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Sunday, December 15, 2013

School "Holidays"?

I'm sure that most of you have heard the phrase "Separation of Church and State."  Unfortunately, it is one of the most mistakenly used phrases when attempting to connect it to the United States Constitution.  Trust me, if you were to ask a 100 people what part of the US Constitution would you find "separation of church and state," nearly 90% would claim that it is in the 1st Amendment.  The truth is, it is NO WHERE in the Constitution, for the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the United States Constitution.  The reason that 90% of Americans believe that is is located in the 1st Amendment (or somewhere else within the body of the Constitution) is do to, in large, a major campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to have "God" removed from all public institutions (both federal and state).  As a matter of fact, it is one of their most repeated phrases since their foundation.  This isn't to say that the ACLU is a bad organization.  As a matter of fact, they have done a lot of good helping citizens protect their rights and have been involved in a number of important landmark Supreme Court cases, yet they are known to be more to the "left" than "center" when it comes to a number of  issues and often are in the center of some extremely controversial topics.

Recently, the ACLU has launched a campaign to have any and ALL recognition of ANY type of religion displayed in public schools.  In part, their argument is that if you element all references to all religions in public school, it would prevent anyone from being offended.  In other words, public schools could not display ANY form of religious icons within their schools.  Furthermore, they would not be permitted to close their schools down for religious references if those closings "...occur in collation to a known religious holiday."  Translation: Public schools could not close around Christmas or Easter (as we currently do) because those days off correspond to a known religious holiday.  In addition, public schools would not be permitted to display any symbols that relate to a given religious holiday...regardless of how they attempt to reword it to make it appear as if they were being unbiased (i.e., no "Holiday Trees" - another name for a "Christmas" tree, no Santa Clauses - St. Nick..., nor any Menorah, Kwanzaa, etc.)  Not to mention that public schools would also be prevented from singing any type of religious songs during "Holiday Concerts" or at any other time during the year.  In all likelihood they probably would object strongly to Dr. Bob's playing of holiday music.  The supporters of the ACLU's proposal do agree that students should be permitted to be absent due to their religious beliefs to celebrate their given holiday and that the absence should not be counted against them, but the school, as a whole, should not be closed or recognize any religion.

Those that are fighting the ACLU argue that the Supreme Court has upheld on a number of occasions that school districts are allowed to recognize whichever religion which is dominate in the majority of their given demographics.  So, if the majority of your community is Jewish, the school's are allowed to close for Jewish holidays (i.e., Paramus school district) or if the majority of your population is Christian, then they can close for Christian holidays.  Furthermore, those that oppose this current move by the ACLU state that they are incorrectly inserting something into the Constitution that isn't there ("separation of church and state) and that if the majority of the parents of a given school district do not have a problem with the school's recognition of any given religious holiday, then there isn't a problem.

THIS WEEK'S BLOG TOPIC: Should public schools stop recognizing any and all religions?  Would doing so finally create a "religious free" environment and improve the overall learning atmosphere of public schools?  Or is this just simply "political correctness" going too far?  Furthermore, is this even a "real issue" that needs to be addressed?

51 comments:

  1. A kind of weirdness has already appeared when today, during English class, our teacher put “G-d” instead of “God” on the board for a reason to justify offensive term. But it’s only the beginning, as the new blog informs me of the whole event going on there in the backstage---the entire campaign by ACLU to implement “separation of church and state” is merely a preposterous and fallacious scheme fabricated out of nothing. The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, which only asserts that state should not interfere with the church, rather than a total “separation”. Even more absurdly, ACLU happens to take advantage of its choplogic interpretation of the clause into supporting the plot, while its fundamental operation is against the First Amendment. Overall, ACLU would achieve its goal of rationalizing the campaign by brainwashing people, who, gradually come to believe that “separation of church and state” is actually located in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

    Now, despite of the fact that ACLU’s scheme is essentially contradicting the Constitution and itself, would it ultimately create "religious free" environment? And would “religious free” actually benefit public schools? Religion has been tightly intertwined with our society and individual life for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s originally an approach to deal with things people can’t methodically offer a solution to it, and also a spiritual belief to sustain themselves when confronting with extremely harsh conditions. Religion has long been integrated into us, and attempting to draw a division line between it and school, or any other institutions, would be nothing but formalism. I’d like to use a reference from the theory of utilitarianism, which states that a law would be only useful if it leads to greatest happiness in largest amount of people. Would everyone be happy if all of a sudden, Christmas break in public schools is forever canceled and no more holiday concerts at the last day of the school where everyone can cheer and celebrate? Would everyone be happy if no more Christmas tree is allowed, neither is Santa Claus or holly…Kids who are grown up to be told of stories about Santa would abruptly come to realize some day, that Santa is something “aggressive” to other religions and is forbidden to be displayed. While it’s only an apparent example from Christian religion, there are hundreds of religions across the globe that are also existing in this melting pot nation, in which their activities would also be negatively affected by ACLU’s allegedly legitimate heresy.

