My musings on different political topics relevant to America today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Separation of Church and State" in Education

The separation of church and state card is perhaps the most arbitrary and stupid card in the game of politics.  It use to simply mean that neither institution, church or state, should control the other.  Now, our interpretation of this phrase has went way too far.  Now, we take separation of church and state to mean suppression of all religious expression in any state controlled or owned enterprise, even when initiated by an individual without the support of the state.  Basically, any religious expression is not permitted in government.  In addition, this has also come to be used as the ultimate trump card to silence any moral argument with which so and so may disagree.  Both uses are a far cry from the original intent of the 1st amendment, and in fact run directly against it.  No where is this more prevalent than in our schools.  It is about time our schools open discussion and stop the censorship of religious ideas.

There is nothing wrong with separation of church
and state, but when it becomes the suppression
of religious expression, there is a problem.
Our schools epitomize this false interpretation of separation of church and state.  Teachers and students are not allowed to talk about religion.  Discussions on religion are almost always prohibited, and guest speakers are not allowed to mention religion either.  All religious discussion is silenced.  Many will say that it must be this way to encourage tolerance and to prevent enforcing one's religious beliefs on others.  However this is not the right way to go about this.  Making religion a taboo topic simply forces everyone into exclusive religious enclaves.  Instead of silencing everyone, everyone should be given a voice.  Everyone should be encouraged to discuss their religious beliefs.  Schools do so with everything else.  They encourage political and moral discourse, but no, never religious discourse.  Yes, the teacher should not favor any religion.  Yes, religions should not be forced on anyone any more than anything else.  Yet I believe that forcing exposure to different religions is important for our development.  Learning about other religious practices and beliefs from members that practice that religion will encourage tolerance.  Learning to have an open dialogue with people of different faiths would help everyone to become more learned, tolerant, and open-minded thinkers.  

Yet we do exactly the opposite.  Our schools silence discussion.  They prevent our children from learning about different faiths and beliefs.  We do not do this with anything else, so why religion? Well I shall tell you why.  There is a hidden agenda.  Our schools desire to mold everyone into one common secular mind.  Many believe that religion is "irrational," and therefore the proliferation of it must be suppressed in schools in favor of rational science.  Tolerance is simply a weapon used to further this goal.  Yet ultimately such school practices have led to more intolerance of religious beliefs and feelings of superiority by the "enlightened" secular free thinking folk.  

In addition, it is funny that our schools treat religion as irrational.  That maybe true, but most of our thinking is ultimately irrational.  What do we base our morals on?  Some would say we rationally deduce our opinions.  Well, lets see if thats true.  Many believe that humans should not be killed if innocent.  Why do they believe that?  There is no "rational" argument for that.  Yes, you can say, "Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you."  However, why shouldn't you?  Why should you care to treat others the way you want to be treated, or don't treat them the way you don't want to be treated?  One can argue self-preservation I suppose.  But then, what if there came an opportunity where you could kill someone without anyone knowing or caring?  Then, is there any reason not to?  Under self-preservation no there isn't.  One could argue that it is necessary for the greater good.  However, what if the greater good was served by killing them?  Then you would have an obligation to kill them. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, this belief is irrational.  There is no logical reason why you should never kill an innocent human life.  Yet most of us believe that.  Most of us believe it is simply wrong to kill an innocent life.  

It is funny he does not mention
the rest of the phrase, which states,
"or prohibiting the free excercise
Many beliefs are like that.  Many ideologies are based off of entirely irrational premises.  They are certainly not scientific, not provable.  In other words, many beliefs and ideologies are just like religions.  They cannot be proven, yet we hold on to them.  Often we will hold onto them fiercely.  Yet morality and philosophy are allowed to be discussed in schools.  Politics are allowed to be discussed in schools.  There is truly no good reason to not allow religious discussion in schools if these other irrational unscientific subjects are allowed.

Some will argue that religion is particularly heinous because it has led to war, genocide, and all sorts of other evils.  Yet picking out religious ideas as somehow more inherently evil than non-religious ideas is ridiculous.  Plenty of death has occurred in the name of secular ideals.  The whole Cold War was fought over economics.  The Soviet Union killed millions of people in the name of Marx's "Scientific Socialism," Nazi Germany killed millions in the name of the psuedo-science of eugenics, and the European imperialist powers waged war during World War 1, leading to the pointless death of millions more, in the name of secular nationalism.  Plenty of people have died in the name of non-religious ideologies and ideals, plenty.

Therefore, it is time schools stopped fearing religious discussion like the plague.  Yes, schools do not have to openly encourage any particular religion, but preventing discussion of religion is harmful to our kids education and will only enable them to see the world through the narrow prism of secularism and through whatever religious beliefs their parents have inculcated in their children.  The world is exploding religiously.  The east is awakening once again to religious beliefs, while the West continues to live in ignorance of this.  The West continues to rub its snobby nose at "irrational" religious ideals, while it continues to point the finger at others for atrocities, though it has no rational scientific reason to care.  The West blindly bases its morals off of ancient religious principles, yet continues to pretend it does not.  It is time to open up discussion of religion in our schools.  Its time to take a phenomenon seriously that is growing around the world, instead of blindly dismissing it.  

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