Category Archives: Religious Education

Released Time for Religious Studies in Public Schools

My child has yet to reach this age, but upon talking with a neighbor, I learned that Berryhill Public Schools, the school that my child will attend this fall, participates in a released time program for religious studies. I do not yet know in what grade released time begins, but I know that my children will not participate, no matter how “Constitutional” released time is.

If you are not familiar with release time, check out the Wiki. According to Wiki: “Released Time is a concept used in the United States public school system wherein pupils enrolled in the public schools are permitted by law to receive religious instruction. The principle is based on the constitutional right of parents to direct the religious education of their children.”

Everything I know so far about Berryhill’s released time program tells me it falls under the Constitutional guidelines in the Wiki. However, the neighbor informed me that kids who do not attend are ostracized. They are seen as outcasts and are bullied, and, according to the neighbor, the administration looks the other way at bullying in general. Scary stuff. The neighbor also says the “religious education” is held at a Baptist church. Always. There is no teaching of Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, or anything other religion. The question for my readers – do you think it’s still Constitutional since only one religion is promoted? Based on the Wiki, it’s hard to say. I do believe it’s ethically wrong.

I also read some reviews of the school online, and one states that having their children in Berryhill is like having them “in a Christian school.” Great. Before we moved here, we asked everyone about the district. All said it was a great school. Now I know why. They do have good test scores, but their ethnic diversity is low, and obviously their religious makeup is mostly Christian.

My hopes for this school are not high. And if you’re wondering why I called the school by name, it is to serve as a way for researching parents in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas to be able to fund this information. I wish I’d known before we moved here.

The Bunk Stops Here

Geez, I hope that title hasn’t been used before. But it’s the truth, and I wanted to say it. The nonsense stops with me. My kids will not be raised to accept mythology as truth. Honestly, I’m exhausted by those around me (both virtually and IRL) who fill kids’ minds with nonsense.

“Say your prayers!” “Thank god for your good life!” “Get your heart right with god!” “God has a plan!” All lies. All harmful. It teaches kids that they don’t have to take responsibility for their choices, that god will work things out for them. It teaches kids that some people aren’t good enough to receive god’s blessings, like children whose parents are deadbeats or those who are starving in the streets. This nonsense teaches kids that death is more important than life. I can’t stand it. It stops with me.

It kills me to let them go on believing that the tooth fairy is real, that Santa is real. But the difference (and it’s a big one) is that Santa and the tooth fairy don’t send you to hell when you do something they say is wrong. They don’t bless some people while ignoring others. They don’t allow pain and suffering to go on in the world. That’s how I justify it anyway.

I like to think I’m helping to raise a new generation of freethinkers. I’m not afraid to raise my kids this way, and I won’t be afraid to stand up when I know their freedoms are being compromised. I’m sure you’ll hear more on this later because the public school in our district is said to basically be a Christian school.  Just wait. You won’t believe it. But, I digress. I know a lot of parents around my age who are raising their kids to be freethinkers. We’re saying the bunk stops here. The lies, the money-grubbing, fear-mongering,  denying of the real truth…it all ends with my childhood. I commit to never giving up or giving in, and to always fight for what is right and verifiably true. Let’s do it. Let’s raise a new generation of kids who value our planet, and scientific exploration, and discovery, and equal rights for all. Let’s raise a generation of kids who care about the greater good. I commit. Do you?

Public School Time!

My oldest daughter is now officially enrolled in pre-k in the public school system. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. She’s been in a Christian preschool since she was 8 months old, so I’ve had to be very careful about encouraging her  free thought. I was always afraid that she’d run to school and tell her teacher, “Mommy says some people don’t believe in god!” Heh. That would be a fun conference.

But now that she’ll be out of that environment, I feel much more comfortable helping her find answers to her tough questions. She asks about death often, so we observe dead bugs and talk about roadkill and what happens when people die. She’s fascinated with the fact that life can end, and I think it’s fostering a love for living inside her. She is full of life and seems to enjoy ever second. She loves people wholeheartedly and loves to be kind to those who are unkind to her. I feel more confident that we can discuss the different religions with more freedom now that she isn’t required to go to chapel or read Bible stories.

I know it seems odd that an atheist or agnostic person would put their children in a Christian school, but I have reasons. First, the hours worked well for our family. Secondly, she really got a fantastic education. They offered yoga, music, reading and handwriting skill building, and more art than I have room to store. Thirdly, as a person who will grow up in a conservative and largely Christian area, it’s important for her to have knowledge of the Bible, it’s stories, and Christianity in general. Otherwise, she might feel ostracized or embarrassed as an older child. All in all, it’s been good for both of my girls.

She’s growing up and I know life is about to get super-fun. Her intelligent and curious mind is growing every day, and I’m so proud of the little freethinker she is becoming. I’m jealous that she gets this opportunity in life. I feel like I missed out on so much in my childhood because of my restrictive upbringing. I’m very much looking forward to watching her bloom!

I Can’t Hold My Tongue

But I should. Or should I? I don’t know. Saying what’s on my mind in a public way seems only to lead to frustration, rapid heartbeat, and outbursts of anger all around. I feel very passionately about some things and my opinions are usually rooted in personal experience, beliefs and research. So when something comes up that makes me feel that warm rise of anger in my gut, I am compelled to share my thoughts. I found out this week that even in a “safe” place with people who supposedly believe similarly to me, it’s not exactly safe to share opinion. People will jump on any flaw in order to discredit a person, even if it’s not really a flaw.

It’s necessary to comment on blogs to join the conversation and build links back to my blog, but I’m not so sure I’m comfortable putting myself out there like that just yet. I mean, I’m barely comfortable sharing my new belief system with people I know or with someone face-to-face. Why should I give a stranger the opportunity to make fun of me for putting a word in italics?

I’ll tell you why – because even in the freethinking world there are assholes, and assholes aren’t worth stifling my voice. So, there you have it. Make fun of me, world, for feeling passionately about the need to educate my freethinking children about the religions they will be around as they grow up. Make fun of me for believing that the atheist/agnostic community should stop bashing religion and instead, act with the intelligence and open-mindedness we claim to have. I will continue to share my opinions, both online and off, and will refuse to let pettiness get the best of me. Arguing online is pointless. In the end, someone always ends up looking stupid. It’s not going to be me.