Right Side-Reading, Writing ... And Religion?
Having Kids Who Have No Respect For God Or Other Faiths Is An Indication That Our Families And Local Churches, Not Schools, Are Failing
Dave Parker explores the issue of religion in schools
If you turn right at the end of my street, it will bring you to Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in one mile. Turn left, and you’ll ﬁnd yourself at Providence Elementary in roughly the same distance. If you’d like for your child to have religion as part of the curriculum, I suggest you make that right turn. Otherwise, I know of quite a few churches who would love to have them.
The ﬁrebrand issue of religion in schools is a bafﬂing one to me, seeing as how we have schools that specialize in that kind of thing. Yes, those schools are usually pricey, but last time I checked churches don’t charge admission. Point being, if it’s tending to the soul you seek, your search will be short. If it’s tending to readin’, writin’, ’n ’rithemetic, your tax dollars are hard at work.
First, let’s consider the issue of prayer in school, even though the Supreme Court rightly ruled in1962 that it’s unconstitutional. Why isn’t that an offense to your church-going cherub’s freedom of religion? Because they’re trapped in the classroom. If you don’t have the freedom to come and go as you please at an establishment, and a prayer is uttered, that’s classiﬁed as coercive, and that’s a no no.
But where schools, evidently staffed by litigious weary sycophants, go awry, is the banning of all religious symbols or messages by the student body. Why is it ok to wear a cross on a necklace but not on a shirt? Why is it ok to wear a WWJD bracelet, but not written on your jeans? None of these symbols is coercive or intimidating. The Supreme Court ruled as much in April of this year when Justice Kennedy stated that we have no reasonable expectation to be shielded from religious messages in the public square. How local school boards don’t understand the difference between establishing a religion by authorities and expression of religion by students, is troubling, given that they’re teaching government. Are there limitations to this expression that each school board must consider? Of course. Yet the outright banning of any religious words or symbols in a school system for fear that it might offend someone is not only riddled with the word pansy, it offers a warped protection when none is needed.
With that said, I ﬁnd it interesting the importance that some of my Christian brothers and sisters place on things like prayers at school football games and posting the Ten Commandments in the school lobby. My question to these people would be, “If these things went away, what is it you fear?” If the fear is that not having some type of religious message at school is further evidence of the “War on Christianity,” then what does that say about the job parents are doing in teaching the Good Book at home? I think it’s a safe bet that parents aren’t sending kids to school to make up for their lackluster church attendance. Think of it this way; we send them to school, but we bring them to Sunday School. Not having prayers, or the like, in schools is not an indication that schools are failing the kids, or perpetuating the ruination of our faith-leaning society. Having kids who have no respect for God or other faiths is an indication that our families and local churches are failing.
Communities become strong by a number of ways, including better schools and more active churches. Yet, there should be no connection between the two. Because consider this: us conservative parents are always shouting that schools should stick to what they know best and leave the parenting up to us for crying out loud! It would follow that as much guff as we give schools about the SOL, they surely would screw up GOD.
Dave Parker hosts The Dave Parker Show on AM 790 WNIS weekdays from 10 a.m.–noon. He can also be heard each afternoon on US1061 and reached at email@example.com. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two daughters.
Editor’s Note: Left Side/Right Side is an ongoing CoVa column debating both local and national issues important to Coastal Virginia residents. The opinions expressed by our writers do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Coastal Virginia Magazine staff. To suggest a topic or share your comments, e-mail Melissa Stewart at Melissa@CoastalVirginiaMag.com.