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Religion in Schools

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Jeff, May 6, 2000.

  1. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    I read an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal today (I've been reading that paper for obvious reasons!) about a judges ruling to remove the Ten Commandments from several schools and court buildings. This came, of course, after the Supreme Court declared a Kentucky law unconstitutional that ordered the Commandments displayed in state courts.

    I was just wondering who else thought the hanging of religious documents, prayer in school and the like is just bizarre. Here's my reasons for not agreeing:

    1. It is an obvious endorsement of a particular religious belief - in this case Christianity and Judiasm. If someone wanted to put the laws from Islam, the teachings of Buddha or the wisdom of Hinduism, they wouldn't stand a chance. Freedom of religion is designed to protect those of minority religions from being dominated and subjegated by the majority religion.

    2. I wouldn't have a problem with such postings if it weren't for the fact that there is no way another religion's beliefs would be hung in a school or courthouse. There is no question in my mind that someone of another religion would be thrown out and their postings torn down if they made the same attempt.

    Same thing for prayer in school. That girl in Santa Fe who was allowed to pray a Christian prayer before a football game is a perfect example. If someone had offered prayers to Mecca or a Buddhist chant, people from the school would have freaked and ripped the mic out of his/her hands. Equality on the issue MUST be called into question.

    3. Does it really make a difference? Honestly, do any of us really believe that the simple posting of the Ten Commandments will really solve all of our problems and keep people from committing crimes?

    It reminds me of that Simpons episode where Bart wore a "Down With Homework" t-shirt he got from Mad Magazine. The sight of the shirt started a riot with students and the subsequent forcing of students to wear drab uniforms. When they did, they became incapable of being mischievous and even blinked in unison.

    My point is that this type of belief is flawed and ridiculous. This is more of an adult argument than a children's argument and, I would wager, no one really cares if they were hung there in the first place. As a result, they have no business being there.

    4. The biggest argument people can seem to muster with regards to the constitution and its religious connotation is that, while it may say we need to have religious freedom, it was written by Christians who would have never wanted freedom FROM religion.

    The main problem here is that our founding fathers were NOT Christian. They were, for the most part, Deist. Deist beliefs are similar to Wicca with the distinction that they believe in a "God" where Wiccans believe in nature as god. Diests, however, have distinctly different beliefs from Christians. In fact, most Christians believe that Diests are going to hell when they die. I know because I was brought up in Lutheran schools from K through 12!

    Our founding fathers came to America to free themselves from the religious oppression of Europe, Catholicism in particular. The point of freedom of religion was to prevent the same problems they faced in Europe at the time.


    I spent the better part of my young life as a Christian - even a born again, anti-abortion, ultra-conservative one if you can believe that! As I got older, I didn't value that belief any less so much as I grew to value other beliefs as well. There is nothing wrong with Christianity or any religion for that matter. If you want to make that your belief, that is your right.

    However, no one has the right to enforce their beliefs on me and it isn't just unconstitutional to do so - it is rude, discourteous and disrespectful.

    Soap box now relinquished...

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  2. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    Jenna's farewell
    Aggie Bonfire
    Religion in Schools

    we are testing people's soapboxes aren't we:

    btw: I have an Aggie bonfire joke if anyone is interested. Clutch doesn't allow me to use on the bbs anymore.
     
  3. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    btw Jeff, I completely agree. the constitution was all about separating church from state. But I think the argument on the other side is: Why does state get in the way of children being taught religion studies?

    let's face it: teaching kids well is all about parents and teachers (ie culture) giving a consistent message and supporting each other's effort. I think many people are worried about brainwashing kids with religion. I think that's overstated. It is more important that parents and teachers work together and allow flexible learning environments that include ALL important messages (religion counts here) than to totally ignore a huge curriculum like religion.

    The school argument I can listen to and accept. Religion from the state anywhere else (in our adult lives) is completely and utterly against one of the primary goals of our constitution. I completely agree with that.

    [This message has been edited by heypartner (edited May 06, 2000).]
     
