Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Religion in public schools?

The On Faith forum for Newsweek and The Washington Post is asking their panelists about the Texas Board of Education deciding how to characterize religion's influence on American history as the K-12 curriculum is revised. As the second largest public school textbook buyer, a lot of eyes are watching their choice On Faith states that several consultants have recommended "emphasizing the roles of the Bible, Christianity and civic virtue of religion." They ask,
As America's children go back to school, how would you advise the Texas board? How should religion be taught in public schools?
Columnist Chuck Colson writes,
Professor George P. Landow, from my alma mater, the very liberal Brown University, said, "[Without the Bible] it's like using a dictionary with one-third of the words removed." Professor Ulrich Knoepflmacher at Princeton said that the lack of "Bible knowledge is almost crippling in students' ability to be sophisticated readers."
American Baptist pastor Willis Elliott observes the irony that religion has made a comeback in Russian schools, but not American ones. While Rabbi Brad Hirschfield writes seeking a middle ground,
Most Americans are somewhere in the middle on this issue, as we are on most of the so-called hot button issues. We know, even if we are believers, that there is a difference between teaching about the history of religion in America and preaching the Gospel to a captive audience of children in our nation's classrooms. Most people would like to see the former and reject the latter. But they need leaders who will advocate for that sane middle ground which neither turns teachers into preachers nor ignores the role of religion in general or Christianity in particular, as crucial to our shared history.
I think that the rabbi is right in his middle ground approach. I also agree with Colson that learning the language and stories of the Bible make any one in the West better able to understand the ongoing conversation in literature and philosophy that springs from the Bible.

To bridge that gap, I advocate for private schools to fill that void. I am a product of a private Christian school and King of Peace is working to create a private school that builds on the proven success of our preschool. This gives parents, who choose to do so, a quality education that unapologetically includes a religious dimension. Public schools must limit their treatment of any faith to the approach Hirschfield describes. But private schools can provide a high quality of education, which includes familiarity with the Bible in a way not possible in public education. That's my take. What's yours?

The Rev. Frank Logue, President
King of Peace Episcopal Day School

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  • At 9/04/2009 8:28 AM, Anonymous kenny said…

    The cynical, militant, evangelical in me wants to know why President Obama can preach his religion to the kids but Christianity can't be preached as well.

  • At 9/04/2009 10:25 AM, Anonymous Amber said…

    I love the idea of private schools. But there are many out there including me that can not afford them. So we have to do the teaching of the bible at home and at our church. Of course we would prefer for our children to also learn about the bible in the school but our pocket books can't make that happen at this time. So we deal with how the public schools are and pray that they will change.

  • At 9/04/2009 12:52 PM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Well said.

    We, as parents, have to stay involved as teachers ourselves, examples, defenders, and active overseers of what the public schools do. God help us.

  • At 9/04/2009 3:33 PM, Blogger Tom Sramek, Jr. said…

    Kenny: Why exactly is President Obama speaking to schoolchildren about education any different than any other President doing so? After all, he IS the President!

  • At 9/05/2009 1:02 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    Our country was founded on freedom of religion. Our forefathers made sure, in the Constitution, to have separation of church and state in order to protect this freedom. Frankly, when you put religion and God into the school system, you are opening up doors for governmental control. I personally don't want the government in my faith and religion, period!

    Also, freedom of religion encompasses all ways of worship and all entities that are worshipped. If God is allowed in schools, then Allah, Buddah, and even Satan will have to be allowed equal opportunity. I don't want my kids to be forced to learn about or be exposed to things that go against our faith. In turn, I don't believe we should force God onto those who believe otherwise and have the right to do so.

    And, believe it or not after reading this, I am actually rather conservative politcally. :)

  • At 9/05/2009 1:55 PM, Anonymous Amber said…

    Sorry Kelly but I have to say this. Just remember I still love you!! I believe we are to spread God's word and help show them the way to the Lord. Now of course they have a right to say no, that is free will. But we have to do our best. I know their would be other religions but we are in America so most would be Christians. I would love for my boys to be able to pray before their lunch and not get looked at funny or told they can not do that. Also to be able to learn about the bible as well at school would be wonderful!! But unfortunately I do not see that in the recent future. So I will do my best to continue to teach them at home. But again I think religion brought back into school would help our youth more than it would harm.

  • At 9/05/2009 1:56 PM, Anonymous kenny said…

    Tom, so as long as everyone else is doing it, it's OK if it's done again?

    I admit I don't like Obama's politics all that much and I did say that this opinion was just part of my total views on the subject. Still, having teachers who've passed strict exams of their qualifications along with strict reviews of curricula is one thing. Having a divisive politician come in with no screening of what he's going to say is quite another.

    It is interesting, though, that the President can afford the time to "reach out" to our kids when he couldn't allow our Representatives the time to review and debate his stimulus package earlier this year.

  • At 9/05/2009 2:38 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    Just remember Amber, that the government controls cirriculum and it will dictate how God and the Bible is taught to your children in public schools.

    And, if the Bible is taught in the public schools and becomes part of the cirriculum, then the people who don't want it don't have the right to say no anymore. As far as the majority being Christian: What's the one correct way to teach Christianity to Catholics,Episcopalians,Lutherans, Baptists, Greek Othodox, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc... AJ was told in kindergarten by a Baptist little boy that we were going to hell because we're Catholic. So, how could you incorporate so many different views of Christianity into one cirriculum? That's hard enough. Then try to expand that cirriculum to include all religious beliefs as to not exclude anybody and their rights as Americans who pay taxes to the school system too.

    Once you allow governmental involment in religion, then you're paving the road to laws and restrictions governing the way we worship. You're opening up the road to our churches being taxed.The government is already too involved in the rest of my life. I'll be responsible for my children's religious education and faith.

  • At 9/05/2009 3:16 PM, Anonymous Amber said…

    Not all Baptist are that way. My parents happen to to Baptist and love to visit our church. There are some common grounds in the religion that you mention and we could focus on that. Yes it would be difficult but what isn't in life. I feel that that religion should be allowed back in school. Maybe that would help children with life challenges and so on. I see that you do not feel the same and others. But that doesn't make it right. Like I said before if I could afford private schools and have them hear God's word in school I would. But I can not at this time and would love to have them hear this in public schools. But because of so many others I believe this will never happen. Which makes me sad and I will have to continue with what I do now. What I do like, and I'm not sure that they still do this is that our school had an after school program that was Christian. It was not run by Episcopalians and yet Chris went and was in influenced to become Methodist,Baptist, whatever. He was simply given the message that God loves him and everyone and he was sent home with some scripture to look up and read. He was not told what they thought it was trying to teach us. So if we could just get that message that would be a start. But we do have the problem of other religions that do not believe our beliefs and yes I feel they are wrong. I believe I am to spread God's word and message and teach others about his word. Ok well I think that is it for now.


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