>I really don’t want to use much of this space for political or social commentary, but since I raised the subject of Weekly Religious Education in my community some time ago, I thought it would be appropriate to mention an interesting article in Slate on Wednesday, February 16, entitled Bible Belt Upside the Head, reporting on the decision this week by our local (Staunton, VA) school board to retain WRE, but with a modification that the kids who opt out (whose parents opt them out, that is) must be provided a way to occupy their time more usefully while their classmates are out getting their Christian indoctrination. The board’s decision was pragmatic, if uncourageous.
The Slate article nicely sums up why the arguments in favor of the program are baloney:
- it’s constitutional–in fact, it isn’t clear that the Supreme Court precedent really would protect this program, particularly in light of more recent cases and the current makeup of the court;
- it’s religious persecution to prohibit it–now a favorite argument of the Christian right, the fact is that adhering to the principle of religious neutrality is the height of NON-persecution, of Christians and everyone else;
- the majority want it–except that the “constitution is subject to neither majority rule nor to popular recall [of elected officials.” Slate goes on: “programs can be popular and still be unconstitutional.”
- it’s nondenominational–well, no it’s not; it’s Christian, and furthermore it’s Protestant;
- it’s noncoercive–this is the one that the conservatives just don’t get, because they are just incapable of seeing any issue from anyone else’s perspective; “it’s naive to believe that indoctrination [of one group] doesn’t affect the outsiders.”
Note: This post is closed to further comment because of inappropriate anonymous remarks. To “Anonymous”–either summon the courage to sign your name to your comments or feel free to start your own blog.
>I went to a private Catholic highschool and of course a religion course and some masses were required. But then this was understood and if a child was of another faith, they could opt out. I’m curious. Are the schools that want to retain WRE public or private? If public, then I find the exclusion of other faiths or spiritual beliefs and even non-beliefs outrageous. If a public school wants to have WRE, then I would expect them to teach Christianity (and historical Christianity as well–the Crusades for example); Hinduism; Zen-Buddism; Moslem; etc.
>These are public schools and WRE is conducted off school property, by churches. The program follows what they believe is a constitutionally-protected time release system that is not officially part of the school. It does occur in the middle of the school day however. One of the proposals was to make it an afterschool activity, but for some reason the zealots wouldn’t tolerate that. And it isn’t about teaching, it’s about indoctrination.
>It would appear that those who oppose WRE are the ones who wish to indoctrinate our children. They are the true zealots…seeking to purge the school of a program that is voluntary and only half an hour each week. Ah, but the zealot cannot see his own mania, then, can he? lol.
>Dear “anonymous”: Feel free to twist the little mind of your own child, and leave other people’s alone.
>Thank you for proving my point better than I ever could!