    If there is an individual problem within some school where people from a minority religion feels offended by the dominating religion, then the problem should be handled according to the scenario, locally and individually. However, ACLU’s scheme now only creates more problems by a biased generalization. After all, this is not even an issue that needs to be put on the debating table. ACLU, such an authoritative media, shouldn’t even launch the campaign from the outset.

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    1. While I was reading your post, I liked how you brought up that the ACLU could inadvertently turn Santa into something "aggressive." This, in my opinion, could cause Christian children to feel guilty just because of their religion. This would essentially recreate the ACLU's original problem, except in a different form. However, I was somewhat confused with your calling the ACLU's goals "formalist." If formalism is the preservation of traditional practices (to some extent) wouldn't formalism be supporting religion in schools, considering it has been the norm for quite some time?

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    2. Brandon, I apologize if I didn't elaborate my interpretations clearly. I'm trying to say that ACLU's attempt is only creating a superficial appearance that seems like religion has been removed from public schools or any other occasions, however, in the reality, some morals or faiths or ideals deep inside our mindset would never change. Therefore the "formalism" I used here isn't specifically regarding to the religious aspect as you defined, which is absolutely proper. Hope that I cleared this up a bit.

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    3. I efinately agree with you point that there is no possible way of getting rid of religion completely. The ACLU can not get into the miss of humans and restrict them from doing things such as this. Also, i certainly agree that the ACLU's "debate" isn't serious enough to be out on the debate table. It is absurd and impossible to remove religion from humans.

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  2. I think we are forgetting something. Our country was BORN upon religion. Religious doctrines were needed in order to have some type of power to represent the nation. Yes, soon church and state were separated because of the extremes beliefs of the church, which didn’t satisfy the majority. Nevertheless, relating the concept of the intertwining of church and state is completely meaningless. The ACLU has three goals they want to accomplish in order to “have any and ALL reorganization of ANY type if religion displayed in public schools.”
    1- Removing religion from Public Schools would prevent anyone from being offended
    -We cannot COMPLETELY remove religion from public schools due to how strong the students have been taught to believe due to their parents. In many religions everything is based upon their religious teachings, therefore, removing religion would be exceedingly difficult.
    2- Restricting Public Schools from closing down on religious holidays
    - This restriction goes further into the life of not just a student, but the family as well.
    3-Public Schools would not be permitted to display any symbols that relate to a given religious holiday.
    - Relating this point to Islam once again interferes too much with the student’s personal life. For example, Islam also recommends a hijab, restricting this display is colliding to much in what they believe.

    Furthermore, if we do restrict “reorganization of any type of religion displayed in public schools” will NOT stop religion to be shown in the real world. What will happen when we go to college? Or when we are on our own? No one is going to be there to foster us and protest us from being offended. We need to learn how to face others and realize who we are and what makes us different. Public schools should not be involved in totally removing any type of religious beliefs. Parents, not school officials, are responsible for overseeing a young person's religious upbringing. The ACLU has taken the concept of “separation of church and state” to far and has misinterpreted it.

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    1. Exactly, not only because I'm on the same side as you, Iqra. Eliminating religion completely from its root would not change anything, in the exception of popular indignation. It's like covering up your ears when it's thundering real loud outside and pretending not to hear it. Religion has always been there in our life and soul, and many conflicts around religion has always been there as well. It's the decision of the followers to make their way through and handle these obstacles. ACLU is truly attempting to create some sort of a revolutionary movement out of this, in the negative aspect...just like prohibiting the consumption of bread and water to some degree. It's not only misinterpreting the concept, but deteriorate the concept into a whole different degree of fallacy.

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    2. I like how you brought up that trying to get rid of religion in schools would end up conflicting with Islamic traditions, and how not getting off for holidays could conflict with students and their families to some degree. However, where you brought up that the unhappiness of the American populous in the 1700's was what created the separation between church and state, I have one question to ask - what separation? As Mr. Gehm brought up, there is no separation between church and state anywhere in the Constitution, so technically that point is false. However, there are so many people who believe that it is in the Constitution that it can practically function as a sort of "pseudo-amendment," one that doesn't exist but is so commonly brought up, it is somewhat tangible.

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    3. Iqra i definately agree with you, the ACLU is definitely taking it too far, i thought that when you stated all the main points by the ACLU and then showed the falsity in them afterwards was well done and helped to prove your point

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    4. Iqra,
      As much as I was swayed by your post, I would have to disagree. I agree that we will encounter religion later in our lives like you stated but don't you think what the school systems are doing is essentially brainwashing? Schools evidently favor religions which isn't fair to certain people. You could transparently see this in our school where Dr.Bob talked about Christmas for weeks but made no mention of Chanukah at all. We have to respect other beliefs and this isn't a simple question of encountering religious symbols.

