Is Religion In Schools Appropriate?
The Engel v. Vitale (1962) and School District of Abington Township v. Schempp (1963) U.S. Supreme Court cases create some misconceptions about what is appropriate to teach and talk about in schools. In general terms, the first one prohibits schools from requiring prayers and the second one mandated in-class Bible reading as unconstitutional.
When looking closely at those rulings, it’s clear that both of them are aimed to prevent the establishment of a specific religion and the enforcement of religious practices. Both decisions were a huge step forward for their time and are still relevant today, but people still have to see the difference between the promotion of a belief and just learning about it.
Despite possible disagreements, it is important to incorporate religion into classrooms. Freshman, Kaiden Berchin said “I do not believe that we should teach specific religious practices, but rather inform the people of the uses and practices of religion as a whole and in general terms.”
Schools could provide an option of an elective class devoted to religion studies, so students can learn about major world religions and their effects on our world politics and history. Because most high schoolers already have busy schedules, and a separate elective could be unrealistic for them, integrating a unit about religions into a world history class is an alternative. Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Cassolari says that “To truly understand the people, you have to understand the things that influence them the most.”
Talking about theology in schools doesn’t have to be a method of indoctrination.
Civil discourse in American public schools is an important part of students’ development as citizens. Compromising on this topic is what’s best for raising well-rounded and open-minded people.
American constitution, an Islamic crescent, a star of David, and a Christian cross.
Photo Credit: Viktoriia Udovichenko