  4. TheFreak

    TheFreak Contributing Member

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    If you're going to take take religion out of schools, what about the Pledge of Allegiance? Doesn't it say "...One Nation, under GOD"?

    In Austin a few years ago, they used to air the "Dennis Prager Show", which I thought was the best show on TV (Prager also has a nationally-syndicated radio show, I believe). This guy was just full of common sense (also check out "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News if you like DP). Anyway, he came up with one of the best quotes I've ever heard anywhere, and it was on this very same topic (separation of Church and State). He said "If I was walking down the street by myself at night, and looked up and saw a group of teenagers walking towards me, I would feel a lot better if I knew that they had just come from BIBLE STUDY".

    In my view, there is not much wrong with what Jeff has described. With all the other problems out there right now, why be so concerned that kids may become interested in a certain religion?

    Of course many will point out that the Constitution requires the separation of church and state, but when it is pointed out that the Constitution also calls for the right to bear arms, they will look for ways to get around that in order to support their particular agenda.

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    [This message has been edited by TheFreak (edited May 06, 2000).]
     
  5. BobFinn*

    BobFinn* Contributing Member

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    Agree with you 100% jeff. Is it me or does "Freedom" have a lot of baggage? Is it any wonder these kids join cults and worship the devil?

    And whats up with the "in God we trust" on the almighty dollar? Has Hakeem or any other non-christian ever said anything about this?

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  6. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    Actually, the Pledge of Allegiance has a very shaky past anyway - it was certainly not created by the founders - here's a little history from Dr. John Baer, author of "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Centinnial History - from 1892-1992" :

    Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892.

    His original Pledge read as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.

    In 1923 and 1924 the National Flag Conference, under the 'leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge's words, 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.' Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored.

    In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

    Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change. He had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.


    As you can see, the pledge's creator wouldn't even agree with the current pledge. Just a brief history.

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  7. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    Hey, Bob. One person did a few years ago at least with regard to the national anthem and he was villified: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

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  8. BobFinn*

    BobFinn* Contributing Member

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    ahhh yes, aka Chris Jackson [​IMG]

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  9. DREAMer

    DREAMer Member

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    Jeff,

    Do you remember me defending Abdul-Rauf?

    -------------------------------

    Let me start by saying, I am a Christian. I don't know which denomination I consider to be most closely linked with. If I had to choose, I think I would choose "The Assembly of God" church. My father was a minister in that church for a few years when I was a youngster.

    Now I have many many opinions when it comes to religion, morality, responsibility, etc. I have an unbelievable amount of resources at my disposal when it comes to religion. One of my uncles used to be a Roman Catholic Priest. My Dad was a minister in the Assembly of God Church, and another of my uncles is a minister in the Episcopalian Church. Not that I choose to believe every single thing they tell me, but man it's such a great asset. I really am greatful for it.

    One thing that I've come to believe is that in the Constitution, the "Seperation of Church and State" was meant to block the government from forcing any religion on anyone. It, IMO, did not mean that there could be absolutely NO religion in governmental activities.

    Many government officials have religious beliefs, and their decisions are predicated on these beliefs, and therefore you cannot and will not ever take religion completely out of the governmental process.

    As already stated the government makes money with the phrase, "In God We Trust" on it. That is made by the government. You cannot deny it, and you cannot argue it. It is done. So, why is that? I don't know. Many Christians that I know find it offensive that the word "God" is put on something that has nothing to do with Him, and something that can be negative in so many ways. I myself, could do without it being on there.

    Now about the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance". That to is endorsed by the government. I don't think anyone would argue that. I remember having to say it in school. I don't think many public schools still do that. But, whatever, if it was taken out, I think there would be a HUGE outcry, in fact, I don't think it would ever happen.

    What about when the President of the United States is sworn in? Doesn't he swear on a Bible? Why is that?

    So you see, religion has not been completely eliminated from government and I don't think, or hope, it ever will.

    My main reason for wanting religion to be present in everyday life it because of morals. Where do morals come from? Answer: Religion. Sure, there are people who consider themselves athiests who are moral, but the essence of morals still come from religion and it's rules and guidelines for life. I think that the less a role religion plays in the life of the average person, the lower the morality of a society gets.

