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Old 17 June 2013, 08:19 PM
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Icon215 School prayer: 50 years after the ban, God and faith more present than ever

School prayer was banned by the US Supreme Court 50 years ago, but there is probably more presence of religion in public school environments through club ministries, classes, after-school and interfaith programs, and faith-based services than ever.

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture...sent-than-ever
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Old 17 June 2013, 08:49 PM
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Yup, there's still blatant promotion of Christianity in the public education system on a broad level.
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Old 17 June 2013, 09:25 PM
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And yet, this Supreme Court decision gets whined about by any number of people who:

1) believe that it caused a decline in American education;
2) believe it caused a decline in morality, marriage, and church-going;
3) believe it marks the beginning of an ascendant atheism in our public life.

I was just glad I didn't have to pray every morning at school. I never missed it at all.

YMMV, of course.

Ali
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Old 18 June 2013, 12:10 AM
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And Campus Crusade for Christ, founded in 1951 as a Christian ministry to college students in California and now known as Cru, has helped high school students start some 200 Christian clubs, almost all of them in public schools.
I'm not going to share any personal anecdotes--I don't want to lose my temper--but I will say I sympathize with anyone who doesn't share their worldview and has or had to deal with them.
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the Christians struggle with how to evangelize without being obnoxious or coming across as superior.
To be charitable, I have little doubt someone could evangelize without being superior or obnoxious. However, in my experience not many school kids could or would do so.
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In fact, Mr. [Mike] Waggoner and other observers of religion in education say they believe that student-led groups often begin at the instigation of a parent, youth pastor, imam, rabbi, or member of a number of evangelical Christian organizations that regard public schools as their mission field.
I'd be very surprised if any of these "student" groups were instigated by students. When I was in junior high and high school in the 70s all of these so-called student groups were lead by adults. Unlike the OP, however, there were all run by evangelical protestants--other religious views were complete absent.
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Analyzing the 2011-12 curricula of Bible classes taught in 57 school districts in Texas, however, he [Mark Chancey] found this nuance lost in all but 11. Commissioned by the Texas Freedom Network, Chancey's study also reports that when sectarian bias occurred, it favored views associated with conservative forms of Protestantism.
No surprise.

Brian
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Old 18 June 2013, 03:22 AM
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I'm curious to hear how parents (especially parents who aren't Christian) deal with this issue. What do you tell your kids?
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Old 18 June 2013, 03:28 AM
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In theory, I have no problem at all with courses on, say, comparative religion or religion in history (particularly if they are elective courses). And I have no problem with religious clubs or activities run by students outside classroom hours, as long as they don't get special privileges denied other student organizations.

In practice, yeah, sometimes there are problem. I think it's important that kids have a right to not participate or be proselytized, and that there be no bias in favor of Christianity (or any other religion).

I am far more concerned about teaching real science in the classroom and keeping thinly-disguised theology such as "intelligent design" out.
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Old 18 June 2013, 04:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
I'm curious to hear how parents (especially parents who aren't Christian) deal with this issue. What do you tell your kids?
My eldest is in a Catholic ( ex-convent) school and in Quebec French* schools, they study Catholism in Sec 3 ( Grade 9, ages 14/15)as an integral part of that years education. I asked if she could be removed and was told it was a requirement by the Qc government so she had to stay.

I'm agnostic, the king is atheist. When Princess 1 had questions regarding her understanding of Catholicism, I can't help her. However when she's asked for questions for her teacher regarding ethics and moral responsiblities I have primed her with some intereasting dialemias for her teacher.

* I don't know if there is an equivalent in the English or Allophone school systems, I expect those run by the Jewish, Arabic or Orthodox religions have a similar requirements vis-a-vis thier respective faiths.
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Old 18 June 2013, 04:53 AM
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I'm a Christian but I have no problem with prayer not being in schools. I've talked about it with my kids & told them that I think religious instruction is the job of parents & churches & that even within Christianity there are denominations that have beliefs I don't agree with.
I've tried really hard to teach them to be tolerant & accepting. I think it's working as one of my kids has an atheist for a BFF & the other has made comments about the diversity in his school.
AFA, witnessing & evangelizing & all that, I take a very low key approach. I will occasionally wear a cross to work & if asked about my weekend I'll sometimes mention church. I've also answered questions for co-workers with different or no religion. Other than that, I do my best to treat others with respect & live my life as a Christian for me. If someone looks at my life & decides to convert that's great but that's up to God & them, not me.
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Old 18 June 2013, 05:27 AM
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Ironically enough I have no inherent problem in theory with religious groups meeting at school. It's just a shared interest and no different, again in theory, then a chess club or Junior Farmers of America or whatever. If a bunch of student wants to met between classes or after school... so be it.

