Honors English Ten
October 6 2014
Church and State; Still Separated?
In America, over 87% of people have their own specific religious beliefs. How would you feel if you were forced to be taught and questioned about topics that directly go against those beliefs? Many students today experience this daily when their teachers discuss the ideas of other religions in public school classes. When teenagers that are of atheist or agnostic beliefs are expected to know the history and teachings of a religion that bases all aspects of life on the idea of a greater being, they can become very uncomfortable or offended by the extreme difference in opinions. Some religions have completely different beliefs that involve different Gods, or even the nonexistence of a greater being at all. As an atheist in the public school system, I know first hand of the awkwardness created by teachers talking about bible stories. When put in this situation, students cannot effectively learn. Public school teachers should be prohibited from talking about religion in class to prevent students from being put into situations that make their learning environment uncomfortable, having their own personal beliefs challenged, and from being tested on ideas that they are unaware about.
When a teacher begins to discuss the beliefs of a specific religion in class, a student who has different beliefs through another religion becomes very uncomfortable. Supporters of religious education in public school classrooms debate that the constitution mentions religious rights of citizens, stating that the practicing of a religion can not be prohibited. Though they are correct in saying this, they forget that learning is a right that everyone possesses and that their words are distractive and disruptive of the learning process for those who do not share their beliefs and religion. A student may feel very misplaced when the majority of the rest of the class practices the same religion other than he/she, which is most likely to be Christianity with 78.4% of Americans being involved with it, according to the Pew Research Center's poll on religion in 2007. As for the rest of American citizens, they may be one of few or even the only one to practice a specific religion in that class, causing he/she to become out casted or isolated from the majority. A learning environment should be a place in which the student can be accepted and feel welcomed in order to learn effectively. When you are busy worrying about being different, you cannot focus on studies or the real lesson in class. Peer pressure can set in when the student feels the need to fit in with their peers, distracting them from focusing on school work. If public school teachers were prohibited from discussing the topic of religion, peer pressure would stop occurring. This issue is something that schools should be trying to abolish, rather than help to initiate it. initiate it.
Situations in which the majority of students are talking about their own religion, which differs from other students' religious beliefs, make the different students feel as if their own beliefs are being challenged. Some people may argue that citizens have the right to practice their own religion, which is true. But the real issue is not that they practice their religions, it is that they are actually teaching about the different beliefs from their particular religions. Some may even begin to question their own religion, thinking that if everyone else believes in opposing opinions, that theirs must be wrong. Since the constitution was written in 1787, the concept of separating church and religion from the state and government has been accepted. Public schools, being a government run program, should not involve religious teachings to help sustain this law. As the constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", saying that government programs