    -------------------------------

    Now, on to the question at hand.

    I don't think the Ten Commandments should be placed up on a public school's walls, unless any other religion that cares to be represented is also placed in a similar way.

    I personally believe that Christianity is the only way to an eternal life with God. I think every other religion is wrong. But, I also know that God gave humans the freedom to choose, and who would I be to try and take that right away? I'm not God. So, if someone chooses not to follow Him, that is there choice and I should not condemn them, persecute them, or discriminate in any way against them. I have many friends who are not Christians. I have many who are. I have many who are bad Christians.... (man, I must have a lot of friends)

    True Christianity is about forgiveness, love, and tolerance. Anyone who teaches anything that is contrary to these, is not teaching true Christian values. I think abortion is wrong, but killing abortion doctors isn't right either, even though emotionally, I want to think it is, spiritually I realize that it isn't. To teach that people who are not Christians are going to hell, is maybe a necesary evil, but to say specific people (Athiests, Agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Mormons, whoever) are going to hell is against Christian principles. We, as Christians, do not have the right to say who is and who isn't going to Heaven or hell. That would be judging them, and we are not allowed to judge others. That is up to God, not us.

    I am very saddened at the reputation Christianity gets from people around the world. There are too many people out there teaching that people much choose Christianity or go to hell. Well, the truth is, they don't have to. It's their choice. I am all for missionaries and things like that, but many times they give the wrong impression on what Christianity is all about. While I was in Jamaica last year for my one year anniversary, I was talking to this guy who followed many of the Rastafarian religious principles. We got to talking about religion and he told me all about some of the things he believed in. He did say that he wasn't a true Rastafarian, because he did not believe in their god, who happened to be this man from Africa. Anyways, he told me of his negative experience with Christian missionaries in Jamaica. He told me how they would preach to the poor people and ask for donations. These people, most of whom were living in lean-to shanties would give them their money, what little they had. Then, they would see these same missionaries living in nice brick homes, and driving fancy cars, etc. I told him some of my beliefs and what I thought true Christianity was, and I think I made an impression him. I may not have converted the guy. But, now whenever he thinks of Christians, I sure hope he remembers our conversation and his impression of me, instead of the money grubbing missionaries he is exposed to there in his own country.

    One other thing. Here's a (short) list of religions, worldwide, in order of number of people who profess to believe in one.

    1. Christians
    2. Muslims
    3. Hindus (I am almost positive)

    So, if you're a Christian, don't get discouraged. There's plenty of us out there. [​IMG]
     
  10. MoonBus

    MoonBus Contributing Member

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    Jeff, I agree with your assessment 100% and thanks for the little history about the 'Pledge of Allegiance'.

    HP,
    let's face it: teaching kids well is all about parents and teachers (ie culture) giving a consistent message and supporting each other's effort. I think many people are worried about brainwashing kids with religion. I think that's overstated. It is more important that parents and teachers work together and allow flexible learning
    environments that include ALL important messages (religion counts here) than to
    totally ignore a huge curriculum like religion.

    Who decides what that consistent message is? One would say "Oh, let's teach them Christianity when they are young and then let them decide what religion to believe when they are grown up"? Another would say "Why not teach them the ways of a Muslim first?" And another would say "You know what I don't believe in God or agree with any religions out there, why are you putting ideas in my child's mind that I have to "flush" out later on." Another thing is, how does a Christian parent answer a question such as "Why are you eating that meat, Mommy & Daddy?", if their kid was taught another belief in school?

    When it comes to religion, we can NEVER come to a consistent message.

    Yes, I worry about brainwashing children with religion. We worry about pornography, violence and such exposure for children, why shouldn't we be concern with religion? After all, isn't religion suppose to be about a way of life? Don't say religion isn't as damaging as pornography & violence, because it is. If you are a Christian and your kid is fed with Buddhism, wouldn't you look at the kid as being emotional damaged?