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    5. You point out Iqra that relating the concept of the intertwining of church and state is completely meaningless, however you don't understand that fact that they already are intertwined. WIth all the holidays, literature aspects, and other things that revolve around religion, they are also incorporated in our school system, and even our daily lives. You may say that Christmas and certain holidays may overpower others, however it is not that we disregard certain holidays, it's just that it is not recognized as much as others. There will always be places of worship for EVERY religion, no matter what you believe, which at the end of the day is what we were trying to accomplish.

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    6. "We cannot COMPLETELY remove religion from public schools" Its true. There are religions that require you to wear a Yamaka or a Hijab whenever you go out. Thus, religion cannot be removed as you would strip their rights to practice their religion.

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  3. Without a doubt, religion is an EXTREMELY sensitive issue, and has been since the days of the Romans and beyond. Since Christianity is one of the dominant religions in America (specifically Protestantism, due to the multiple Anglican/Puritan founders of the country) many people put up Christmas trees to be festive. Problem is, some people don't like it. This goes to the extent where the ACLU is trying to get rid of even the slightest mention of the g-word in school, or anything even remotely related to it - even Christmas trees, menorahs, signs, and even vacations! In my opinion, this issue isn't really much of an issue for schools. It may seem obvious that, as a Catholic, I wouldn't mind Christmas trees in our school. However, this plays into the very democratic principles that our country is based on. As a free country, everyone is allowed to worship whatever god(s) they choose. While the separation of church and state isn't actually in the Constitution, it is agreeable that we aren't like England, where the king has to be a member of the Anglican church to even be crowned (then again, the king has practically NO power, except to put titles in peoples' names.) While this country is a republic, we are still a democratic country! As such, we follow the "majority rules" doctrine - the vote of the many outweigh the vote of the few. As such, in my opinion, schools should be able to decorate based on the people who go to the school. Paramus, for instance, has a large number of Jewish students, so students are let off for Jewish holidays. Also, what is the true harm of decorations! THEY'RE JUST DECORATIONS! Yes, they symbolize a religion, but does putting up a picture of Santa automatically mean you discriminate against Jewish students or atheists? You believe in that religion, so decorate as you please. In fact, when Jewish teachers go to mostly Christian schools, they don't have to put up decorations if the don't want to! Sometimes, a Christmas tree is just a Christmas tree! Once again, we're not asking you to ONLY put up Christmas decorations - if you're Jewish, you can put up Hanukkah menorahs, and if you're Hindu, you can light candles for Diwali.
    This creates another issue. When you analyze the ACLU's argument, you can compare it to Great Britain and the American colonies - they are trying to eliminate the tyranny of religion in schools. This brings up two arguments - one, which was brought up in multiple other blog posts, is that eliminating something completely is next to impossible - there is always someone who will wear a necklace with a religious pendant, or prays before a test, or has anything with a cross or Star of David or religious text on it. This ties into my next point - if you try this course of action, what is stopping the ACLU from coming the tyrant - what is stopping them from tearing cross necklaces off of people's necks, or punishing them for praying in public, or even bringing up any god or gods at all? My point is, if you try to replace one kind of tyranny, it wouldn't be too hard for another tyranny to take its place. Let's not forget that the phrase "separation of church and state" doesn't even exist in the U.S. Constitution, so, in reality, the ACLU can be compared to a cartoon that begins walking in mid air, but falls to the ground when he/she realizes he's not walking on anything.
    In my opinion, as long as the school people go to is open to all religions, and at least acknowledge other religions in some way, then decorations are harmless. Even though I'm Catholic, I can pass the menorahs that Dr. Bob has in the library and office and feel absolutely no anger or sorrow at all. Even if you try to pass regulations about religious symbols, chances are people are going to have some sort of leniency towards them. Remember, if you have a problem with religious holidays, there's always Festivus!

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    1. Also, there is one last point I forgot to mention. Without religion in schools, there wouldn't be so many schools to put up so many "evil" decorations. Think of all the colleges that were originally clergy centers, including but not limited to Harvard, William and Mary, Princeton, and Dartmouth!

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    2. Brandon, ACLU is certainly trying to replace the democratic regulation of religion in schools with a nearly tyrannical one, as you implied in your post. In order to substitute something, it must have a equally strong subject matter---and to substitute religious element, the Union comes up with this atheism-like mode. Your analogy of comparing ACLU to that cartoon is virtually precise for their circumstance now, as long as voices of opposition arise from the crowd, it would simply collapse like a piece of falling glassware---seemingly rational and justifiable, yet indeed unconstitutional and fragile.

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    3. Brandon, religious is definitely a sensitive issue to debate on due to the fact of it being imbedded in human minds since the start. As you mentioned, putting up a Christmas tree does not mean you are DISCRIMINATING another religion, but it is a way of expressing your own religion. If religion is removed from schools it can not be removed from our minds since that is how we were brought up.