In practice of course I am skeptic... no I'll be honest distrustful of them. Given the tract record let's just say my benefit of the doubt has shifted pretty far away from the assumption that these groups are going to stay in the live and let live mode.
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Old 18 June 2013, 06:46 AM
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Thanks for the answers to my question.

I've always wondered - and current family events have forced me to consider more seriously - whether it makes a difference that the parents instill a kind of identity in a child, even as a kind of inoculative measure. For example, I grew up Catholic so, when challenged at school, I could always say that and at least I'd be left sort of alone or I felt I could always fall back on that. I wonder if kids who have no such identity begin to wonder, "well, gee, maybe I could be a JW..." Or does it make no difference?
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Old 18 June 2013, 07:00 AM
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I'm not exactly sure I understand what your asking but even my kids atheist BFF feels she has that as an identity.
I raise my kids in the religion I do because I believe it's right. For me it's not about giving them an identity. It's about raising them up in something I believe in. However, I can look at my Muslim friends in their faith & think that they are not wrong.
Recent events in my life have led me to wonder how I would feel if my kids married someone of a different faith & converted to that faith. I have to say that I honestly don't know. As much as I would love to say that I would be totally OK & open minded about the whole thing, I think it would bother me more than I might care to admit.
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Old 18 June 2013, 07:46 AM
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As a child, I guess you could say I had no religious identity. We never went to church. We never had deep conversations about God(s) or holy books. I knew religion existed, I knew different religions existed, and different people followed them, but my parents really didn't talk about religion at all. Christmases and Easters were more cultural holidays than religious ones. It's never really bothered me, even as a kid.

Did it get awkward when people asked what my religion was? Sometimes. Did my lack of religion mean that people tried harder to convert me? I think so. But for the most part, it's never been a major issue, other than I am maybe somewhat less inclined to discuss religion with other people. I still don't 'have' a religion, and I see no reason to 'get' one just so I can say I have membership in one.
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Old 18 June 2013, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
I've always wondered - and current family events have forced me to consider more seriously - whether it makes a difference that the parents instill a kind of identity in a child, even as a kind of inoculative measure.
One of the standard UU answers to "why send my kids to UU Sunday School?" is that it will prepare them to deal intelligently and skeptically with the pervasive religious messages in our society. That's not really about identity, though, but about being intellectually prepared.
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Old 18 June 2013, 03:30 PM
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I grew up in an atheist household, but religion wasn't a big thing in my area in general. While I'm sure many of my friends and classmates weren't full atheists like my family, people really didn't go to church or talk about religion/God in general conversation and it really wasn't a part of our identity (with the exception of the large population of Sikh kids in my elementary school neighbourhood). It seemed to be even more so when my family moved to Victoria. My middle and high schools were filled typical west coast BC liberal hippies, and religion just wasn't a thing on most people's radar. I know it was there, but it was very much in the background and just really didn't come into play at all for most of the people I knew. In high school, I had three actively religious friends (as in attending services or occasionally speaking of God as an entity they believed in) - one was a muslim, one catholic, and one an Anglican (who happened to be quite famous in his church for being a shining example of a good gay boy. For a while in the 90s, he ended up in several local articles as the good gay-high-school-student poster boy and his church was quite proud of him).

The one exception was when my cousin dragged me along to her youth group a couple times when I was in middle school. It was a fun group of people, even though the bible reading at the end always made me feel slightly weirded out - not because the lessons themselves were bad, but because it was clear that the people involved didn't see the stories as just fables with good moral lessons. It was the first time I realized that real belief was something more than just a hypothetical thing, and that I was fundamentally missing something that let me 'get' it. I tried going to church a few times, and felt completely foreign (it didn't help that it was a baptist church and the very first sermon I went to was a lecture on why it was better for women to be subservient. Even at 11, it made me feel sick to my stomach). If anything, that church experience squashed any chance of believing in gods or falling into religion that I might have had.

