching religion; there will always be other religious groups discriminated against. It is also unfair to students to use religious beliefs routed in ideology to explain phenomena with scientifically proven explanations. One does not have to be religious to be a good, moral person. Healthy moral values can come from many places besides religion. Choosing a religion to follow is a very personal decision, and not something that should be forced upon an individual. Based on my arguments, I believe that religious education in schools works against justice.




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savetheplanet said...
Jan. 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm:
So I agree with you to a certain extent. I don't believe creationism should be taught in schools. But I'm not quite sure what you mean by religious studies. Overly intrusive religious studies like the ones in Texas that prohibit freedom of religion I think are bad. However, learning about religion is not necessarily bad. In my Non-Western Cultures class freshman year, we learned about the 5 major religions, Juda.ism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It was not taught in a way t... (more »)
 
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