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.

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Well, as far as the prayer goes, its 'the lords prayer' so not directly to jusus, to his dad I guess.  Though we had a hymn book, every day we had to sing a couple of religious hymns out of it to, many had jesus as a central theme.

forced prayer is one thing, having to sing "jesus loves me, this I know" is a complete insult.  However, I realised early enough in secondary school, that unlike my primary school, no one made sure you had your head down and eyes closed during prayer or that you were singing during hymns.  I'm not sure if this was because of more religiously relaxed teachers, to many pupils to deal with or what, but it was a bit of an improvement. 

I have a feeling that you can opt out with your parents permission now though, what you do instead is anyone's guess.  I remember when i went to school, there was one guy that sat outside assembly in the mornings. his parents were militantly atheist and fought the school for it.  I talked to him once, he shared his parents view on religion, but wasn't happy about the situation.  I guess no one wants to be singled out for any reason, I think he should have had the final say to be honest.

when you say 'They are fighting against student prayer in schools' is that personal private prayer or group lead prayer?  I wouldn't really have a problem with either to tell the truth, but it would have to be particular in how its done.  for instance, prayer meetings would have to be completely optional, easily avoided, not heavily advertised and with alternative activity's offered at the same time.  Perhaps during lunch breaks or after school.  I would also suggest that such meetings did not draw out of the state funded budget in any way.  I'm sure you could find a religious teacher to volunteer heir time, and have any text or handouts for their personal use could be provided by local churches. Just some ideas though.

Since I live in France, I’ve always been in public schools (I’m currently 17 and in my last year of high school). I find interesting the way the educative system really reflect its country’s values. In France we’re overly attached to secularism in all public places. You can explain that because of our history and the legacy of the enlightenment philosophers. When I say overly attached, I really mean it; you’ll never see our president pronounce any speech in which he would talk about religion without a riot the day after. We could sum up French philosophy about religion like that: “believe whatever you want to believe, we’ll do all so you can practice your religion properly, but do not talk about religion in public; at home or at your religious place (church/mosque/wherever you’d wanna go) you can be religious, but in the street, in schools or in an political places you’re a French citizen and that’s all you need to show!”. Religion is kinda like a huge taboo.

These values clearly influenced the public educative system. We do not talk about religion in any lessons (except like in History or Philosophy when we really need to but it’s restricted to the strict minimum). It’s illegal to bring any visible religious sign in a school. For example a guy couldn’t enter my high school because he had a less than 5cm cross around his neck. We also all learn evolution in class as any other science chapter. We consider that it’s not schools role to teach any religion, and we want to give to kids the keys to be able of fully understand the world and to criticize any religious thing they learn out of schools (it’s not an atheist school, but we want the kids to choose if they want to follow their parent’s religion or not).

It’s not really different in private schools. First of all, in France we love when things are public. I’ve seen some American republican say that French people are almost communist, and they’re not fully wrong; our politicians are mostly way more “to the left” politically than American. We pay so much taxes but in exchange we have some really great public services, so a huge majority of kids are in public schools. For the few kids in private schools, there’s some really strict laws. They have to learn ALL the official program (including evolution), but they can add some religious things (study of the Bible in catholic schools for example). For a big part they are financed by government (yep once again we don’t like private stuff), so if they don’t follow the laws they’ll not receive the money. But the worst things for them is that they would not be any more considered as schools ; and obviously it’s obligatory to go school so kids would still have to go to “legal” schools. I think it’s a pretty good system to guaranty religious freedom but also to limit indoctrination.

I just realized by re-reading your post that you asked 3 clear questions and I’m sorry I didn’t really answer them separately. I obviously hate the fact of teaching religion in public schools , and also the fact that you can “skip” evolution in private schools.

I appreciate this explanation, as it helps me understand what the controversy was about with Muslim clothing in the classroom. So here in the states, maybe the problem has been too much allowance of religious instruction in general (which happens to be mostly Christian) in lieu of a minimum level of academic requirements. This probably also helps to explain our lower levels of academic achievement than the rest of the civilized world.

Thats very interesting.  Street preachers are common place here.  and not the 'open your hear to jesus' airy fairy non sense, no, we get the fire and brimstone 'repent or burn in hell' on our streets. And these guys have megaphones, just in case they weren't annoying enough, now they are extra loud. I would like to have French style secular streets.

I like the way this has taken in your schools as far as the teachings go.  As far as the cross necklace, and things like that, I'm not sure.  I'd say defiantly don't have a badge that reads 'believe or burn' but I cant see the harm in a little necklace.

I think you have made a really full post here, even if you hadn't answered the questions, I'd consider them more prompts than direct questions.  You have given me more of a respect for France after reading your post.  I hadn't really given it much thought as a country, only been there once on my way to Spain and had only considered the language as something i was forced to try and flail in school (as a dyslexic i struggled enough with English at the time) But if the place is half as liberal and secular as you say it is, i kind of wish I had tried harder to learn French now :P

HI there,to the first question, the average person is born into the present situation.It is pretty the same in all parts of the world ; now in the last question , very little can be done to change the present  activity of bootlicking sky gods & and pals ruling the world with an iron fist if needed.That is the bad news.

