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In order to really make an informed judgment about the place of religion in schools, we need to explore different ways in which religion is or could be incorporated into the public school's daily activities or curriculum.

The terms "religious teaching and expression in public education" and "incorporating religion into the curriculum" could mean several things. First, these terms could indicate that religion is practiced as a matter of daily routine. Also, they might mean that religion is used as a form of curriculum in a classroom setting. The determination of whether or not religion has a place in public schools, regardless of what that place would be, has been a long-running debate among people of many different faiths, among parents, teachers, and administrators, and even in our State and National Legislatures. I am going to approach this subject from both meanings discussed above.

First, we will assume that by the term "incorporating religion," we mean religious activities are part of the daily public school routine. Ideas in classrooms (from evolution versus creation to literature choices or writing topics in English class) are approached from a religious standpoint, we say the Pledge of Allegiance and actually use the "one nation under God" phrase, and prayers are said before football games and graduations, among other things. I believe this would fall under the category "religious teaching and expression." While I personally do not see the harm in these activities, I know that there are many religions that have different ways of expressing their beliefs. There are also religions that claim to be non-religions and deny any belief in God. It is my understanding that schools want to please everyone, but in doing so, they end up with the problem of pleasing no one. It would be hard to incorporate every religion into the daily activities of public schools. There just are not enough hours in the day! This would be one of the disadvantages of trying to incorporate religion into the school system. There are just too many views and ideas to consider when trying to integrate religion and the basic activities of the public school day. I am not saying it cannot be done, because in some cases, it might be possible. An example would be communities that have the same major religion, like a Mormon community, where children attend school exclusively with other Mormon children. The school is a public school, but in that case, practicing a religion would be completely feasible. My high school, for example, was not too religiously diverse in that most of the students were either members of a Protestant Christian or Catholic religion and the students and parent of other religions/denominations just did not care either way. We had prayer at football games and no one complained. I guess you would have to take it on a case-by-case basis and ideally, leave it up to the individual schools to decide how they want to proceed. In most cases, however, it would not be feasible because of the religious and cultural diversity of the community involved. That is not to say that there are no options for those schools because there are things that they could do.


The option that I see as most feasible would be to offer a class to study religion. This would be a set class period, either as an elective or (maybe) part of a history course, wherein students would learn about different religions. This way, we could all learn about the aspects of other religions in order to better understand each other. I know that when I was younger, I wanted to learn about other religions, but was always afraid to ask for fear of insulting someone, and the very short unit on religion in my World History class just was not sufficient to answer all of the questions I had. I feel sure that I was not the only student like this, either. A class like this would allow students to ask questions and learn the things they need to know. I'm not sure I can come up with any harmful effects of this idea, although I am sure there would be opposition. If it were offered as an elective, however, and students could choose to take the class or not, then there should not be any trouble.