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The presence of religion or religious acts in the public schools and or class room settings is one of the most difficult, challenging and controversial church and state issues. Religion should be taught in schools for many reasons. These reasons are, to reduce fear and or guilt of angering ones God, to educate or bring knowledge to people on other religious beliefs, and because students have a First Amendment right to religious expression in school.
A more common but almost always unrecognized reason is fear.
This type of fear comes in many forms. Fear of angering the God he or she has always worshipped. As, many people know most religions and or their pastors or preachers teach the Ten Commandments; Commandment number 1: I am the Lord Thy God -Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Preachers and or Pastors teach that their religion is the only and right way to worship or honor God. Another type of fear is figuring out that other religions may be attractive thus diminishing his or her commitment to the religion he or she has always thought to be the right one.
An additional type of fear is what people may think if he or she converts or if he or she will find another religion and their religious practices appealing. These fears are to name just a few types. Guilt is another reason. Some people will not even open a brochure or read any type of literature on different religions, due to feeling guilty of betraying his or her religion.
Many religions and their religious leaders are very operative in using the tactics of fear and guilt to keep their congregations devoted.
People can eradicate fear and guilt by becoming knowledgeable on different religions and their religious acts. Most often, people often fear what he or she does not understand. By increasing one’s knowledge of the many different religions is most likely the best way to obliterate fear and guilt. The greatest way to do that is through education that is done in a safe environment, and in a non-threatening way. Another reason is that with knowledge, comes understanding. In an article from FaithStreet, a survey was performed. It states that Americans are “ignorant” when it comes to religion and have little to no knowledge about other practices. This leads to stereotyping and misunderstanding about what people believe in. Studies also show that teasing and bullying people about their religion starts at young ages beginning in kindergarten. Many Americans are hateful towards different religions. Many hate crimes can also be eliminated by educating people on different religion.
Students have a First Amendment right to religious expression in school. Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Free Exercise Clause upholds that certain religious activity in public schools is protected. The Free Exercise Clause, which forbids congress from taking away the right of the people to freely exercise any religion, or none at all. For as much as, students do not force or otherwise encroach on the rights and learning of their schoolmates, they can: participate in private prayer during the school day; express their religious beliefs in homework, written and oral assignments; and get excused from specific classroom discussions or activities for religious reasons. This simply states as long as a person does not force religion on other students, he or she can pray during school; and can also express themselves in any homework assignment or class room activity. From the day The First Amendment right appeared in the U.S. Constitution, to this very day, and one can rest assure into our nation’s future, the appropriate role of religion and religious acts in public schools has been, is, and will continue to be a subject of great deliberation.
For these reasons, it is important for students to learn about as many religions as possible. Religion and religious acts ought to be taught in schools as a substance of education, and education only. If students were more actively aware of other religions, they could better understand each other. Religion and prayer can help students in educational settings by positively contributing to better grades and behavior. As Ronald Regan once said, “If we ever forget that we are “One nation under God,” then we will be a nation gone under.”
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