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    4. Uhhhhh I'm not sure but did you just say that religion is tyrannical? You said that if you replace one kind of tyranny it wouldnt be too difficult for another one to take its place..? Hahaha and what is it with you and Festivus?

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    5. The problem with your reasoning Brandon, is that in giving holidays based of off the majority religion in a certain area, you are basically restraining the minority from having the same privileges, effectively ignoring all other religions just like the current situation. A far more democratic solution would be allowing people to take "religious days" off, which would count as an excused absence.

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    6. I believe that you're right when you said that people are free to decorate as they please, and that their decorations don't have to mean anything to you. It's really not a hard concept to get yet people brew up storms because they are so quickly offended, sometimes to the point where I wonder if they believe that the world revolves around them. Do people honestly believe that each Christmas tree they see was set up solely so their religion would be mocked? Did it ever cross their minds that many people put these things up because, oh I don't know, they like to express some pride in their own belief?

      And Rob, you misread Brandon's post. He never said that religion was tyrannical. Rather, he said that what the ACLU was doing can be considered as stepping stones to legitimate tyranny (ripping off peoples' religious necklaces, punishing those who mention God, etc).

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  4. The ACLU claims to be advocates of freedom of religion, yet by strictly forbidding "any and all recognition of any religion," they further tear apart the religious rifts existing in all classes of US society. Children, as we all know, are easily influenced by the world around them, especially by their family and parents. Often taught their own set of religious beliefs and morals, schools that recognize religion become a valuable teaching ground and eye-opener for children, since they become exposed to the beliefs of their schoolmates and teachers. They become well-rounded as such schools give them a higher chance of learning to tolerate and respect other peoples' beliefs. There's also no correlations that relate schools being completely religious-free to learning atmosphere. Just because a school is a religion-free zone doesn't mean that its students learn better and faster than those in other schools. The educational system is already set up so that any religious topic must be seen from an objective, academic viewpoint, and students will still act as they and hundreds before them normally have: study, procrastinate, cram, etc.

    As nice as the ACLU's intentions of trying not to offend anybody are, their campaign to 'remove God' from all schools is making an issue about nothing. Their general policy actually holds the potential to irk people, especially in schools serving large or active religious communities, where closing down on major holidays can be considered a part of worship to their god(s). Plus, even in schools without these large communities, there will always be people who believe in something and they will be proud to show their belief to the rest of the world. Making schools completely religion-free then holds the potential to oppress these people since, although technically allowed, religious icons/tributes are usually discouraged, for fear that it could be interpreted as a sign of "state-sponsored" religion. For example, Santa Fe High School of Texas once allowed students to voluntarily elect a person that would say either a solemn speech or a nonsectarian prayer before a football game. The decision was shut down by the Court (interpreted as the school promoting religion since the students used a school-owned speaker).

    Plus, the way they're trying to accomplish their pointless, irrational goal is simply nitpicking. Singing a song doesn't necessarily mean one believes or abides by its lyrics. Case in point, the high school choir often sings a Jewish song called "Bidibom" as part of the annual winter concert and I am fairly sure that not every person in the choir was Jewish. Yet we all sing it anyway without feeling paranoid and without worriedly looking around to see if I offended someone. Many (myself, a Protestant, included) even enjoy singing its catchy tune. Decorations don't necessarily endorse or enforce religion either. People put up various decorations, from Christmas trees to menorahs to kinaras (Kwanzaa candle holder), during the holiday to celebrate, to feel good, to help enjoy our end-of-the-year break.

    Really, has anything horrible ever happened because a student, willingly elected by the student body, decided to say a short prayer before a game? The Santa Fe debacle started when some people started thinking that the prayer was focused on god(s) not their own (despite it being clearly nonsectarian), and thus became offended. They get so caught up in the role as a 'victim' of the 'religion of the majority' that they forget that they, too, must respect the other party. They also forget an even more important detail: one does not have to believe everything they hear, just as much as showing decorations or initiating closings don't force the student to convert to the focused religion.

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    1. I definitely agree with your point that "As nice as the ACLU's intentions of trying not to offend anybody are, their campaign to 'remove God' from all schools is making an issue about nothing." The ACLU seems to be coming up with scenarios that don't even exist. Next, they are trying to come up with a solution to what is not even a problem! This debate just doesn't seem radical.

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    3. I like how you brought up how just because a school is completely "god-free," that doesn't mean that the students that go there will learn better or learn more - there are many schools tied into religions, such as "Bergen Catholic," and I don't automatically assume everyone there is learning at a slower pace than I am. However, while I was reading your post, I can somewhat see why Santa Fe was suspicious about the nonsectarian prayer: it would be hard to ask a deity to pray for people who don't believe in him, especially since at least one person in the audience was polytheistic among those who worship a single god, or vice versa. Therefore, you'd have to pick one or the other, which would make the prayer hard to be completely unbiased towards Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and the like.

