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Religion by secular definition does not require belief IN a higher power to be called a religion; it simply requires firm belief ABOUT a Higher Power. There are several "religious" groups and sects that either do not believe in a Higher Power at all, or who believe that a spiritual power theoretically may exist but is nevertheless excluded from their tradition's spiritual practices, and are in both cases nevertheless called "religious" groups. Some of these groups do engage in "religious" or "spiritual" practices (such as"prayers" in the form of affirmations like "I forgive everyone; all please forgive me.") but these generally exclude the Higher Power or any reference to one that exists. Pure atheism, while not necessarily requiring or following the "religious" or "spiritual" beliefs and practices of those non-theistic "religious" groups which have them, would still fall in the first category.
Well said. You are right on every point. As a deeply religious person and as a teacher, I believe that public schools must be kept secular in order to meet the needs of all children. As you say, when public money is funneled into religious or other charter schools, those children who need the most help, the low-income, the special-needs, and the minority (whether it be racial, religious, or cultural) are left out. We lose the goal of a free and equal public education for all children.
Children with special needs require a large amount of money and support. Public schools provide an excellent education for the money they are given, but the needs of a few increase the average cost for all students. Our school has a student whose educational costs were $30,000 last year. When private/charter schools compare their cost of educating children, they don't have to include the costs of children who need special medical care, aides, and individual instruction. That of course lowers their average cost. When you take the money out of the public schools to help the "elite" educate their children separately, it is the children who need the most help who suffer. We also can't ignore the children whose parents are working two jobs and can't give the support their children need.
The more public money is given to charter and private schools, the more it becomes segregation between those whose parents have the time and money to drive them somewhere else, and those whose parents cannot, along with those whose special needs aren't met at charter/private schools. We will become a country divided along the lines of money and privilege.
Religious education is an important component of parents' responsibility. It is their right to teach their children their own beliefs and values. When you allow religious education to enter the public schools, you automatically leave some children out. There will always be a child in the neighborhood who is not of the dominant religion. That child deserves a fair and equal education.
Atheism is the lack of a belief in god. Religion, by definition, requires belief in a higher power. Thus atheism is not religion. Additionally the separation of church and state, as defined by the framers, is being misconstrued. Separation of Church and State means that the government is NOT actively promoting one singular religion. For instance, early Muslim cities (think 1600-1800) did not have separation. They allowed the 'People of the Book' (I.e. Christians and Jews) to live in peace, though if you converted to Islam, you got a tax break. That is actively promoting a single religion.
Now in Public schools theres often some sort of world religions course, or at least its touched upon in history (since religion is a driving factor in world history). Public schools just don't have a class that promotes one religion (unless of course you live in the south and people are idiots and think Intelligent Design is science). Some priviate religious schools don't teach evolution (the more fundamentalist ones like some baptist schools). Mine did, it taught science as fact (actually my AP bio teacher taught us everything creationists and intelligent design people say to evolutionists and how to combat their stupidity. He was awesome)
NOW it is NOT against the the separation of church and state for a child to learn about different religions in a class. I actually think it's a good idea if students learn about other cultures. Its probably the reason theres so many intolerant people in America. However if said teacher said that Catholicism is the one true religion and you must follow it, that violates it and the teacher would probably be fired.
Give education back to the states....please!
Since Atheism is a religion, isn't that religion (or lack of it) what's being taught in our public schools? Just wondering.
It's all about education, period!
Blake is yet another person who kind of misses the whole point of not establishing a religion. Interesting how people like him try to split hairs and say there is no foundation for separation, yet when there is an issue they are for that requires an extra constitutional view, they have no problem discussing what the intent of the "fathers" was, and how important that is. And I wonder how these people would feel about their tax dollars being used to teach buddhism/islam/judaism, you pick the godless heathens.
Do religious-leaning charter schools violate the separation of church and state? It is impossible for them to do so since their is absolutely nothing in our Constitution or its ammendments that establishes a separation of church and state to begin with.
The term "wall of separation between church and state" was in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. Specifically, Jefferson wrote, "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
The First Ammendment to the Constitution simply states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." In other words, Congress won't set up a religion or stop people from practicing their religion.
The "wall of separation between church and state" was a statement made one time by Jefferson in one letter. Period. It is not a part of the law of the United States, just one man's interpretation of what that law meant to him. And it wasn't a denial of religion as the same letter ends with, "I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem."
That said, do I want to trust just anybody with teaching religion to my children. No way. If I don't agree with a school's curriculum I wouldn't send my children there.
Here's my solution to the dilemma. The state should fund religious schools because they teach things like reading, writing, math, etc. However, we don't want to subsidize individual religious indoctrinations. So why don't we just pro-rate it? Fund the the other educational activities... just not the religious instruction? It sound good to me.
No, religious charter schools do not violate the Separation of Church and State (SCS), or at least not what that was supposed to be. SCS is SUPPOSED to give Americans freedom OF religion, not freedom from religion. A school should not be denied public funding because it has a religious leaning.
Also, if parents know that the school has that religious leaning, it is their choice to send their child to that school or to a different one.
Personally, I am in favor of vouchers for education. I attended a private religious high school which does not receive government funding, and I think it is stupid that my parents had to pay taxes for public schools on top of the tuition for my school. That is ridiculous!