UK Teacher: Does Keeping Religion Out of US Schools Prepare Kids For Life?

In the Jesus Glasses and Bloggers For Chad Farnan post, a high school politics and sociology teacher in the UK asks in the comment section some very pointed questions. Seems he is a bit perplexed by Capistrano Valley High School teacher James Corbett’s “teaching” approach…and on a wider scale, the US public school approach to religion.

Here’s his comment:

Could you tell me, is the kind of agenda pursued by Corbett quite common in US state schools?

What I find a bit of an enigma is this: On one hand, religion is to be kept out of the classroom and yet, on the other, as some defenders of Corbett seem to be pointing out, it is impossible to cover European history without looking at the role of religion. How do your educators reconcile the two?

When it comes to the coverage of European history in your schools, does the role of the Reformers such as Luther and Tyndale in empowering the common people by translating the scriptures out of Latin and into their own languages ever get examined? Do your schools examine the huge roles of Calvin, Knox and Zwingli in liberating the people from the 16th century bondage of a corrupt Roman Catholic church?

Or does religious history only get examined when it’s appropriate to bash the church?

When Martin Luther King gets covered in the US syllabus, is his spiritual motivation as well as his social and political activism examined?

It seems like your system is quite similar to France’s where religion is to be kept at a long arm’s length. I once asked a French school teacher, “Why are you so afraid of religion in France?” He didn’t like this as the French, like most of us, are a rather proud people!

In Scotland, we actually have Religious Education (as distinct from religious “instruction”) in schools. Yes, it’s subject to abuses and I’m not happy about confusing kids with TMI too early, but it does bring a hugely relevant part of people’s lives into the school, rather than simply pretend religion doesn’t exist.

Our students are encouraged to pursue their own ‘Personal Search’ and the RE classroom is an environment where Christian students can, for example, say why they believe in Jesus Christ, and atheists can say why they do not. I’ve seen this happen from time to time in my own classes.

We also have Religious Observance where local miisters come into the school and regularly address the youngsters. If atheists do not wish their children to be exposed to this they have the protected right to withdraw them from such events.

In the UK, like everywhere, we have our problems, but I don’t see how, particularly in such a strongly Christian country as America, you can keep religion out of school and at the same time be fully preparing kids for life after school. Some say, if people want God let them send their kids to a private Christian school, but is that fair when your state school system which is so hugely funded by Christian taxes?

Please go to Jesus Glasses and Bloggers For Chad Farnan to join the discussion.