Here is my participation in the Faith Roundtable published this date in the Hill Country News:
Schools and Religion
This question is truly powerful. We live in a global culture, which, of necessity, must include all of us and all of our thinking.
I grew up in a small town in West Virginia. In our town there were Christians and several Jewish families. And when I say Christians I am including snake handlers and Catholics! Somehow we all got along. But religion was something that took place at church and at home. Education took place at school and at home.
The common denominator is HOME. If religion is not taught at home and schoolwork is not done at home, we have lost our way. And it is clear we have lost our way.
As our society and our institutions crumble as part of the process of entering a new paradigm, the warrior class has decided to turn the schools into a battlefield. No wonder there is such pressure to religionize the schools. But the children, who are going to live their lives in the new paradigm, are reflecting what they are learning at home and from their peers, not from some rule that demands kids pray at school, when they do not pray at home.
And, then there is the problem of Christian parochial schools. Local Christian schools teach religion, but then they turn right around and teach exclusiveness and separation from others not like them. And just for good measure, they affirm that evolution is not real and science is godless. Christian Parochial schools seem to be the focus of separation.
The education system, however, is not a sane place for a religious war. Now that American education ranks 27th in results worldwide, we are faced with deciding if education is even important. I heard a country song on KUTX last week and it was titled, “Life is hard, harder still if you are stupid.” It will get really hard in America if we do not pay attention and put our money where it is needed.
No one is prohibited from praying anywhere in the world, unless you mean standing up and repeating words that someone else has written. When it comes to sharing your heart’s wishes, your gratitude and your deepest problems with God, this is best done in your closed-door closet.
That is another way of saying that we grownups need to model the behavior we want to see in our children. If they see us concerned about the quality of our education system and the sincerity of our religious beliefs, they will know what is important.
And if they see our religion and our schools as a battlefield…..well, they will learn that too.
Things are changing at a speed beyond our control, and often beyond our awareness. This really is a time of a global paradigm change.
As grownups, we do well to put high energy into our schools, accepting all the help we can get and displaying our religion in our hearts and not on our sleeves or as bumper stickers or as fish symbols on our cars.
We Americans have become experts at fighting meaningless battles while the real issues remain hidden and un-discussed. Ask yourself these questions: Exactly who has a vested interest in our children growing up to be less educated than our adults? Who benefitted when The Real Texans rejected almost $800 Million in federal funds to improve our schools? Does someone out there believe that the dumber our kids are, the better? Has someone decided that we will not need workers in the future, so we do our best to keep them dumb and dumber so that they can be easily manipulated? And what do we say when a 16 year old student gives us a hand written note someone has sent him, and asks us to read it because “I can’t read cursive.”?