    Freak,
    If I was walking down the street by myself at night, and looked up and saw a group of teenagers walking towards me, I would feel a lot better if I knew that they had just come from BIBLE STUDY
    Not really, if I was bald and wearing a robe (monk). Seriously, there is so much religious intolerence that what I just said may be true. They may not beat me up, but they may spit at me or make some unkindly remarks.

    With all the other problems out there right now, why be so concerned that kids may become interested in a certain religion?
    Because if religion is a way of life (which most followers believe it to be), then it is a big deal.

    ...but when it is pointed out that the Constitution also calls for the right to
    bear arms, they will look for ways to get around that in order to support their particular agenda.

    I agree, society in general is hypocritical.

    DREAMer,
    I remember you defending Abdul-Rauf. You were one of the few.
    Too bad that I haven't met too many Christians like you. Most of them does leave a bad impression on me with the things that you've described. I know not all Christians are like the ones I know, but it's hard for me to defend them when I am talking to other non-Christians.

    My main reason for wanting religion to be present in everyday life it because of morals. Where do morals come from? Answer: Religion. Sure, there are people who consider themselves athiests who are moral, but the essence of morals still come from religion and it's rules and guidelines for life.
    Can not agree with you on that totally. The reason why I say that is because of Taoism. I don't really consider Taoism a religion, because it doesn't believe in ONE divine power. (I am not a Taoist, so I may be wrong on this.) Taoism is a teaching of a way of life alongside nature. It also teaches morality. Morality can be taught without a religious reference. "Treat others as you would like to be treated." is an example. I am not advocating that religion has no place in teaching morals, but it is not a necessity. I do think it makes it easier.
     
  11. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    TheFreak

    Thanks for pointing out the weakness of my words there. "Consistent Message" needed to be explained more.

    What I meant was a Consistent Message from the experience of each individual kid. Meaning that if a family wants their kid to learn religion, the other learning environments the children spends time at should support that. Otherwise, you have a didactic dichotomy where one teacher (the parent) seems to be contradicting the professional teacher from the perpective of the child.

    I did not mean for Consistent Message to imply everyone should learn the same thing.
     
  12. Azim da Dream

    Azim da Dream Member

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    DREAMer,
    I am about 99% sure that Hinduism does not believe in one divine power. I have a few Hindu friends and am certain that they have hundreds, if not thousands of Gods, a lot of whom are statues, etc. Sikhism, on the other hand, does believe in one God. You may be crossing the two religions, because they do tend to be confused quite often, due to their close geographical proximity to each other in India.

    Jeff,
    I have to agree with you here. How can a country that preaches freedom, equal rights and multiculturalism only preach and advocate one religon out of a countless others? Sure, each faith has its own separate private school system, but why should a Jewish parent or a Buddhist parent be deprived of sending their child to a public mainstream school without worrying they will be influenced my another faith that they did not learn at home?

    Azim da Dream

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  13. DREAMer

    DREAMer Member

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    "One other thing. Here's a (short) list of religions, worldwide, in order of number of people who profess to believe in one.

    1. Christians
    2. Muslims
    3. Hindus (I am almost positive)"



    Sorry for the confusion. By, "people who profess to believe in one.", I meant people who profess to believe in a religion. Because there are people who do not consider themselves part of any religion. My fault for not making that more clear.

    ----------------------------

    Moonbus,

    Unfortunatey, I know exactly what you mean. Many people who say they are Christians sure don't act like it much of the time. But, maybe not in defense of them, but in defense of Christianity, whenever someone says that they are a Christian, people try as hard as they can to find something wrong with them. Christians are human too, and allowed to make mistakes.

    On Taoism: Just because a religion doesn't have one god doesn't mean that it isn't a religion. A good example are the Native American religions. They believed more in spiritst that inhabited nature, than a true god in the the usual sense, but they were still all religions.

    But, hey I never said everyone had to agree with me. If that ever did happen I'd go crazy, because I wouldn't have anyone to argue with! [​IMG]

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  14. Jeff

    Jeff Clutch Crew

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    Thanks for all the posts everyone.

