where I come from, teaching faith is nothing unique to 'faith schools' all secondary schools have compulsory R.E. class (religious education) with primary and secondary schools having religious based assembly's in the mornings.  Also, special assembly's for religious holidays are a given before time off for such events.  

I also have the memory of having to re sight the 'lords prayer' before lunch in primary school.  Hearing, what must have been well over 100 young people drone out the words robotically before being able to eat, lead by the head master.  (I really think that was the start of my more militant anti indoctrination views, so well done to them, you created an enemy.)

Since I have left school, I have had a growing anger to what I was subjected to and also what young people are still having forced on them today.

This is something I still feel passionate about.  I'm an informal educator and as such, I feel that young people should be allowed space to come to their own thoughts on this.  And to respect others views regardless of their own.  I keep my atheist views at home, and when asked, I encourage young people to think for them selves, to always ask questions and never be afraid to change their minds.  To this end, I regularly butcher the quote “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”― Voltaire 

I leave my secular views at home, listen to the views of others and ensure a space where exploration of beliefs and views can be done in safety and without persecution.  I find it more than sickening then, that while I'm doing this, government funded school systems are teaching "religious education" which in fact turns out to be Christian education.  (I wouldn't even mind so much if the curriculum of this class was divided explore all beliefs and to also include the arguments against them)

The Questions I would like to put to the Think Atheist Community-

  1. I Would like to know what people think about this in general? 
  2. Is this regular in most of the world, and if so, is this a more extreme case or less so?
  3. is there anything that can be done to help stop this type indoctrination? 

I would also like to hear, if that's possible, from -

  1. Someone who supports this type of thing, regardless of religion and country.  Please, with details of why it should be one religion over another? why it should be compulsory for young people of a secular nature? is church not enough without this kind of teaching?
  2. Someone who Shares my view, and is also in education on any level.  How have you managed to deal with conflicting views? Have you ever found you views to get in the way of being neutral? What is your worst moment when dealing with parents on beliefs? Have you ever been forced to teach material that you view as 'wrong' because of you beliefs, or lack of?

I do respect that I have any conflict of interests in this matter, I really think that no one could claim not to, as anyone in a position of trust also has their own beliefs.  I would like to say, however, that I manage them by continually reflecting on how I react to particular subjects and questions.  by tying to never tie my own values up with how I treat any of the people I work with.

Thank you to the Think Atheist community who took the time to read this.  I hope it was, at the least, an easy read and interesting.  I hope that I can find people who feel strongly about this subject, I know that if I can, I'l find them here.

Tags: curriculum, education, educator, faith, government, indoctrination, religion, school, secular, teacher

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The unfortunate thing is, people can very seldom agree on what should be considered their 'rights'.

According to me, any right imaginable is a right, and ends where it infringes on the rights of others, or where others infringe upon it. I believe that rights come from ourselves, from the fact of our existence, not from the law; the law only protects and (partially) enumerates, it does not create or grant rights. They are inborn - God-given, except without the god. Rights also end when others of sufficient strength interfere with them. Examples are slavery, jail sentences, bedtimes. Some infringements are "just" while others are "unjust." This distinction is a difficult one to tackle in an objective sense. Take for example, Alber Saber, the atheist blogger in Egypt who is in jail for blasphemy and might be executed for apostasy if things get worse. His jailors believe they are justly infringing his rights, while we feel that his detention is unjust. Everyone in jail, I would argue, retains the right to freedom that comes with their continued existence, but it has been decided that they are to be denied that right in the interest of society (or other interests). I believe that rights can only ever be denied, never granted.

In the case of religion in schools, the interplay of rights becomes difficult to parse: the rights of parents to direct the raising of their children; the rights of children, as individuals worthy of respect, not to be lied to; the rights of religious people to practice their perceived mandates; the rights of communities to set their own social mores; the rights of individuals to some control over how their tax dollars are spent; others that I can't think of. These all meet in some sort of escheresque intersection and it takes some sophisticated thinking to get to the root of the issue. Unfortunately, sophisticated thinking is not something that is taught in US schools, and in fact the merest appeal to rationality is met with outcry of infringements of rights.

Yea. its hard enough to get people to agree with basic human rights when they overlap or clash as you say.  When you bring religion into it, and people start expecting everything they are told to expect in their respective religious texts, and when those 'rights' clash with others, that's when you really have problems.

I can see the reason for secular schools, not just as an atheist, not just as an educator against indoctrination, but as someone who realises that you cant hit a middle ground between two religions who think the entirety of the other should be dead.  Even in a world without atheists or agnostics, Dis allowing all religious material from schools seems like the closest thing to fair.  

That said, if we lived in a world with no atheists or agnostics, I believe WWIII would have ended with the world being wiped out with nukes.  Or, would we have had enough logical thinkers to have made nuclear power in the first place? completely hypothetical anyway, I'm quite easily side tracked

I grew up in Canada. A secular nation pretending to be 'religious' to appease many newly arrived citizens. I grew up in a catholic school, went to public middle school and 2 years of high school - completely secular with NO religion at all and NONE offered. I went to a catholic school for my grade 12 year because I was tired of the poor quality of teaching I was receiving in the public system - I was bored due to teachers who were not up to date on the stuff they were teaching (this was LONG before google... when we actually read books and shit...)

my kids went to a private Christian school that basically focused on a relationship with jesus and did very little to teach them anything they could use in the real world. 2 struggled with school and did not finish and the other took 4 years to do grade 12 but finished.. they learned very little from the schools, but I made sure they knew how to think critically and question everything.. including what I was telling them.. that was worth more to them than all the edumacation they received at the religious school!!

religion should be taught at home, not as a system of education funded by non-religious taxpayer. USA and Canada are falling further and further behind the rest of the world in science and math as this 'hot debate' rages and rips the school systems apart as teachers are TOLD to teach religion as a real subject!

parents who want to abuse their kids should do it at home, not in a school system I am paying for...

just some random thoughts for a snowy sunday...

"(this was LONG before google... when we actually read books and shit...)" haha, I like that. google really has changed the world all hail the all mighty google! thou shal not question google!

I find it very interesting that you had to go to a religious private school, one would think that with so many secular state schools there may be a secular private school.  After all, not everyone who wants and can afford the best for their children is religious.

It's such a pity about your children having such a poor experience in their schools.  That said, the most important thing a young person can learn, in my mind, is love for learning.  Everything else will come with time and learning will not stop when school finishes for them.  From what you said, I'm sure you have taught them this well.

The passion against religion creeping into your schools is admirable, its interesting (though sad) to hear that Canada is moving in the other direction.  I really didn't expect that, please send or post updates on how that goes as I think its a quite unique case (or at least I hope it is)

I hope you and the secular community of Canada the best of luck in the coming battles for the mental freedom of your youth.  Fight them hard and with any reasonable, weapons at your disposal comrade. (proverbial  weapons, don't go running in with a machete)

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