Do you have kids of school-going age? Are you worried about the exposure they are going to get to religious teachings? Many Christian parents don’t have this worry, as many schools might be more inclined to Christian studies. But what about the parents of children who belong to other religious groups?
Religion is something that can and should be taught, but not at public school. Religion is a tricky subject for many people. In fact, it is one of the subjects people have an unspoken rule of not talking about in a social environment…along with sex, money, and politics!
So, the question begs to be answered; should religion even be taught in schools in this day and age? I don’t think so, and I will tell you why not.
15 reasons why religion should not be taught in public schools:
1. Not all children in the school belong to the same religion.
It’s hard to force all children in one class to study religious studies (which are typically Christian) when some of those children could belong to faiths that are not Christian. It might make some of the children feel left out or confused.
2. Some children may be forced to do things against their religion (pray).
With the thought that not all children in the same class are of the same religion, how fair is it for teachers to expect children to say a morning prayer together? When children participate in religious activity that goes against their actual religion, it can make them feel overlooked or make them feel like they have to lie about their true beliefs.
3. It takes up valuable education time (religion should be taught at home).
Parents don’t send children to school to learn about religion. They want them to learn to read, write, do mathematics, and make sense of complex subjects and ideas. Religious studies have a place away from the school.
4. It can create divisions amongst students.
When students start to realize that their friends belong to religions that are not the same as theirs, it can start an interpersonal issue between them. Some children may tell their parents that their friend is part of a certain religion and be warned off them as a result. Teaching religion in school can break bonds and connections between students.
5. It can cause students to become confused and even question their religion.
If a non-Christian student has to sit through religious studies on Christianity, they are going to hear an entirely different side of the story. This can spark an early existential crisis in a young child.
6. Typically only one religion is focused on instead of a variety of religions.
Unfortunately, religious studies in schools don’t focus on teaching children the basics of all religions. Instead, one religion is the main focus, which hardly seems fair or healthy in terms of development.
7. Church and Sunday school are better equipped to teach religion.
Schools are usually not well equipped for teaching religion to such a large and varied group of children. It is best for children to attend their church Sunday school or attend classes at whichever religion they are part of.
8. Children who opt out of religious studies at school might feel isolated.
If a child isn’t comfortable with learning religion at school and tries to opt-out, chances are that it will draw unwanted attention to the child. His/her mere exclusion can lead to feelings of isolation, being different, and even being unwanted.
9. It could impose stress and pressure on children if not correctly taught.
Religion is not a fairytale-like story. It is jam-packed with drama, trauma, murder, sex, betrayal… these are bound to stress out a child who has never had to really think of these things before then.
10. Religious studies presented incorrectly can lead to fear.
As the stories of the Bible are somewhat scary or even brutal, delivering the story and message to young children has to be done carefully. If it’s not, children can feel scared and confused by their own lives and existences.
11. It provides children with the sense that religion is compulsory and not their actual choice.
If a child attends a school where religion classes are scheduled, it immediately provides the impression that they have no choice. For the most part, children cannot pick and choose their classes. This may provide the wrong idea about religion. Religion is a personal choice and should not simply be scheduled for or imposed on someone.
12. Children may feel forced to study religion and shy away from it instead of turn to it as a result.
Quite often, when a child feels like he/she has to do something, they end up backing away from it and doing the opposite. If the hope is that children will become more virtuous through religion studies at school, it may just backfire.
13. Children become ostracized because their belief system is somewhat different from others.
Most children have their belief system instilled by their parents from birth. In a particular school or community, most children might have a similar belief system, but when it comes to light that a few in the group have different beliefs, it sets them apart. This can be highly traumatic for a child.
14. Children still learning their own religion may be put on the spot when asked to explain their religion.
Some children belong to religions that are not considered Christian. It is only natural to bring that to light when teaching a religious class. It might seem harmless enough, but simply putting a child on the spot because of their religious beliefs can really make them feel uncomfortable and unhappy. Reactions from peers may also be hurtful.
15. Some of the biblical and religious content is sensitive and needs to be presented to children carefully. Not all teachers are qualified to do this.
A lot of the content in religious studies is content that needs to be taught by experienced and qualified religious teachers. Many schools might simply allow a regular teacher to present the classes, which, of course, merely leads to misconceptions and confusions.
If you are worried about your child being taught religion in school, speak up and make it known. While religion is fine and can be taught, the classes should be optional, and children shouldn’t be forced.