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What to pick with religion in schools?
I'm an atheist and dh is a fence siter.


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26 replies to this topic

#1 censura carnero

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:03 PM

I'm on my mobile so I apologise in advance for mistakes.

I'm an atheist but I find religion fascinating from a socio-historical perspective. I wld love my children to learn about all religions but the choices are: none (my preference), ecumenical Christian (DH,s choice) and Baha'i. I actually was quite interested and fascinated about Baha'i but dh is acting like I've said I want to commit the kids to a life of a monk in a monastery starting this second. His beliefs are Luke warm and I'm an  atheist willing for my children to be educated in a broad sense. My son has just had a year at an Anglican school so he has had a good 12  months of Christian instruction. Hes just moved to a state school that i love so far. Hence why these decisions are having to be made.  Am I being unreasonable  or is he?

Edited by censura carnero, 01 February 2013 - 10:07 PM.


#2 Froger

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:17 PM

I'd probably go with the Christian religious classes, merely because I think it would be more useful in terms of being able to understand literature, poetry, movies (so many seem to be about the Holy Grail these days!) even the news (at times biblical references and terms do tend to pop up), history, geography, and much current Western thinking and Western society generally. It also helps with understanding foreign policy of many countries. It also helps with understanding Islam and Judaism to a certain extent, and helps explain a lot of foreign policy of the US in regards to the Middle East.

While Bahai is certainly interesting, I don't think it is as useful to have knowledge of the religion in our society, IYKWIM.

ETA: Sorry! Seems I totally misread your question and went off on a tangent. Anyway, I think your DH is right.

Edited by SarahM72, 01 February 2013 - 10:19 PM.


#3 censura carnero

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:24 PM

Why do u think he's right? Ds has had a year of Christiana teachings and although I'm an atheist I'm more than capable of teaching him Christian ideologies.

#4 Mitis angelam

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:28 PM

If you want him to learn about all religions, my understanding is that the Baha'i curriculum does this, as they believe that all of the major religions were valid revelations for their time (or something to that effect).

#5 censura carnero

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:32 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 01/02/2013, 10:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you want him to learn about all religions, my understanding is that the Baha'i curriculum does this, as they believe that all of the major religions were valid revelations for their time (or something to that effect).


That's what I was hoping. A tolerant middle ground possibiliy. As I said religion is do interesting to me so I want my kids to learn about all kinds  thanks Ange verte.

#6 Feral_Pooks

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:41 PM

I really couldn't pass up the chance of Bahai instruction! What an opportunity. You could suggest he do a year of it, so he had a year of each, and then choose himself the following year??

#7 Froger

Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:48 PM

Well I guess it comes back to what you hope your son will learn, and what you think would be most useful.

For example:

Do you want him to learn a little about all religions (if that is indeed what Bahai will teach - I am not certain this would necessarily be the case)? This is probably more useful for learning about tolerance and acceptance of other people (maybe).

Or do you want him to get more of a deeper perspective of one religion - the one that shaped and informs our Western way of thinking and way of life? Which will help him as he gets older to more comprehensively comprehend everything from texts he studies for English to world politics.

Or do you want to avoid completely any risk at all of him being brainwashed by scripture teachers who may very well perhaps be looking to convert the unbelievers!

etc etc



#8 TeaTimeTreat

Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:04 PM

As my sons school has volunteers to teach religion and I cannot be guaranteed it will be taught in a comparative way I chose to opt him out as he is far too young to question what he is being taught.

But if I had to choose one I would pick Bahai.

#9 Gudrun

Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:17 PM

I'd give the Baha'i a go.  The fact that he has learnt something about one religion already, doing another one next implies a comparative approach.

#10 Froger

Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:39 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 01/02/2013, 10:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you want him to learn about all religions, my understanding is that the Baha'i curriculum does this, as they believe that all of the major religions were valid revelations for their time (or something to that effect).


I'm still awake and bored so actually had a quick look at the Bahai International website just now. Now I'd actually be interested in knowing what the curriculum is exactly. While Bahai beliefs do indeed incorporate what you say Ange Vert, after looking at their website I'm not sure they would actually be teaching the other religions as such.

If you actually go to the Bahai international website, and read what they believe, and read their Holy book Kitab i Aqdas (available translated from the Arabic to the English, it is short and won't take long if you are so inclined) it actually seems to me that it is very much a bastardised form of Islam in miniature (from my lay person's perspective). Very very similar to Islam. The whole website doesn't really have much to say about other religions at all. It seems to me to mainly discuss a form of "Islam", and the slight dispensations allowed to Bahais from the obligatory Muslim prayers and such. While I won't say it is virtually indentical to Islam (it isn't), on a cursory persual of their website it seems to be mainly drawn from that religion.

http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/KA/

So yeah, Bahai faith may not be as much about diverse religions and other faiths as you think OP, so I'm even less certain now after looking at their website that Bahai scripture lessons for kids would discuss other religions in much depth (if that's what you were hoping for).

Edited by SarahM72, 01 February 2013 - 11:46 PM.


#11 Mitis angelam

Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:41 PM

I only said that because there's another EB member (I think it's Blish?) who is Baha'i and knows the curriculum and has said that it takes that of approach.  I actually don't know much about it myself.

