Religion in the Schools

Bill Echols
Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Among the problems facing Christians in their efforts to teach their children the way of the Lord is the large amount of contrary doctrine being taught in the public schools. Although Bible reading and prayer have I been banned, far more dangerous and subtle types of atheism and sectarianism are being taught in nearly all public schools of the country.

Many sectarian religious ideas and practices become deeply involved in the actual curricula of the classrooms. This forces the child to participate or suffer in his grades. Among the most obvious examples of this is the recognition and celebration of Christmas in the schools. With Christmas programs and class work, the many false ideas of this Catholic and pagan holiday are taught even to students who are conscientiously opposed. The lower the grade level, the more emphasis there is. This makes it even harder because the younger child finds it difficult to reject the authority of the teacher.

It is refreshing to see that some are beginning to oppose this corruption of the public schools. The American Jewish Congress has charged that such observances, including Hanukkah, violate the recent Supreme Court decisions. Thomas Mann, a lawyer and national vice president of the organization, said, "Devotional practices such as nativity scenes, the lighting of candles and other acts of sectarian observances in the public schools violate the guarantees of religious liberty and church-state separation contained in the First Amendment."

Mann also observed that such observances in the school "cause hurt and embarrassment to children whose religious beliefs are infringed upon by what they may be required to do in order to participate in school religious ceremonies . . . religion in the public schools  no matter how dressed up or watered downserves only to harass, hurt and dislocate children of minority faiths and to impair wholesome classroom relationships."

For the years that our children have been in school we have had to ask that they be excused from such observances and often from the school itself. As one objecting parent in hundreds, my voice has not been heard. If more people would oppose sectarianism in the schools, changes would be made.

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 11, p 1a August 1966