    My main argument with the concept of religious tolerence is that it is nearly impossible to tolerate what you don't clearly understand. There are so many misconceptions about various religions.

    As for morality, religion actually is not the sole basis for morality. Voltaire actually cataloged a wide variety of societal culture in some of his work (as did Des Cartes) and they agreed that every culture had particular beliefs that held them together and that there were even things that tied every culture together with regard to spiritual beliefs.

    Religion, per se, did not form the basis for morality in culture. That was done through a complex system of spiritual beliefs, cultural ideals and social ideals. If we were to assume that religion was the sole basis of morality, we would also have to assume that those who practiced religion zealously were moral.

    As we all know, many atrosities were performed in the name of various religious beliefs. In addition, nearly all religions have a central character that has either furthered of been the basis for practices. For example:

    Christianity first had "God" and, to a lesser extent, Abraham as its "founders". That is why Islam, Judiasm and Christianity are considered "Abrahamic" religions because they all had their roots in Abraham and the Old Testement Bible.

    Christianity, unlike Judiasm, however, was re-directed and shaped by Jesus and Islam by Mohammed. Each brought their own sense of value and personality to religion.

    In Hinduism, Shiva (God in Hindi) was the creator with hundreds of other gods and godesses radiating out from that center. Ghandi then came along and re-directed the path of Hinduism to include more service to mankind and passive resistance.

    Buddhism started with Siddhartha, a Hindu prince who learned of suffering and turned his meditative practice into enlightenment. Buddhists are a "non-theistic" religion meaning they do not believe in "God" but in a single unifying force that binds us all. In essense, we are God.

    Other notables including Zen (an offshoot of traditional Buddhism, kind of the equivalent of Catholicism's relationship to Protestant Christianity), Taoism, Confusionism, Zoro Astrianism, Mormon and Wicca all have a personalities that come from their founders or practitioners throughout the centuries.

    All of these play an important role in the moral development of society, but only society dictates what is tolerable by today's standards. The death penalty by Christ's standards is wrong, but many Christians I know believe strongly in it and find no irony in the fact that the person they worship was put to death.

    Wiccans, despite being peaceful and nature-centered, still cause controversy in society today because of religious beliefs about witches and witchcraft.

    The fact is that "morality" stands on shaky, ever-changing soil. Religion may be able to lay claim to some of the moral guidelines we have today but it can also be blamed for many of the immoral atrocities we have suffered and continue to suffer.

    Bottom line is that all religions including Christianity (which is far from being the earliest religion we know of) find their basis in some things that those religions may find objectionable today. For instance, scholars have shown that the devil as is described in the Bible has his origins in Pan, the mythical god of mischief that predates both the Christian and Jewish religions.

    I think that we need a significantly wide base of religious, societal and historical understanding to label any society or religion as "moral" or to give them credit for forming the basis of morality itself.

    Man, did I get way off the topic or what? By the way, for info on the wide variety of religions in the world, I highly recommend "The World's Religions" by Huston Smith. It is a CLASSIC. You probably can find an inexpensive paperback version at Half Price Books. That's where I found mine.

    Oh, and one other thing on Taoism - there are even arguments among Taoists as to whether or not they are a religion or a "philosophy". I think the difference is more semantic than tangible. Taoism is one of the most peaceful and wonderful "religions" I've encountered despite its belief in "God." In fact, the majority of religions in the world are not centered around a single mono-theistic "God" but around poly-theistic "gods and goddesses" or non-theistic spirituality. Lack of belief in a God-specific tradition does not preclude someone from being religious or spiritual.
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    [This message has been edited by Jeff (edited May 07, 2000).]
     
  15. Pass 1st shoot 2nd

    Pass 1st shoot 2nd Contributing Member

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    Jeff,
    To make a rough attempt to explain constitutionality of states and the use of religion, consider safe to assume that the current state of the law is neutrality and not no interference.

    The 10 commandments are not Christian and Judaism specific. Their tenant permeate Buddhism, Hiduism and the like. Cults are not religions, so Haire Chrishnas (pardon the spelling) don't qualify for non-taxatiopn under the Internal Revenue Code.

