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Full Version: I Demand The God Delusion Be Taught In Texas's Public Schools
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Yannick
Because of the profound impact that it has had on our history and our government..

Well.. maybe not. But come on, this is totally just another way to sneak creationism into schools. D: D: D: I at least want the equivalent alternative.

http://www.kltv.com/global/story.asp?s=10933571
pgrmdave
What bothers me is that there are very legitimate reasons to read and understand the bible, not the least of which is to understand a ton of references. I didn't think I knew much about the bible until I started watching Lost with one of my friends and pointed out that it's heavily steeped in christian imagery, which she didn't notice at all, not having ever really learned much about it.

Some great literature can only really be best understood when you understand the culture behind it, including the bible, but...that's not what's going to happen.

What's going to happen is that the teachers, who will be confused by the state's order, will teach what the bible says, rather than teaching it as a piece of literature. Rather than using it as a tool for learning, it will be a tool for preaching with a thin veil of learning over it.
Daria
Schools should teach about religion- not teach religion itself.
Pikasyuu
And since you obviously cannot pick one religion specifically to teach about, would you determine the time and depth spent on studying each religion based on what percentage of the world practices it?
Yannick
Funnily enough, I started reading Monkey Girl this morning (randomly grabbed off of a friend's bookshelf because I needed to waste some time). Only three chapters in, but wasn't this pretty much declared unconstitutional? I'm totally fine with schools revealing how religion has influenced cultures, politics, movements (Manifest Destiny comes to mind), etc., but a law being passed requiring all public schools to have Bible courses (whether mandatory or not) is not right. Either enroll your kid in a religious school, or keep the religion at home and in churches. Hell, I'll be pretty pissed if I found out my tax money (well, in the future) was paying for Bibles. And hey, I wasn't joking. If they're going to do this, I want my atheism class. Throw in some Islam stuff too for all I care.

Eh, I can appreciate the world enough without understanding all the biblical references.
Faerieryn
All Uk schools are required to teach Religious Education/ Studies. The law also states that students have to take part in daily worship. In today's society when not everyone is of the same faith this becomes a problem. RE tends to be taught more as an ethics class in most schools these days with all faiths being given an equal proportion. Of course this depends on the teacher. In our school we have an ex nun, a muslim woman and an atheist/ anachist teaching RE. As far as the daily worship goes we tend to have discussions based on current affairs that we can then discuss from different faith's perspectives. That is the theory anyway! Assemblies wrok well at this because we can have someone who knows what they are talking about doing it. In form, I know that I have no clue as to what to say, and I'm sure the other form tutors feel the same way- I make it very clear where my bias lies when discussing faith etc before leaping head first into a conversation about morality, religion etc.
In all honesty I find it hard to believe that a teacher who studies a religion personally can give all faiths equal merit- if you know more about one faith and you believe in it you will naturally bend your teaching in its favour. In my subject I avoid Dickens because I think he is stuck up his own arse, so it makes sense that an RE teacher will avoid teaching things they don't believe in as much as they can-we had a situation at our school a few years ago when one of our year 10s got pregnant. All of her friends were so supportive "We'll support you if you keep it". None of them said "We'll support you if you have a termination" When no faith supports a woman's right to decide what happens to her body, topics like abortion become very one sided and if you know all of your friends have said that they will stand by you if you keep the baby you do not want to be branded a baby killer. Religion in schools is difficult. As the article says, religion affects culturte. If you want to to understand culture you need to understand the religion/s that influenced it. It is when people start pushing their views on other people there is a problem. And this includes faith schools too. Many children go to faith schools in the UK because they have better grades etc, without being of the faith the school is centred around.
I_am_the_best
I am very happy, despite being an agnostic Jew, to be taught about Christianity in school. England is an essentially Christian country, and it plays an integral part in its history, culture and the ethics of the legal system. The Bible has some really useful material for teaching children basic ethics through Jesus' parables (e.g. The Good Samaritan) accompanied with 'catchphrases' (e.g. "love your neighbour as you love yourself"). And whether you believe it or not, it's certainly an enjoyable, thought-provoking read!

With regard to teaching all religions equally, I don't think that this should, or does happen in England. I have always studied more Christianity, and quite rightly so considering the impact it has had on England. Then came Judaism because it essentially formed the basis for Christianity, but now I find it's been tipped to Islam. At GCSE level, most schools teach Christianity (compulsory) with one other religion, and at almost all schools I know, Islam was the second religion. I think that this is because of all the negative media coverage Islam is getting, that it's important to clarify that Islam isn't a violent religion encouraging terrorist attacks. Asian religions seem to get slightly forgotten...

At my primary school we prayed every day and sang hymns, and at my current school we pray and sing hymns on Mondays and Fridays and sing Latin Prayers on Wednesdays. You might call it forcing religion down our throats, I honestly couldn't care less. Does it cause me any offence or problems? No. The hymns are quite enjoyable, I'm happy to respect people who want to pray and Latin prayers are quite a nice tradition. It is important not to teach religious belief as scientific discovery, but children also need to learn about religion as a suitable base of ethics and a lovely tradition, whether they choose to believe or not.
Yannick
But can you refuse to pray and sing?

