It is hard to imagine a society completely absent of any religion or religious influences especially in North America, where we live in a Judeo-Christian society. Not all members of society subscribe to a religion, such as atheists; it is something that envelops our society whether obvious, or not. From the morals and values that guide a country to governing its citizens fairly, to the punishment for people who break the law, all these principals have a foundation in the bible. So why then, is any publication with the mention of Christianity or a Christian message being pulled from a Temecula, California, school?
The school superintendent, Kathleen Hermsmeyer believes that it is not appropriate to keep books that denote the Christian faith on school shelves. She explained, “We do not purchase sectarian educational materials and do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves”. This has made some parents quite upset to the point that they are looking into legal action to take against the school. Choosing to represent the victims is the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), when PJI looked further into the case they found that what the school is doing is a direct violation of the First Amendment, which protects the right to religion and religious expression. PJI also found that it is not mandatory that religious books be removed from the shelves! So how can the school do this when it is going against citizen’s rights? Why does the school have a vendetta out for Christianity? Books being given away included “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom. The book is about a Christian family that helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust. If not under Christianity, should this book not be read to enlighten the youth to the horrors of the Holocaust?
It is unfortunate that the youth of today must live in a world devoid of beliefs, whether parallel to their own or not. Being able to live with people of different religions, and faiths is a privilege that we all share because our forefathers fought for everyone and their rights to coexist in North America. By learning about how other people think, act, and practice according to their cultures and religions allows us to break down the cultural barrier caused by ignorance. Even though I may not agree with another group’s religion, does not means it offends me enough to have a book in my library that promotes it taken away. Whether I choose to subscribe to that belief is my choice, and I would never push my belief on another person. We need to respect everyone in all their differences, and not demand that their books be “removed from our shelves” when we disagree.
By removing books from a school shelves because of their religious perspective or message, is not making students more tolerant to other faiths, it is instead doing the opposite. It is creating the false sense that if someone has a faith different to yours, they are wrong. We should engage in world religions, because this is what helped shape and create the world we live in today.
– S.H. #349