Removing Religion from Schools

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

Link: http://fxn.ws/1wL0j0J

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7 thoughts on “Removing Religion from Schools

  1. What a great blog! I agree, the world claims to be a place of religious freedom, though if we ban all religions in schools and other places in society, aren’t we discouraging people to have any religion at all? Students in schools are the future generation, and if they are not exposed and encouraged to be tolerable to all religions, they may form unfair biases throughout their lifetime. I believe in order to have a tolerable and accepting society, we must not take all religion out of our lives, but instead encourage and accept all religions.

  2. What a great blog! I agree, the world claims to be a place of religious freedom, though if we ban all religions in schools and other places in society, aren’t we discouraging people to have any religion at all? Students in schools are the future generation, and if they are not exposed and encouraged to be tolerable to all religions, they may form unfair biases throughout their lifetime. I believe in order to have a tolerable and accepting society, we must not take all religion out of our lives, but instead encourage and accept all religions.

  3. Your thoughts are very insightful; I also agree very much so that there should be a religious tolerance taught to children at a very young age. Despite my Catholic upbringing and spending my life of education in a Catholic school, I have never really favoured my own religion to others. Upon entering University a few years back, I was then hit with reality by the visual ethnic community we have here on campus. It is not only fascinating to me to be exposed to all the different kinds of religions, I also yearn to learn more about religion within politics. In my own belief, religions of all kind, are based on the foundation of teaching the good morale. The persecution of certain religious books –i.e., book banning, is not only a step away from burning books but infringing on the rights of expression.

    Reading your blog, it got me thinking; what are the reasons why books are being banned? I found my source here at http://bit.ly/1CZA1et. Essentially, they state the common reasons for banning books are because of the content found within the pages. The common reasons include: racial issues, encouragement of “damaging” lifestyle, blasphemous dialogue, sexual situations or dialogue, violence or negativity, presence of witchcraft, religious affiliations (unpopular religions), political bias, and age inappropriate books. What I found most intriguing is the section where the “presence of witchcraft” is offensive! Apparently the Harry Potter Series insinuates pagan beliefs and encourages the practice witchcraft, which I find is absurd, children (and adults) should be able to have an imagination! Then again, if there are those who actually practice witchcraft as part of their religion, then there should not be a problem having it in a public library. On the contrary, most libel books, texts and images are banned from the public because it cause harm to society’s good.

    Essentially, nothing should be banned from institutions if they are a formalized belief that means no harm to others’ liberty. Returning to the article you wrote about, Christianity belief itself is not harmful, neither are religious books written for the intention of good. Despite reasonable limits as to why certain materials are banned, I do believe that individuals should be able to purchase whatever they wish to read through a third-party such as online stores. Though most might argue with me, “What about books that are really bad?” I personally believe that it is up to the individual’s decision whether or not they should have access to what they wish to read, and this includes religious texts as well.

  4. To ban all religious affiliated books I feel like is the school’s way of trying to ensure their students keep an open mind towards religions. However, I believe it would cause the opposite effect. If children are not exposed to religions at all, how will they be able to learn and to accept various religions, and the cultures from which they are derived. It takes away from any possible globalization ideas that children may have towards the differing societies around the world and why societies practice the religions they do. That is a complicated question, but without the background of religion in general, I do not think that the youth from that school will have an advantageous approach to answering that question. If it is indeed the hope of the school to create religious tolerance in the school, I believe that it should not ban religious book, but instead embrace them, and to create a collection of a variety of religions so that the children may gain more knowledge a variety of religions.

  5. Interesting topic for sure and a good commentary. However, I can’t say I completely agree. I don’t think that the books on Christianity should be REMOVED from the shelves of the school but certain statements made in the blog post make it seem like Americans are more accepting of world religions than I believe they actually are. Christianity is such a dominant religion in North America and there is a lot of misunderstanding and underrepresentation of religions like Islam, especially in the school system. The books with mentions of Christianity should stay on the shelves of the school, but perhaps they should also bring some aspects and information on the various other religious traditions of the world into the curriculum. Doing so might get rid of the idea that Christianity is the norm. This blog post suggests that all students are benefitting from “learning about how other people think, act, and practice according to their cultures” and that “religions allows us to break down the cultural barrier caused by ignorance.” I don’t believe that there is a lot of ignorance and lack of understanding of Christianity in America, and more often than not it is the non-Christian students that are persecuted.

    #349

  6. This is a very eye opening blog that puts our society into perspective when it comes to religion in schools. I agree that it is unfair to strip the youth of all and any religious books. Everyone should be entitled to his or her own beliefs and you should not be judged based on them. Being able to live and be united in a society with many religious beliefs is a privilege that we should not take for granted. Children should be exposed to all religions so that we as a society maintain the tolerability into the younger generations. We want the youth to accept and understand, not take away the right to learn. They are sheltering the children by extracting all of the books and it is my belief that we should be encouraging and teaching the younger generations to accept religion in all forms. By embracing the cultural diversity of the world it would allow the youth to not become ignorant towards other religions, but instead create unity among all.

  7. Interesting article! I find it surprising that the school would try to remove all Christian books from their shelves. However, I suppose her action is somewhat understandable if those are the only religious books in the school. Still, it would make more sense to me for an educational institution to take an educational approach; perhaps including a religious studies program in the curriculum. That way books from all religions could be made available at the school. This seems like a more sensible approach. Learning creates understanding and inclusiveness; bans often create apprehension, fear, and suspicion. It’s sad that her action has created so much acrimony; even sadder if it’s for the wrong reasons.

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