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    4. Finally get your post out Hannah:) Anyways, the one who's really being paranoid is not us, but ACLU. The fundamental law of religion, or anything, is relief and happiness. And no matter what religious group someone comes from, the language of happiness is all the same. The same holiday atmosphere is around, whether we're singing "Grown-Up Christmas List" or "Bidibom". But sarcastic enough, the Union of Civil Liberty is actually aiming at annihilating our liberty, whether intentionally or not, and it is instigating waves of suspicion and division among religious groups.

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  6. As all of us were anticipating winter break for the thrill and merriments of the holidays, I came to realize that some “non-Christian” people were celebrating or at least, to an extent, taking part in the Christmas festivities like exchanging presents. If religion was completely removed from schools, students wouldn't be open-minded as they are in now. They would become indoctrinated. Keeping religious practices strictly to be taught at home, inhibits a child from forming their own opinion on what’s right and wrong or using the additional information to make a decision on other religions not just their own. Making public schools “religious free” is simply taking “political correctness” too far. You can’t even call it “political correctness” because politics is already intertwined with religion as well. Our country was founded on religion! And since it does not mention a separation between church and state in the constitution, the document we LIVE by, this is unlawful!
    Removing religion will not “improve the overall learning” of these children. Rather it keeps them from receiving a true education. How would history teachers teach? Most of history resulted because of religious conflict. Are they not allowed to teach it now because it’s not “politically correct?” The English department, as well, teaches basic principles of beliefs from centuries ago to help us understand the reading. Are they not allowed to teach these things as well? Religion and education is so closely intertwined that it cannot simply be removed.
    Public schools should be allowed to recognize ALL religions. America is so diverse and ethically mixed that there are a multitude of religions across the country. I see no problem with religion existing in schools. Therefore, the ACLU has gone too far over nothing. This isn’t even a real issue that has to be addressed.

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    1. I completely agree with you Hannah, the ACLU has taken things well too far by wanting to remove religion from school. Religon is intertwined in education and removing it could severely completely removing any mention of religion would have a disastrous affect.

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    2. Nirali the stance you take and the way you concluded your thoughts did not match up at all. Your entire argument stated how important the integration of school and all religions is to the betterment of society, and then stated in your concluding statement that it is not an important issue. This contradiction makes your entire argument muddy and unclear on which stance you take, as well as ruins the good points you had on this issue by doing so.

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    3. Nirali,
      Firstly, a point if clarification is necessary to be pointed out. Although the constitution does not explicitly state "separation of church and state" verbatim, it does imply to a great degree that it does exist through phrases like "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." This is important because you make it seem like separation of church and state is completely omitted even though it was paraphrased well in statement like the one above. You also stated the amount of diversity in the US, so wouldn't you agree that abolishing religion from schools would result in increasing acceptance of this diversity, therefore improving overall education?

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  7. The matter of religion being allowed in school is a major issue that must be resolved now, or it will be a constant problem and a hassle to deal with in the future. It is imperative for all major religions, regardless of creed, nature, and western stereotype, to be not only taught, but drilled into the next generation's heads. As of current times, most wars in the world are not fought for land or power, but ideologies, and religion plays a major part in this. However, the religion in question is almost always distorted and contorted to almost a different ideology altogether by a rival ideology or society. A perfect example of this is the "jihad" war going on in the Middle East. One familiar with the nature of Islam would know that "jihad" is not a physical war, but a resolution of conflicts between one's own self. With the emergence of radical Islamic groups who were using the term to justify the attacks on the western world, the term "jihad" transformed from one of peace to one of war. In the same process, the very nature of Islam was distorted into an ideology of hate by mis-informed western people, which caused damage to all Islamic people living in America. Informing people about the pith of major religions would lead to acceptance, and travesties such as this would not occur.
    The nature of school holidays is also something that needs to be amended. This is amplified due to the fact that most holidays center around only a specific religion, with holidays such as Christmas and Easter conveniently being school holidays as well. It is simply inexcusable to mark a person absent for religious purposes that do not have to do with Christianity because a student in this modern day of free speech and religion should not have to choose between a sacred day or school. Important holidays for all religions, such as Yom Kippur, Diwali, Eid, etc. should be school holidays as well to avoid such a conflict. Taking small measures such as creating awareness of the true pith of religion, and providing religious holidays to not just Christians but all Americans regardless of creed and religion, are the first steps to a more integrated, understanding, and cooperative society.

