Wishing Church and State Were MORE Separate

You may have noticed a few threads on violations of the concept of separation of church and state in GD. You also may have noticed some politicians, educators and clergy spouting about the moral bankruptcy of America and the need for ‘values education’ or variants on that theme which are largely thinly veiled religious indoctrination courses.

You also may have noticed the perpetual attempts to wheedle religion into our public school systems. The United States Supreme Court has consistently tossed bringing religion into the classroom out the door yet the attempts continue (ala Kentucky and Indiana currently trying to display the Ten Commandments in school).

By virtue of Columbine and other tradgedies like it some argue that this is necessary before or children self-destruct. Others don’t see the big deal unless the religious indoctrination is overt and manifestly compelling in the school. A prayer before a school football game would be ok in their view.

However, perhaps (organized) religion is the problem! If not the problem then it certainly is NOT the answer because the United States is already the one of the MOST religious nations in the Western world…

In addition, in 1997 55% of teenagers reported attending church (or whatever it is for their religion) weekly. This number has also been very stable for the last two decades (High 59% in 1986, Low 45% in 1992). (*Source: http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/Wh_338.html#804 *)

On top of that religion invading our schools has a measurable effect on the knowledge our kids possess. The United States ranks LAST among Western nations in knowledge relating to Human Evolution (High: East Germany-81.6% correct answers, Low: United States-44.2% correct answers). The source for this is the same as the quote I finish with below as it relates directly to this point.

I’m all for teaching values in school but since when does religion have a hammerlock on morals and values? Teach Philosophy and Ethics. Heck, you can even bring religion’s impact in these regards when discussing ethics but beyond that KEEP RELIGION OUTTA MY SCHOOLS!

If you want to teach your children religion fine…do it at church.

*Source: http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/bishop_19_3.html *

Not to mention the fact that even within the United States, the most religious areas and people have higher rates of crime, divorce, etc. than the so-called “hotbeds of secular humanism.” See http://slate.msn.com/Features/godmurder/godmurder.asp

Preach on Brother Jeff!

er…maybe I should rephrase that a little…

If God doesn’t exist then why do you care? What’s the worst that can happen?

BTW, to anyone who participated in my thread about America being/not being founded as a Christian nation I apologize for not posting more. A few things came up and I didn’t get on line for a while.

The worst that can happen?

I can be denied basic rights because of my religion or lack thereof. For example, I could have a major vice-presidential candidate claim (in effect) that were everyone to believe what I did, society would be immoral, and therefore, by extension, I myself am immoral. I could have a President claim that I’m not really a citizen of this country (re:George Bush Sr. and athiests). I could be told that I could never be President because no one would trust me because of how I worshipped (every Catholic up to, and including Kennedy).

I can have my child ostracized, beaten up, and humiliated because he doesn’t fit “society”'s standard of worship.

I can be ostracized, beaten up, and humiliated because I don’t fit “society”'s standard of worship.

I can watch inane laws beings created and enforced which go directly against the grain of the society’s religion, but which are demanded by those looking at obscure and long-forgotten rules and misinterpretations of said religion’s books. (For example- despite being admonished to love thy neighbor and judge not lest ye be judged, we have laws on the books to prevent sodomy and refuse to allow homosexual marriage.)

jenkinsfan said:

Children would be taught against their faith. Indoctrination…everyone’s favorite euphemism for brain washing. I’m an atheist in a public school and I’ve found many examples of religion there.

Being taught against one’s own belief is not a very fun thing. I’m sure you’d be disgusted, jenkinsfan, if your schoolchildren were taught that atheism was better than any other religion. You’d probably take them out of that school, in fact. Leave the religious indoctrination to the parents. Better yet, let children decide themselves what they want to believe. Don’t have other people do it for you, and especially not in public school.

Hey Jenkinsfan is that you? What’s up bud? How have you been can you guess who this is?

Well let’s see. God doesn’t exist, let’s look at the most religious countries (contrary to what Joe says it’s not the US); Iran, and Afghanistan. Would you really want to live there jenkinsfan? Nope. Didn’t think so. That’s why we want more seperation.
Although I do have serious problems with the way speration of church and state is carried out in Turkey. I don’t think anyone on this board is that rabid an atheist. Which also brings another point. You can be seriously anti-religion and not an atheist. I have a Turkish friend who is muslim, and yet supports her government’s actions. That to me boggles the mind.