I think even so far with exploring peoples perspectives of the schools in their local areas, there has been a wide range of attitudes to religion in schools.  Even the difference between two secular countries has been interesting to note.

As far as change goes, its always is a big job on a societal level, but I would think there is lots that can be done to help change along.  Though I would concede that seeing immediate results would be very hopeful.  Some of us are defiantly in better positions to help change than others to, but I guess its just about taking any opportunity that you can as they may present themselves.

Love the term 'sky gods & and pals', thanks for the post!

What we need to recognize and start pointing out is that the issue of religion in schools is NOT an issue of freedom of religion, but one of freedom to proselytize other people's children. Children are free to behave in accordance wit "their" religion at school (in the US, anyway). And parents are free to tell their kids any religious story they want and then to tell them to go to school and try to convince all the other kids of this story. But parents in the majority seem feel that their majority should allow them to indulge in laziness and get the school administration or diocese to do it for them. This is where the wall of separation comes into play and where the backlash against indoctrination begins. For many, their religion includes a mandate to proselytize. But the rights of one end (in theory) when they infringe on the rights of another. Thus it is the schools' responsibility, as proxy for government, to attempt to protect the freedoms of all their students equally. To endorse religion is to favor one group's freedom over that of another, in other words, to promote injustice.

I like the way you word the concepts in your post, The thought of "parents in the majority seem feel that their majority should allow them to indulge in laziness" How true this is, and unfortunately proven to work.

"the rights of one end (in theory) when they infringe on the rights of another." I couldn't count the amount of times or the amount of different ways I have shared this principal.  The unfortunate thing is, people can very seldom agree on what should be considered their 'rights'. Of course law outlines much of what is and is not considered rights, But it is often hazy when it comes to religious rights.  

I'm in no way religious, but if I was, I would really hope that I wouldn't be deluded or pretentious enough to think that I had the right to openly practice and promote my religion, at the same time as having some kind of pseudo right to not be exposed to others practising or promoting their religion.  In my mind, there is no logic in this, however I have observed that logic isn't necessarily the strong point of many of the more extreme religious people. (then I'm sure many of them would observe that I'm guilty of no small amount of cynicism when it comes to religion)

I’m glad you were interested in my answer!

But don’t imagine France better than it is; I didn’t idealize my country but I might didn’t emphasize enough on the huge flaws we also have.

Religion is a taboo so big that every time there’s a controversy in which religion is concerned directly or indirectly, it immediately become a huge deal. Pope Beanie mentioned it, the controversy about Muslim clothing in schools was so ridiculously big, like huge manifestation for or against in Paris’s boulevards…

I also think sometime we’re really extreme about secularism in schools. Honestly, I don’t care if someone as Spaghetti monster shirt, a Kippah or a cross in my high school; but to be honest I’d rather choose this extreme than the other one.

I don’t like patriotism (I don’t like the “I’m from this country therefor it’s the greatest country in the world”), but one thing I’m really proud of is French secularism. I don’t think you can really see my profile image , so there it is in a bigger format : http://www.politique-actu.com/philosophe/etat-catechise-democratie/...                        (just look the image it’s the top of the first French constitution; the website isn’t important)                                         Conspirationist  think the triangle is an illuminati sign or whatever ; but in fact  it represent the reason , the knowledge , the equality! Notice how it’s dissipating the dark clouds of ignorance. Since then French people are not anymore manipulated by religion, they are free to think, to criticize and to believe whatever they want to.  That’s what makes me sing La Marseillaise every 14th of July, not the “look we won WW1, we’re such a great country OMG !”.    


Ps: Don’t even try to learn French; it’s kinda useless (at least more than Spanish or Chinese) and incredibly hard (I’m so jealous of English, it is just way easier, better made and more convenient ^^). I also hope you’ll really visit France one day, I think it could be worth a trip. I’m personally supposed to go in Ireland (the both country) this summer, can’t wait!                                                         

You know, I had the same thought with regard to if I had to choose the secular extreme or religious extreme, I would defiantly choose the secular extreme.  I think people have the right to their religion, but more so people have the right to not have to share in it or be threatened by it.

I would agree with you on the extreme patriotism front also, it can be very exclusive and un welcoming.  But a good sense of community can be very healthy, and if you have that, I think its ok to be proud of it.

As far as that image, Thats very interesting.  I personally wouldn't just to conclusions, but symbolic patterns are so common across the world, you can really understand where the conspiracy theorists get their ammo from, to the point that I would agree that they should feel free to investigate.  After all, if it walks like a duck, and looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you would be within reason to assume it's a duck, and to require satisfactory proof to the contrary.

I really wouldn't be jealous of English if I was you, you appear to have a very strong grasp of it.  Even if you look the odd word up, your grammar and use of diction is fantastic.

I would agree with you on the extreme patriotism front also, it can be very exclusive and un welcoming.  But a good sense of community can be very healthy, and if you have that, I think its ok to be proud of it.

I think you’re right. I thought about that today, and the expression “blind patriotism” would might fit better to my idea. 

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.


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