Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lamar board votes against Bible class

Today's Lamar Democrat features an article on the Lamar R-1 Board of Education's decision not to add a Bible class to its curriculum. The vote was 4-2 with George Haag and Michelle Crockett voting for the class, and Jason Stansberry, Marilyn Selvey, Dale Norwood, and Deana Cook voting against it. Tim Riegel was not present.
While I certainly can't argue with the decision, (I don't believe a course specifically on the Bible has a place in a public school system) some of the reasoning mentioned in the article shows the misconceptions that people, including many who should know better, have about the place of religion in public school curriculum.

To offer the course, the teacher must remain neutral, and although a case has never reached the supreme court, it has been made very clear religion can not be taught in public schools.

It is not clear from the article if the Lamar R-1 Board of Education or Democrat Editor Rayma Bekebrock Davis was responsible for the statement, but it is simply not true. While the First Amendment clearly prohibits public schools from imposing religion on students, it does not say religion cannot be taught. In fact, any education that does not touch on religion is shortchanging the students.
Religion plays a role and is often the key factor in nearly every major historical event. Teaching history without religion is not teaching history at all. The same holds true for literature. Much of the background of many great works of literature and art can be traced back to the writers' and artists' religious beliefs.
How in the world can anyone teach current events without bringing religion into it? An interpretation of the Islamic religion is responsible for 9-11 and the basis of the current war on terrorism. How can anyone even to attempt to understand what is happening in Iraq without bringing religion into the discussion?

Part of the problem has been overzealous public school officials who are so afraid of having any mention of religion in their schools that they have made the mistake of not allowing children to have their Bibles with them, or not allowing students to bring up religion in classroom discussions.

That being said, most public school officials do realize that religion is a part of public education and make sure that students not only have the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs, but they make sure that religion is not shortchanged when it comes to the teaching of history, civics, and other subjects.

There is no place in public schools for teachers and administrators who try to force their religious beliefs on students, but religion definitely has a place in public schools.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I could not agree more.