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    1. I read about this when I was researching for the blog topic! Many schools are starting to acknowledge that some people have religious holidays that don't fall in the 'traditional' winter break, and so accommodate to the individual's needs, yet the school still closes down for the 'major' holidays. It is a pretty good solution, in my opinion, for a society as diverse as that of America's. A problem I see, though, is if people start doing this in great numbers and individuals' weeks offs start to overlap, it'd be harder to schedule employees or (for teachers) to keep track of individual grades/work done. Still, It's a much better solution than the ridiculous complete ban on all recognition of religion that the ACLU is trying to accomplish.

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    2. not trying to create any "love fest" as Mr. Gehm puts it, but i totally agree you. wars these days are based off of religion more than government so we need to get the religious difference out of the heads of the children now, so that when they do become bais in what they believe in that they believe in equality, not the well being of people just like them (that is religiously)

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  8. The ACLU has taking this way too far as they push for religion too be removed from schools. As clearly demonstrated by these posts the vast majority of people do not even wish this to be so. In Ireland a few years back there were a group of muslim people who tried to get the Angelus taking off the television. For those of you who dont know Ireland is a predominantly Catholic and the Angelus is a Catholic tradition in which there is a bell chiming over and over for a minute. As the bell chimes you go quiet and listen, you don't speak, it gives you time to reflect on yourself and thank God. Lately in Ireland religion has been waning but when this group of muslims tried to over ride our religous tradition the country went mental, and there was a mass hatred towards any muslim to be seen. It wasn't exactly our fault, most of us had never even see a muslim in ireland, like me. If you go to Ireland it is very likely that you will only see our race of people, that's it, it's not like America where everyone is diverse and from all different backgrounds. So we were completely ignorant of them, the way most saw it was a group of people not even from our country, not even Irish trying to rid us of our traditions and warp our country into theirs, and for that they were hated. That is what is going on here, the ACLU is trying to rid schools of religion, but in doing such they are also ridding us of our traditions, these days teachers, apparently, aren't supposed to say "Merry Christmas" or even the word God. Not even allowed to say God. This is absolutely ridiculous, and it is because they believe it might offend people from other religions. This in my view is absolutely ridiculous. First of all, I don't believe there are very many people, at least in our school, that actually get offended by direct references to a religion that is not there own. I"m Catholic and if I see a Menorah poster in a room I honestly care not, its not offensive, its another persons religion and is to be respected. But when a person from another religious background comes to a land which is predominantly Christian why must we change our customs in order to comfort them? That's not our job we're just going on as usual and as we always have done, ehat gives them the right to make changes to that? If they knew they were coming to a place not dominated by their own religion and are offended when people talk about other religions then they should just have to put up with it. There is nothing wrong with religion in school, saying a simple
    "Merry Christmas" should not be frowned upon, religion is okay as long as the dominant one still respects the others and in turn the others respect them and their traditionsl.

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    1. Rob,
      This was a really insightful post because of the comparison to Ireland. It really gave some substance and foundation to your other comments on the topic. About your comment about the menorah, technically I would personally agree with you but it is somewhat flawed in a broader sense. Even though I won't get offended just like you, some people would still be offended by seeing it. It is for the better of society rather than the individual, in which everyone should be accounted for and have the right to practice religion freely.

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    2. I definitely agree with you Rob when you say that religion shouldn't be strictly banned when you say a certain word like "God" and you'll have a punishment or get arrested. Religion is way too intertwined in our society to get rid of for good, which is impossible, well at least in this lifetime. If you want to resolve this "religion" problem as people recall, you should add more breaks, not decrease! At least I would be okay with that!!

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    3. The last part of your last sentence pretty much sums up my thoughts for this blog. Yes, it does seem that some schools 'favor' specific religions over others; however, there will almost always be a majority in situations such as these, and Christianity became the majority simply because it's been around so long, from practically the beginning of the 13 colonies' existence. Why must people be so willing to brew a storm over things such as these, when all that's needed to be done is respect the beliefs of others? ACLU's flawed solution is a somewhat vain attempt to satisfy every single person in the US (which, as we all know, will never happen).
      Plus, even non-religious people enjoy the breaks not necessarily because of their advocacy of 'Christian doctrine,' but for the parties and traditions each bring (Santa, gift-giving; Easter bunnies, egg hunts; etc).

