The debate about the role of religion in public schools is decades long.
The goal of a school system is to educate and encourage the youth to be a functioning part of society. In some cases, teachers and students feel that religion is a necessary part of that. The necessity stems from the belief that religion provides morals for people to abide. I believe that any one person can obtain decent morals without religion, as so many have. In my opinion, a secular environment with the option to practice your faith is the best option for schools.
The law requires teachers to remain separate from their beliefs when teaching academics.
It is okay for them to be religious, and they can express their faith when appropriate. However, teachers are not allowed to push their beliefs. The same rules apply to the students. If the lesson discusses a religion, then any answers or questions about said religion is appropriate to ask. However, if the lesson is about another subject that has not mentioned a religion, then it is discouraged to bring it up. You cannot teach one specific religion as correct and others as incorrect.
These rules provide a comfortable learning environment for all teachers and students who may or may not participate in religion. The problem stemming from some schools is a lack of respect for fellow students and teachers who share different beliefs.
I grew up going to a school that was heavily geared towards Christianity and was in a southern town.
I acknowledge that this does not mean that all schools in southern towns act in the same way. There were instances where students felt threatened by the idea that another student could stop in the middle of class to participate in their faith. The students began arguing that if one faith should have a certain right, then all faiths should have it. While this is not necessarily a wrong theory, its painted in hatred and misunderstanding.
The angry students failed to see that they had just as many opportunities to practice their faith as the other students and even sometimes more freedom.
Students who need to pray at certain times of day were given that right. The students that followed separate faiths in which they were not required to pray at specific hours of the day were not given that courtesy, because they were not religiously bound to it.
Christianity in many forms is practiced in schools. Some of which are:
-Fellowship of Christian Athletes clubs (which I discovered were not exclusive to athletes despite the name),
-Meet Me at the Pole days once a semester or once a year,
-Religious music within choir groups,
-Bowing their head and pray in the middle of the day at any time.
Practicing my religion never once scared or worried me. It was the dominating faith at my school. There were kids in my school who believed differently than me. They wanted to practice their faith without harassment. However, they were met with anger and fear.
As for the argument that some religions are dangerous to students, try being a little more informative before making such accusations.
The law requires public schools to allow students to participate in their religion. This is true unless certain aspects of their religion are harmful to the student body. If someone’s beliefs were truly harmful to you, then it would not be any different than another student bringing a weapon or harmful words to school. Schools have a code of conduct rules. Regardless of religion, weapons, harassment, or any kind of harmful act is obviously prohibited.
Consider what you are doing if you try to prevent another student from participating in their faith. You are not only harassing them, but you are causing harm to their learning abilities. They just want to get through school just the same as you. If you disagree with something they say, think about how they must feel when you talk about what you believe.
Here are some links to check out regarding your rights:
Religious Freedom in Public Schools: https://www.aclund.org/en/news/do-you-know-your-religious-freedom-rights-school
Department of Education Religious Protections: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-takes-actions-address-religious-discrimination
Are you the victim of harassment? https://www.employmentlawyernewyork.com/news/latest/religious-harassment-am-i-a-victim.html
Identifying religious discrimination: https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/religion-in-public-schools/clubs
Check out some of your school’s clubs to see if one matches with your beliefs. This will help you find some friends that you can relate to. Try also sitting in on other religious gatherings to understand the other students better. This goes for all religions (if you are comfortable enough to do so).
If you would like to share your opinion on this topic, please leave a comment below this article. It is important to have open discussions about these types of things because it leads to change that sometimes betters our environment.