    Moreover, consider the imposition of the ten commandments as secular society's "last resort" due to the drastic increase (real or perceived; depends on the survey you read)in violence in school.

    Anyway, if you want more info. email me and it's yours.

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  16. Lynus302

    Lynus302 Contributing Member

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    As for the Ten Commandments, they're much older than Christianity or Judaism.

    The ancient Egyptians had nine commandments, which were more or less identical to the traditional 10. I cannot remember why there were only nine...a combination of two commandments in to one, or the omission of "Thou shalt not have any other gods before me."

    I used to study mythology many years ago. I'll see if I can't find out more.

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  17. BrianKagy

    BrianKagy Contributing Member

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    Note: This remark is not directed at anyone in this thread.

    It would be nice if those opponents of posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms weren't also typically so enthusiastic about tapering the sails of contemporary curriculum to meet the winds of modern moral relativism.

    We can't have the Ten Commandments posted, but we can certainly make sure that sex education is taught at a progressively younger age.

    We can't have the Ten Commandments posted, but we can disregard mentioning abstinence as an option during the aforementioned sex education.

    We can't have the Ten Commandments posted, but we can include books like "Heather Has Two Mommies" on elementary-school reading lists.

    The Ten Commandments are inappropriate for the classroom. Condoms are not.

    Masturbation, per Joycelyn Elders, is a more suitable topic than the Ten Commandments.

    I am not particularly in favor of posting the Commandments. I just think the desire to do so is wholly understandable in light of the growing disconnect between the values of the average American household and those of the modern educational system.


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  18. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Kagy, that's too simple. The fact is that those things that you try to make sound bad, like sex education, condoms (the handing them out, not the use of [​IMG]), masturbation, are all things that occur in this world, but people don't want to deal with.

    Kids need to be educated about sex. It can kill you now. When I got my sex education in the 7th grade, I was taught that abstinence is the best option to avoid things like STDs and unwanted pregnancies. I've never heard of anyone not wanting to teach abstinence as an option. On the other hand, the chances are that the majority of kids will not practice abstinence no matter what they are taught, so at least teach and encourage them to be safe when having sex.

    I do agree that masturbation should not be "taught" in the schools. However, it is a natural act. Do you know who the two biggest liars are in the world? The 15 year-old who says he's never masturbated, and the 30 year-old who says he's quit.

    As for the "Heather has Two Mommies" book, with that type of household becoming more and more common, kids need to be educated on it. I'm not saying it should be endorsed or not, I don't think that any lifestyle should be endorsed, hetero or homosexual, but kids shouldn't be taught that that lifestyle is wrong. They should be told it exists, and that they are not any more different from you than the person sitting next to you.

    I agree with Kagy that the Ten Commandments on the surface are a good set of rules by which to live. However, it does represent a certain religious belief or beliefs. That is not allowed, nor should it be, in public schools.

    My solution would be for a class, no earlier than 5th grade, that deals with all religions. Not an endorsement of any certain religion, but to highlight the basic fundamental teachings of most religions. Most of which include many of the Ten Commandments.

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    Get your proper swirve on...visit www.swirve.com (coming in late May, for now visit www.eesite.com)

    [This message has been edited by Rocketman95 (edited May 08, 2000).]
     
  19. DREAMer

    DREAMer Member

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    I'm not at all for a class teaching kids about all religions.

    But, how about a "MORALS" class?

    Is it the job of schools to teach morals? Probably not, but shouldn't students who don't live in a well structured home have the ability to know right from wrong?

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    Wait, nevermind, I disagree with myself. That idea sounds too much like "Big Brother's Morals Class". I don't want the Gov't teaching my kids what's right and what's wrong.

    Hmmmm, the answers aren't always so easy.....

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    I have a dream.........his name's Hakeem.
     
  20. BrianKagy

    BrianKagy Contributing Member

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    Jeff, I think RM95 and I need to arrange a similar agreement. [​IMG]

    How do I think we should handle this issue...?

    Read "Teddy". It's a short story by J.D. Salinger, included in his book Nine Stories.
     

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