Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"They" live among us. Do we know "Them"?

Sometimes Religion and School should mix

Religion should be separated from our government.   Our students should be taught about religion in our schools.  I strongly support both of these statements.  And they are not inconsistent with each other.
Religion should never be a test of who can hold office, vote in an election or any other government function.  Although there are some states that do not allow atheists to hold office.   I am waiting for a legal challenge to that position.
Our country is becoming increasingly diverse regarding ethnicity, religion and race.  That situation has the potential to incredibly enrich our society.  It also has the potential to allow ignorance of each other to foster more discrimination and even violence.  As always the sworn enemy of ignorance is education.
Our schools already teach about events that are based in religion.  We teach about the Reformation and the Scopes Monkey Trial.  We teach about WWII and the evolution of anti-Semitism.  Our students see women on the street with covered heads or bodies and some ask why, what is wrong with them.  We need to answer.  The media can portray Christianity as being represented by the Westboro group that protests at the funerals of American service members.  Do we paint all Christians with this brush?  But Christianity is, at present, a majority faith so we know that these actions are not representative of Christianity. 
The media would have us believe that Muslims are carrying out terrorist attacks all over our country.  When in fact most of the mass shootings have been committed by non-Muslims.  At this time Islam is a minority faith so most of our students do not know that these behaviors are not representative and that Islam is a peaceful faith as is Christianity and Judaism.
Americans must learn about each other. And what better place is there to do this than in our schools?  America has from the beginning been a beacon of light to those who are seeking a better life.  But if we are all going to live together, and there are few options, then we must know about each other.  Our schools have as their first commandment in a democracy to create an educated electorate.  We cannot meet that responsibility if we do not know about the “they” who live among us.

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