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  9. Although church and state are claimed to be separated, they are actually somewhat intertwined even in the public school system. Days off from school are mostly given for Christian religious events. Why are other religions being neglected? To be fair to all races and religions, it would only make sense to stop recognizing religious holidays in school since church and state should theoretically be separated as stated in the constitution itself. The sole purpose of school should be to educate the public, but the school has the ability to favor religions by giving holidays on specific religious days. For example, in school, Dr.Bob has been talking about Christmas for almost a month now along with playing Christmas songs. However, he made no mention of Chanukah. This bias in the school system should not exist as it flaws the very purpose of school. Since the issue of religion is so interpretive, it makes sense to focus on education rather than religious favoritism. This is also essentially brainwashing children into thinking different religious views as well. If one religion is evidently favored in schools from an early age, kids would pick up on this at an early age and it would alter their own beliefs for life. School should instead be a breeding ground for many individual views rather than one common belief that is being encouraged greatly. Diversity in a community or school is vital for the overall atmosphere of the school, so the schools have no right to infringe upon the constitutional right of separation of church and state. Even if the majority of people are Christian for example, that's no excuse for infringement of this vital right. This issue is an actual issue that needs to be addressed because it is currently allowing schools to manipulate the religious freedoms the constitution guarantees. It's basically making it harder and less likely for minority religions to be preached by only letting school holidays occur on the majority religions special days. As a nation with basic freedoms we should see these wrongdoings in the public education system and divert focus back to the real reasons that school is teaching in the first place. The only exception would be in all religion schools like Jewish Day Schools for example. If people attend a religious school than religion in school is completely justified, but due to diversity, all religions must be accounted for and it would only be fair to not practice religion to not offend anyone in public schools.

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    1. Vinit, you make very good points in this post. You have opened my eyes to how "Christian" our intrinsic, everyday life appears to be. However, there is an underlying reason for this seemingly pure Christian behaviour. The idea of Christmas has been around far longer than any other holiday's idea, and the people in America thusly had more people familiar with Christmas and its ideologies. This Christmas ideology has reached its apex during the 1960-1970s, which is the time when Dr. Bob was growing up, so instead of having memories of Hanukah, he affiliated December with Christmas. This, coupled with the fact that we have Christmas holidays and not Hanukah holidays, are the underlying reasons why people have that type of "Christmas-y" mentality.

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    2. You make good points, however Christmas has been around for centuries without any problem. You think too much about the mentality of the religion aspect and not what some people may look at as being joyous and fun to have a good time right before the break. Also, even though you make a point about Dr. Bob only constantly bragging about Christmas, also note that every time he played a song in the morning he also added Hanukkah songs to promote Hanukkah as well. Another thing, Hanukkah was closer to Thanksgiving which is when he mentioned it a lot more last month rather than this month, which is acceptable.

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    3. I agree with many of your points Vinit, however, instead of completely ridding of religion in schools, why don't school systems begin acknowledging other religious holidays as well? Holidays bring happiness and cheerfulness to schools. As we grow older and our school work gradually grows tougher, we need some sort of stress reliever. I feel that being together as a school, celebrating the holiday season, helps us rid of stress. Getting rid of religious holidays in school would cause much harm.

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    4. " but due to diversity, all religions must be accounted for and it would only be fair to not practice religion to not offend anyone in public schools." This is the exact reason why it should not be eliminated. And as you used the word diversity, isnt the United States nothing more but a giant melting pot?

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    5. you make some good points, but your quote "Days off from school are mostly given for Christian religious events" is not true. we in the public school system take Jewish days off and for holidays that we don't get off are an "excused absent" and are permitted. secondly, diversity is vital, with personality, religion makes people seem different, which in turn promotes bullying. no one knows why people single out "the odd one", but it happens and will continue to happen.

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  10. Religion can be very important in many cultures, especially with the holidays that may be celebrated in a certain amount of time, such as Christmas. It is based on a religious concept, however it is now a combination of a fun and enjoyable holiday as well as the background of the Christian society. This is just one example of a holiday break, that schools use to give students time off. It has been a tradition for years, so why is it that important to change it now? The religion based holidays aren't really a huge problem, especially since it's been around for so long and the children enjoy certain holidays like Christmas for the gifts and fun activities anyway.
    I think it is also a great idea to allow students in certain areas to take off if the majority of their population maybe be that religion. In New Jersey, there are certain areas where there are many Jewish people, which could allow a certain town to take off for Hanukkah and so on. It gives the people in certain areas more unified and safer to be free in this country. Freedom of religion is in the first amendment, including the holidays that come in addition to practicing that religion. There is nowhere in the constitution saying that the state has the mandatory act of practicing religion in all schools, but in some cases in may be needed especially in literature. Bible readings from the Christian religion are used in literature often, and it is included in the curriculum. If it's already in the curriculum, how could religion be a problem if this has been going on for years and is now suddenly a problem? I guess it is all based on personal opinion, however we have bigger things to worry about in this economy.

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    1. I absolutely agree with the point you made about how these traditions have been around for so long. Why should these annual things suddenly be taken away if they have been around for longer than we've been around? People look forward to the holiday season because it means spending time with loved ones and laughing. Christmas trees, Santa, presents, Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, the Menorah, etc. symbolize much more than only religion- they symbolize happiness for many people around the world and they have for many years.

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    2. Juliet, I agree with your argument. As you had mentioned in the end that "we have bigger things to worry about in this economy", that is totally true! Would it not make you think that these people are either evading focusing their attention on things we actually do need help on, or are they just bored to even propose this as an idea?....

