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The Role Of Religion In Elementary & Secondary Education

1561 words - 6 pages

Freedom of Religion is a liberty considered by many Americans to be one of the defining aspects of their country, but a line is drawn when one person’s freedom infringes upon another's. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” “With those words, in the First Amendment to the Constitution, the fledgling United States of America became the first nation to place into law the notion that religious beliefs were a private matter for individuals who had the legal right to freedom of conscience, and that no government had the right or authority to dictate what religious opinions people shall or shall not hold.”1
“What schools need is a moment of science”. I laugh at the bumper sticker as I pull into my high school’s parking lot. The controversy of public school prayer has not struck my particular school, but it is still prominent in my mind. For decades, many schools have allowed for a moment of silent prayer in the beginning of the day – a time for reflection or meditation – and some have even led deliberately Christian-oriented prayer services over the PA systems. My school would open each class with a recitation of “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God”, and then offer prayers to anyone who had intentions. Then again, my school is a private, Catholic organization, and can pray however it wants to. Public schools are another question. Prayer was largely removed from public schools back in 1967 – but the influence still remained, it seems. Nowadays, lobbyists are convinced that freedom of religion also implies freedom from religion, should the individual choose it, and so they are working towards erasing the “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, which is spoken daily in most elementary schools. “What role should specific religions play in our educational atmosphere?” the answer is, largely, “none”.
Of all the controversy, the subject that fuels the most passion is the creationism vs. evolution debate that has been fiercely contested ever since the theory’s inception. The theory of evolution states that all life has slowly evolved from “lower” animals to become what it is today, adapting to new stimuli, and passing on superior and beneficial genes as inferior or negative genes die out. For example: the neck of a giraffe at first glance seems ungainly and impractical. However, upon observation, we see that giraffes in their natural habitat use their neck to reach the highest leaves on the trees, and their tough tongues to tear them off. Evolution proposes that at one time, there was an ancestral ungulate - hoofed mammal - that fed off of the leaves on a tree. For its survival, the tree adapted and began to grow leaves higher up on its trunk, to avoid over consumption from the mammal. Trees that failed to follow suit would die from over consumption, failing to pass on their traits, leaving only the trees that grew their leaves higher up. The ungulates in...

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