Nobody’s making you read this svithe


I was struck by one of the Divine Miss A's recent posts and I want to riff a bit more on the comment I left her.

She said:
    . . . . it's hard to negotiate with "role." I am the teacher. A position of authority . . . . I constantly am asking myself, "Is this okay to say?" Take religion for instance. Before class students were having a discussion about a friend that was investigating this religion that most people refer to as Mormonism. I pretty much kept quiet, just because I know that religion in schools can be a sticky subject (particularly in this community) [note: Miss A, like me, is Mormon]. That is, I kept quiet until they called it a cult. And then I felt the need to at least tell them a couple of things. Not preaching. Just setting the record straight. I was scared to death, though, that I was going to get called on the carpet. I'm always trying to negotiate my role.
I said:
    In one of my credential classes I was told that admitting the existence of religion should pretty much get me fired.

    I decided that I'll have the same policy for religion that I have with sex: I give straight questions straight answers and I tell people to shut up when they need it.

Now to elaborate on this topic of religion and schools.

What I said in that class was that if a kid asked a question about religion versus science I would answer it with a discussion on epistemology and the different ways we have of obtaining and understanding knowledge. I believe that answer would allow me to be honest without promoting or denigrating either religion or science.

Ultimately, the point I was trying to make is that students deserve straight answers from their teachers and that we should respect them enough to give them to them.

Ultimately, the point made by my teacher is that I should pretend religion does not exist lest I get fired. Because not getting fired should be my highest aim in life.

I guess this is what Pope Pius X was worried about a hundred years ago--that the legal separation of church and state would result in a divorce between sense and sense in the name of sense. (The pope was reacting to changing French law--and within a year of his encyclical, it was a crime in France to wear a crucifix to school, so I guess he wasn't underconcerned.)

What I see now in America's schools is that divorce of sense from sense in the name of sense--a creation of a purposeful ignorance and it disturbs me. What good is an education if that education will be purposefully cut off from large sections of human knowledge? Why should the only religions legal to discuss be ones that died out >1500 years ago? The logic is bewildering. I understand and deeply agree with bans on proselytizing on school campuses, but to tell a teacher they cannot answer a simple question because to do so undermines Western Civilization? What is that all about?

It is impossible to understand the human family without at least addressing religion. Science and religion may in fact form a truly distinct dichotomy, but you cannot similarly divorce the understanding that comes from religion when you read Romeo and Juliet or The Scarlet Letter or My Last Duchess or The Inferno or even The Little Prince. You cannot divorce religion from history without rendering it nonsensical.

You cannot divorce religion from humanity. Even humans without religion define themselves by its absence.

What is this svithe about? Am I calling for instating religious indoctrination in America's high schools?

Are you kidding?

All I'm saying is that we can't terrify teachers if we want them to teach. We can't threaten them if we want our students to be with teachers from whom they can learn.

What I'm saying, if you read very closely, is that we should trust our children with knowledge. And we should trust the people we pay to deliver that knowledge.

What I'm saying, is that we should not be afraid.

Not parents, not teachers, not administrators, not legislators and least of all not students.

Nobody made you read this svithe.

Yet are you any less human for having read it?

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