Thinking back, I spent a lot of my youth at the YMCA camps, and we sang a song in the morning (non-religious, just funny ones) and then another one for grace (a bit more religious). I just sang along with everyone else at the time because I didn't really care, but one day during lunch this kid wouldn't sing, so one of the counselors was like "<name>, we're waiting for you. smile.gif", and he said something about how his mom told him to stand politely but not participate because it wasn't part of his religion. I can't remember how it was resolved (got distracted with sticks or something), but I think they made him sing and then told him they'd talk to his mom about it afterwards.

..But that was camp and not school. So, kinda different.
Daria
In my primary school, it was acceptable to not sing but you were expected to stand/ sit quietly and respect the want of others to sing.
Pikasyuu
The Bible has some really useful material for teaching children basic ethics through Jesus' parables (e.g. The Good Samaritan) accompanied with 'catchphrases' (e.g. "love your neighbour as you love yourself"). And whether you believe it or not, it's certainly an enjoyable, thought-provoking read!

so do many other religions.
i'm not discounting Christianity's impact on culture, but why does that mean we're allowed to discount the impact of, say, Buddhism on culture? bringing religion into any school system, regardless of which religion, is a terrible idea.
CommieBastard
How many of these schools are going to teach the Koran, then? Because the influence of Islam on the world's history - not to mention current affais - is massive. I'm sure this sh*t is unconstitutional.
Yannick
I'm wondering if they're choosing the Bible because some moron Republican out there still believes the US was founded on Christian principles? Because it totally wasn't, the founding fathers were primarily deists, escaping religious prosecution. Hence the separation of church and state, so what up with that always being ignored?

You don't need to make Bibles readily available in schools to show the effect the book has had on our culture. If they're actually going to teach it, it doesn't need to be read. A synopsis will do.
Faerieryn
Anyone fancy finding some one page synopsese(sp?) of religious texts? Cos they've gotta be hilarious!! Cliff notes on the Koran? Surely that would be heresy!!!!
The reason people tend to lean towards the bible is that ( I feel) it is a religious text that you do not need to learn another language to read- I know you can get translations of the torah and the koran but there are some that believe that translations are not right. Schools in the UK do look at other religious texts but as a English speaking country surely it makes sense to use the bible over other texts that require the study of a seperate religious language?

And I disagree that you don't need to read a book to discuss its effect on culture. I teach literature and I have taught texts without reading them the students never completely get the ideas until they've read an experienced them for themselves.

As far as the comments regarding teaching of asian religions I know my sister studied Hinduism and Buhddism quite extensively for her GCSE. I know that different boards do things differently. Our school RE curriculum is focussed on ethical and moral arguments that are then studied from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddist and Aethiest perspectives fairly equally.
Daria
"The reason people tend to lean towards the bible is that ( I feel) it is a religious text that you do not need to learn another language to read- I know you can get translations of the torah and the koran but there are some that believe that translations are not right."

It's only because we have become acustomed to the translated versions of the bible that we don't read it in Ancient Hebrew. Something is obviously going to be lost in translation... but it's going to be lost over hundreds of years as well.

Personally, I never once picked up a bible in my scholastic career- and I went to a CoE primary and a highschool that leant towards CoE. My home background wasn't Christian- neither was my RS teacher- and I got an A in my Religious Studies GCSE which seemed to be geared towards a knowledge in Christian belief.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: you can learn about a religion without reading its texts. I don't believe "bible study" should be a needful aspect of a child's in-school education, and I really don't believe that religion should be taught in schools. About religion- sure. It helps you to understand different people that you will come across in life. We had no students other than white, vaguely CoE, at school and so learning about Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism etc was an incredible insight into the lives of other people in the country and in the world.
CrazyFooIAintGettinOnNoPlane
QUOTE (I_am_the_best @ Aug 18 2009, 01:21 PM) *
I am very happy, despite being an agnostic Jew, to be taught about Christianity in school. England is an essentially Christian country, and it plays an integral part in its history, culture and the ethics of the legal system. The Bible has some really useful material for teaching children basic ethics through Jesus' parables (e.g. The Good Samaritan) accompanied with 'catchphrases' (e.g. "love your neighbour as you love yourself"). And whether you believe it or not, it's certainly an enjoyable, thought-provoking read!
So? Lots of books have positive messages, why should this particular one get special treatment?

When I was in school I thought RE was a pointless waste of my time. Looking back I see that studying religion has its benefits, such as promoting understanding of different belief systems, but I think that having a class devoted entirely to it is unnecessary. I think you would learn a lot more studying religion from a historical perspective than the simple "religion A teaches X; religion B teaches Y" stuff we had to learn for GCSE. In my experience it was focused completely on Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and treated each of them as completely homogeneous groups which all believed the same thing. The syllabus covered some interesting topics like abortion and euthanasia, but there was no room for discussion; all we learnt was that organised religion believes life is sacred bla bla bla.
Daria
Did you watch that film with the Crips and the Bloods and God Loves You Nicky Cruz? Something to do with cocaine or heroin or something.
Pixelgoth
I didn't know that witchcraft actually existed outsides of fairy tales until I was 25! I put this down to my Christian upbringing both outside and inside school. I didn't even know other faiths existed until I studied them at university when I was 19. I think we should be given the right to choose what faiths we learn about. I remember being at school and one boy, who was a JW, got to be excluded from assembly and any Xmas stuff. I remember wondering why but never questionining it. Perhaps I should have questioned more instead of following blind faith?!?
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