The authority for the assertion is a 1991 poll that attempted to measure religosity. The countries in the poll, in the order of the percentage of people who agreed with the statement that “I know God exists and I have no doubt about it,” were the Philippines, Poland, United States, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Hungary, Austria, New Zealand, West Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain, Slovenia, Norway, Russia, East Germany. To say that the US is one of the most religious nations in the Western world, when it came in 3rd out of 17, seems a bit of a stretch to me, even if you conceded that the set of nations was representative of the Western world. (Admittedly, the US was higher on the lists of people who believe in Heaven, Hell, and the Devil).

jenkinsfan, you are asking “what is the worst that could happen” with the assumption that the religion being pushed in the schools is yourreligion. Let’s pretend that instead of Christianity, Hinduism is being taught. I now ask you, “If you don’t believe in Shiva and Brahmin, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Something tells me you’d see why it was a big deal.

I didn’t state myself very clearly.

If a person doesn’t believe in a god of any sorts why would that same person care if those around him pray out loud- even when on government property? I never agree with forcing someone to see my ways of religion, but at the same time I don’t see why an atheist has a problem with children praying at school. Please explain. Thank you.

I honestly don’t care if Hindus pray openly at schools. My faith is my faith. That is their faith. Their prayers aren’t going to change what I believe.

I still don’t see what it is that bugs people about open prayer to a god they don’t believe in.

Read the article posted by Opus1. It explains how a climate of fear can be created for atheists.

Jekninsfan, children can and do pray openly at public schools. Atheists do not have a problem with this. What we do have a problem with is state support of a particular religious group or belief system. This comes in the form of the government giving priority or preference to one religious group over another, or to religious beliefs in general over atheistic beliefs.

So, here are some problems that occur when government does that:

Schools remove evolution and teach creationism.
Schools use the Bible/Qu’ran/Baghavad-Gita as science and history textbook.
Children who do not belong to the “correct” (i.e. state supported) religious group are ostracized and made to feel inferior.
Children learn religious beliefs in public schools as facts, with no separation between them and non-religious beliefs.

Do you get the picture? If not, move to Iran or Afghanistan and tell me what you think of the theocracy there.

I’ve got a beef with that. Because it’s kids. If I told my six year old every day that Zorkon the Space Poodle was lord and master of the universe, demonstrated that I believed it, and further told her that upon her death she would be Doggie Treat Numero Uno if she didn’t believe it too, then she would believe it as well. It’s called indoctrination.

When my kids decide about the truth of God it will not be simply because they heard people preaching it to them all their lives. It will not be because they don’t want to be the kid who gets sent out to the hallway during prayer time. It won’t be because one of them feels bad when she gets those disapproving looks from the teacher she likes, merely because she isn’t one of the saved.

Despite the message of love and brotherhood espoused by Christianity, far too many Christians practice the exact opposite.

I think Superintendant Chalmers said it best, after hearing Ned Flanders invoke the Lord’s name over the school PA–“God has no place within these walls! Just like facts have no place within organized religion!”

Yes, I get the picture. You want your rights to freedom of religion as much as I want mine, and let me assure you that I support your rights. (Why do I sound like I’m running for office?) My puzzlement was when I assumed that skeptics do not approve of student led prayer in public schools. Is that true?

Are you even bothering to read our responses? Honestly, you seem to be blatantly ignoring our points, then asking why you haven’t heard any points.
Open prayer does not bug us. You want to start your picnic with a prayer to Jesus? Great! I don’t care. I won’t bug you, and I wouldn’t consider that bugging me.

State and institution-sanctioned prayer bugs us.

When the government says, “You may have a prayer in school”, what does that mean? It generally means a Christian prayer, which is offensive to non-Christian. Even if they try to make a non-denominational prayer, it still means that students will be forced to participate in prayer, even if they don’t believe in a God.

Failure to participate may not gather them direct state-sanctioned punishment (though it very well might), but it certainly sets them up to be ostracized and ridiculed by their fellow students, as well as set apart for punishment and ‘watching’ by the teacher who organized the prayers. If you think children and teachers are more benevolent than that, either you had a blissful childhood that was the envy of all, or you’re seriously blocking it out.
What you set up is a tyranny of the majority, where those who follow the “biggest” religion- Christianity- have all of their wants administered to, while those who don’t follow the same religion are ostracized by society. It’s one thing for society to do this, but quite another for the government to sanction and accept it as defacto. The government’s job is to secure our right to free worship, and when the government begins leaning in and saying, “Well, you’re free to worship however you want, but we’re going to worship in this way”, it’s an immediate infringement of rights.

State and institution-sanctioned prayer bugs us.

It bugs me as well. I’m for the open practice of religion on government property but not what you’re describing.

My problem is this: A few years ago a school bus driver in the state where I live wished a student on his bus, whom he knew to be a Christian, Merry Christmas. The bus driver was sued without mercy. I didn’t feel like he violated anyone else’s rights because he never said, “Merry Birth of Jesus Day” to a Jew or Budhist. No, he was attacked because he practiced his own personal religious beliefs and it had nothing to do with a state sanction.