So in my experience, outward displays of religion were outside the norm, even though I suspect that most people would have called themselves some form of Christian. Having religion as a big enough part of your life to form your identity was something those other groups did. And there weren't really visible groups like that at my school - rather than being part of the Catholic or Muslim group, it was more of an individual trait that a handful of people had. It was uncommon enough that people tended to just use 'religious' as a catch-all for anyone who made a point of identifying themselves as part of that group. As in: "Try not to swear around Kim too much, she's religious".

Last edited by quink; 18 June 2013 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 18 June 2013, 03:43 PM
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It was the first time I realized that real belief was something more than just a hypothetical thing, and that I was fundamentally missing something that let me 'get' it.
I vividly remember having that realization one day in the middle of a JW meeting. I don't think I was 10 yet. In my case, I was being raised in the faith, and it was very unsettling, one of those surreal moments when things seem to slow down and it's like you're viewing the world from a greater distance, or through some sort of filter.
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Old 18 June 2013, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BrianB View Post
I'd be very surprised if any of these "student" groups were instigated by students. When I was in junior high and high school in the 70s all of these so-called student groups were lead by adults. Unlike the OP, however, there were all run by evangelical protestants--other religious views were complete absent.

No surprise.

Brian
At least some of the groups are student initiated and student run. It is probably true that most originate from adults but they are not all by adults.
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Old 18 June 2013, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
Ironically enough I have no inherent problem in theory with religious groups meeting at school. It's just a shared interest and no different, again in theory, then a chess club or Junior Farmers of America or whatever. If a bunch of student wants to met between classes or after school... so be it.

In practice of course I am skeptic... no I'll be honest distrustful of them. Given the tract record let's just say my benefit of the doubt has shifted pretty far away from the assumption that these groups are going to stay in the live and let live mode.
And, let's not forget, *it's the law*:

http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/cor...ncy/ed4071.php

If a public secondary school lets one student-run group in they have to allow others.

That seems only fair; if a parent doesn't agree with the beliefs of the Christian club they're free to stary something else or say something like, "That's what those kids' families believe . . . it's not what we believe."

Thanks.

Bill
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Old 18 June 2013, 08:28 PM
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That's how it's supposed to be, yes, but in practice it's a lot more difficult. There are a lot of areas of the US where being openly non-Christian will make someone the target of a lot of harassment and bullying, and that's doubly true in the Jr high & high school age brackets. Plus, the second an atheist, Muslim, or other group tries to start a club you almost always get a huge furious wave of indignant parents and community members who are up in arms about the indoctrination of the children! Won't Somebody Think Of The Children!
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Old 19 June 2013, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by queen of the caramels View Post

* I don't know if there is an equivalent in the English or Allophone school systems, I expect those run by the Jewish, Arabic or Orthodox religions have a similar requirements vis-a-vis thier respective faiths.
My son attends a Catholic High school (in Ontario) and we are not Catholic. (in fact i was raised Mormon and his mother is Greek Orthodox). We as a household are not religious -- but the Catholic board is better equipped to handle my sons learning disability).

He is required to attend the Catholic religion classes, and we discussed the fact that the Catholic beliefs on certain things are not what our family believes.
His teacher though loves him though -- my son apparently challenges in a respectful manner which spurs conversation -- and his mid term mark for the class was in the 90s.

I don think it is harming or damaging him -- and in fact i think it provides a great avenue for us to further our own discussions and build our own communication and relationships. It also helps him understand the world he lives in a little better.

** it should also be noted that there are Sikhs, Hindus and people of other religions attending his school -- and while the Catholic message is pervasive through the teachings , and they pray at the beginning and ending of the day and have Mass weekly.
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Old 19 June 2013, 02:57 AM
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My children went to a Catholic high school as well and I was surprised at how, well Catholic it was - no weekly mass though, my two little agnostics would have had something to say about that! When I was in high school back in the '70s the only way you'd have known my high school was Catholic was that we had a priest who maintained a presence in the school. We did have religion class but we could take ethics instead if we chose. I don't recall us starting or ending the day with prayers or having mass at school.

That laidback attitude certainly seems to have changed but even with that the school my kids went to, as NDL says, had a mix of faiths attending and managed to balance the Catholic nature of the school with an excellent education and a lot of extracurriculars and opportunities for the kids to get involved with the community.

Last edited by Sue; 19 June 2013 at 03:19 AM.
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