"The problems in the community are caused by religion not being allowed in the schools," – a common lament every time another young person is murdered or crime in our community is discussed.
As an educator for almost fifty years, I beg to differ. Religion, specifically prayer, plays a major role in the schools. You should face thirty adolescents every day and see how many times you call on the Almighty for strength and guidance. There is no doubt in my mind that more sincere commitments to the faith have been made over the SAT or a math test than all the conversions that Billy Graham has called down the aisle. Prayer in the classroom bears resemblance to prayer in the foxhole; sincerely felt and forever remembered; if you live to tell the tale.
But seriously, consider what you mean by 'religion' when you make the claim that religion is not taught in the public schools. From day one, teachers work diligently to teach children how to love one another good socialization skills; sharing, fairness, tolerance, sportsmanship, mutual respect, compassion, and friendship. Children are taught to appreciate and preserve their environment the natural gifts of the creator. They are taught to respect their elders. Various activities and community service teach them to work together for the greater good of everyone. Repeatedly they are instructed to be honest not to lie, cheat, steal, covet, take another's life or take the name of the Lord in vain. Many teachers even go so far as to try to convince children that material goods are not a substitute for spiritual values.
The United States constitution does not forbid any of these activities. Educating children in the Judeo-Christian ethic is considered a civic responsibility. What the founding fathers did forbid was the establishment of religion as a function of the government or the promotion of one particular religion while members of different faiths were persecuted. Such religious practices in Europe forced many of the early settlers to escape to the New World and they certainly did not want to see the same things happen in their newly formed country.
I would suggest that the public schools are doing a very good job of promoting religious teachings with our youth. So, if you accept this premise, you have to wonder where children learn all their 'non-religious' behavior lying, stealing, cheating, cursing, intolerance, anti-social acts?
Have you heard the saying, "little pitchers have big ears?" Consider some of these scenarios:
'Why haven't you spoken to the neighbors for ten years, grandma? What are you angry about?'
'Mommy, why did cousin Muriel give you another bag of things from the store without charging you for them?'
'Why is Daddy changing the numbers on his tax form after the accountant already finished the taxes?'
'Daddy said that he did not get the job even though he is better qualified because the commissioner hired his nephew instead.'
'Billy, how can you have a baby brother when your mommy did not have a baby?'
'Daddy, what does the word embezzlement mean?'
'BJ, let's go somewhere else to play, all those women do is talk bad about their husbands and neighbors.'
'Uncle John, my teacher makes us write I will not curse one hundred times if we talk like you do.'
'Did you see that man throw his garbage out of the car window by that old junked truck?'
'Why does Uncle Tony hit Aunt Carla?'
'I heard my aunt say that she took money from grandma's account because she needed it and grandma would never miss it.'
'Why does that lady hate my puppy and throw stones at her?'
'You mean I will never get into heaven because I don't go to your church?'
'Mommy wasn't able to bring us any food tonight from work because the boss was there.'
'Daddy, why did you lie to the policeman and tell him you were on the left side of the road when you hit that car?'
'Mommy, why does my excuse say that I was sick when you kept me home to baby sit while you got your hair done?'
'I saw you put those candy bars in your pocket without paying for them.'
'Why did you tell the pastor you weren't feeling well on Sunday when we were really at the beach?'
'How did you get your hair cut when you were supposed to be at work?'
'Why did you give that man money to inspect your car and then he didn't even look at the car?'
Maybe it's past time to put religion and religious teachings back in the home and the community. The religion taught in the churches and schools could use a little support.
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