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    3. i agree with you, we do have bigger things to worry about, but don't expressing our religions create and promote bullying in school? especially after 9/11, if people see someone on the street as muslim or looks muslim, don't they get treated differently?

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  11. How would the students in our school feel if the Christmas break that we just began today was suddenly cancelled? The annual school assemblies right before winter break is a way each and every person in our school is able to bond with others in the school while having a fabulous time. What if this fun time was suddenly taken away from us? How would we feel? Well, this is exactly what the ACLU wants to do. They want to take away all of the things in our school that allow us to grow a tighter bond and clear our minds, even just for a little bit. Separating religion from all schools would just result in lack of unity and enthusiasm in our school. The holiday season at the school is a time of happiness and it is a tradition. Many people look forward to being able to bond as a school while singing traditional holiday songs and laughing with one another. Taking that away would just cause harm to the school as a whole. Parents would revolt and the entire law would backfire. People would feel as if they were violated and when people feel they are being violated, they fight.
    I will be completely honest- I am not a very religious person... At all. I, however, know for a fact that if I was being forced to follow a religion in school each day, I wouldn't be too happy. Same thing applies to this situation. Instead of being forced to follow a religion, people are being banned from following one. Religion may be a way people cope with stress or a way that people comfort themselves. Taking that comfort away from people is unjust. As long as that person is not causing harm to the school, they shouldn't have their freedom of religion revoked. People should be able to express themselves freely without any limitations.
    Christmas trees, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and many other symbols of religious holidays have been around for a very long time. We have grown up around these things. Now, if suddenly these holiday icons disappeared, nothing would be the same. Children grow up and they look up to Santa Clause. Santa Clause goes way beyond the religious aspect of Christmas. To kids, Santa Clause is someone they genuinely look up to. Santa teaches young children to be good kids, smart and, mostly, it gives them hope. Taking that away from children would be a horrible thing to do. Kids out there need things like Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny to grow up and learn good morals. Taking those items away simply because they involve religion is absurd.
    Maybe decreasing the involvement of religion in schools is somewhat a good idea, but completely getting rid of it would be a bad idea.Religion in schools brings about unity, comfort, morality, happiness and more to many people. It should not be taken away.

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    1. Fedah, I see where you are coming from in "decreasing it", although, in today's world, how much more can we exactly decrease what we already know about it? Since religion is interpretive, teachers are only to instruct the students the facts about it..and facts in religion are minuscule.
      Although, i will say that i do agree with you in the aspect that religion is not to be completely eradicated.

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  12. As humans we need something to believe in, something to put faith into. Why? Because that is just how we are, whether we believe there is a god out there or if there is nothing, our belief is still being cultured. Religion should not be banned from schools simply due to the fact that most, if not all events that have happened in history were caused or based on religion. Therefore, then where would the mere concept of history come into play? How about science, kids will ask questions of where we evolved from, what will the teacher reply; the theory of evolution or repeat the story of Jesus Christ? By eliminating religion from schools, we will begin to cultivate a generation of “robot children” with no thorough understanding of what drove people in the past to create what surrounds us today. It is as if the ACLU is dictating the saying “ignorance is bliss.”
    The only thing the ACLU might prevent is a kid coming home with a black eye for having a disagreement.
    By totally ignoring what defines people, society will become very angry. They will begin to have a feeling of being denied of who they are.
    The ACLU can argue that we will be “taking one for the team” in order to prevent events like 9/11 etc. by limiting our understanding of a topic which evidentially causes much controversy in today's world. Although they are omitting that religion is what drives a majority of people, if they are going to take it away, what will they replace it with, academic education? If people are only academically educated, what will give their lives depth and meaning? (I mean numbers can only go so far..)
    In the end, our holidays stem from religion, but they have also become traditions. And you cannot get rid of a tradition, merely because it is a tradition!

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    1. "By eliminating religion from schools, we will begin to cultivate a generation of “robot children” " You are absolutely right! That was the perfect phrase. These children simply become indoctrinated by what is taught to them at home and if they aren't taught anything at home, school doesn't give them the alternative. In schools, children are taught to accept and deal with other religions.

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  13. all people in the world today have faith in the religion that they believe in. now if we disregard all religious activities in public schools, would finally create a "religious free" environment and improve the overall learning atmosphere of public schools? i believe so, because if we get out of the minds that someone is different cause they believe in something different, discrimination will drop, grades will rise, and bulling will drop. I'm not saying remove it totally, just enough to make it not noticeable so kids don't have to worry about racial slurs being said, causing depression and decreasing school work and activities.

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    1. how can you say "discrimination will drop, grades will rise, and bulling will drop"? I look at it this way: The more children learn about other religions, customs, etc, the more open-minded they will become.They will be able to understand and LESS discrimination and bullying would occur. If you are only learning on thing, you tend to be more close-minded to other religions.

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