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I can’t believe that this made the Washington Post…

January 23, 2005, 10:55 PM

I’m amazed to see this in The Washington Post for Sunday, after a friend from the Washington DC area brought it to my attention. The article is entitled “Bible Breaks at Public Schools Face Challenges in Rural Virginia”.

The issue is about Staunton Public Schools and a Weekly Religious Education program, where students are pulled out of school for a period of time each week to go off the property to a local church or portable building to have what basically amounts to Sunday school during school hours. Citing higher academic standards, a group of parents have asked the school board to discontinue the program, after Harrisonburg (30 miles to the north) discontinued the program mid-year.

It’s interesting to see what various people have to say about the issue. Now take in mind that I live in a “red state”. My area is quite conservative. What’s amusing, though, is how so many of these so-called “Christians” are showing their true colors. This is the I-don’t-care-what-you-think-and-so-go-shove-it attitude. One letter-writer in the Staunton paper, who said that they were originally from Arlington and were speaking against the program, was told by another letter-writer that if they don’t like it, then they should go back to Arlington. I think it would be quite appropriate to offer this as a reaction: Jesus Christ

I personally think that the program does not belong in its current form, offered during the school day, and called “release time” by the teachers when my sister was involved in it at Stuarts Draft Elementary School. (I went to elementary school entirely in Rogers, Arkansas, where no such program was offered.)

That’s my issue there. During the school day. My belief is that the school day should be spent advancing the educational goals of the school system. If religion is going to be touched on, then it should be done objectively. Teach the students about religions. Do not teach the students a religion.

I also have no problem with an after-school program. When I went to Stuarts Draft High School, there was a Bible Club that met at various times before and after school. I was not a participant, but the club did exist. And you never heard a word out of them except for announcements about when their meetings would be, and also occasionally seeing them praying around the flagpole before school.

In response to a suggestion about changing the elementary school program to one that is held after school, the Washington Post reports that “after-school Bible classes would be impractical because they would conflict with the schedules of working parents.” While that may be a valid concern, it’s not insurmountable. It’s all a matter of priorities. I say that if it’s truly that important, you’ll find a way to get your child the religious instruction that you desire them to have. This being the Bible Belt, there is no shortage of houses of worship to choose from, and many offer services during the week.

Besides, when it comes to religious beliefs, I think it’s far better to have it come from something the parents are involved in as well, rather than just signing off on a permission slip. I’m glad that my parents were involved in my religious upbringing. It brought it all into perspective with other aspects of my life, since my mother reinforced much of the lessons taught in church at home.

I do wonder what the Staunton School board decides. There have been many impassioned arguments about the issue from both sides of the fence. We’ll have to see…

Web site: The article in question...

Song: End credits theme for Muppet Babies, interestingly enough.

Quote: "Does this article refer to where you live?" - My friend asking me about the article