#12 Spa Gonk

Posted 02 February 2013 - 02:27 AM

I would choose none, though I have no idea what Baha'i is.  I also have no idea of the age of your child, which may make a difference to my answer.

I would be concerned that if he is sent to a particular church they are not going to teach him about religions, but rather that their religion is the true one and it is a way of life.  From my own experience of Sunday school in the upper primary years, it is not taught objectively and I do not see them taking kindly to lots of philosophical questions about whether a god or whoever exists.  Then there is the whole notion of sinning and I think it would be hard as a younger child not to get caught up in it all.

Not sure if I am conveying it all or even right, but the church is made up of believers that are practising and learning their way of life, rather than just giving facts about a religion.

#13 ComradeBob

Posted 02 February 2013 - 06:34 AM

It is Blish who is Baha'i. She's not round much ATM but if you PM her you should hopefully get an answer.  original.gif

Personally, I have opted out of DD doing any religion because in state schools IME the teachers are all volunteers for the relevant church, I'm dubious as to the educational merit of getting one volunteers take on religion, which is obviously not going to be impartial, and I'd rather her head not get filled with beliefs that we as a family do not subscribe to.

#14 ~Supernova~

Posted 02 February 2013 - 06:40 AM

I have kept DD out of religion up until this year. This year I thought it would be more fair to give her the choice. We had a big talk about how there are many beliefs, and "gods", and that she didn't have to believe any particular version. She has decided to partake, so should be interesting.

Neither DH or I are religious.

We are also still on the hunt for a suitable book that covers this topic well :/

#15 Coffeegirl

Posted 02 February 2013 - 07:18 AM

QUOTE (sparkler @ 02/02/2013, 12:04 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As my sons school has volunteers to teach religion and I cannot be guaranteed it will be taught in a comparative way I chose to opt him out as he is far too young to question what he is being taught.

But if I had to choose one I would pick Bahai.



QUOTE (WingBob @ 02/02/2013, 07:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It is Blish who is Baha'i. She's not round much ATM but if you PM her you should hopefully get an answer.  original.gif

Personally, I have opted out of DD doing any religion because in state schools IME the teachers are all volunteers for the relevant church, I'm dubious as to the educational merit of getting one volunteers take on religion, which is obviously not going to be impartial, and I'd rather her head not get filled with beliefs that we as a family do not subscribe to.


DD did Anglican and DS has opted out completely from religious studies.     If I asked DD right now what she learned, I can tell you it would be very little more than we taught her at home.   The hour long lessons taught by volunteers seemed to consist of singing some hymns or songs, colouring in and a couple of book readings.   It certainly was not in any way a formal teaching of anything.  

I don't think the kids get any real understanding or knowledge of the particular religion 'class' that they attend.   In fact they get mis-information depending on the volunteer and the volunteer's 'commitment' to their particular religion.    A good friend of mine's daughter came home in tears because one of these volunteers told her that the red stripes on a candy cane symbolised the blood of Christ.    huh.gif

Personally I would prefer to see these classes removed entirely and any religious instruction be given by parents and the parent's church.  



#16 censura carnero

Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:42 PM

QUOTE (Coffeegirl @ 02/02/2013, 07:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
DD did Anglican and DS has opted out completely from religious studies.     If I asked DD right now what she learned, I can tell you it would be very little more than we taught her at home.   The hour long lessons taught by volunteers seemed to consist of singing some hymns or songs, colouring in and a couple of book readings.   It certainly was not in any way a formal teaching of anything.  

I don't think the kids get any real understanding or knowledge of the particular religion 'class' that they attend.   In fact they get mis-information depending on the volunteer and the volunteer's 'commitment' to their particular religion.    A good friend of mine's daughter came home in tears because one of these volunteers told her that the red stripes on a candy cane symbolised the blood of Christ.    huh.gif

Personally I would prefer to see these classes removed entirely and any religious instruction be given by parents and the parent's church.


Me too. Religion does not belong in stare schools. Those who want it should cough up the private school fees or get off their lazy arses and take their children to church.


#17 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:09 PM

Bless the South Australian Education System.

#18 Propaganda

Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:39 PM

Doing religious education classes is not about educating them about religion. It's about indoctrination.

I would absolutely fine with my child doing a class that taught her about the various religions. I am not fine with her being taught a particular religion as though its teachings are fact. That is how RE works though, and therefore, I have opted out of it altogether.

She can decide if she wants to follow any religion once she old enough to understand that choice and can think critically. She sees school as a place of learning, and therefore factual. If she was to sit in on an RE class, because it is in a school, she would believe it as fact. That's just not okay with me.

#19 BadCat

Posted 03 February 2013 - 07:48 AM

I'd opt out.

I can teach my children religious stories in my spare time and without any element of religious indoctrination at all.  I won't encourage them to explore religion at all as children.  If they want to I won't stop them but I'd never encourage it.  I'm very glad that ACT schools don't have to have religion.

#20 Comrade Borgia

Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:04 AM

The situation in nsw (where I am) is ludicrous .....so at DS's school he does "non religion", which is basically colouring in. They can't do anything which could be remotely classed as "educational" (such as doing readers) because then the kids doing religious ed would miss out....ok...well then why not scrap religious ed (in state schools) and, you know, educate them.....? Religious instruction is best left to the family and the relevant church/mosque/temple etc....

My son's school does offer ethics, which I think is a great alternative to religious ed, but not until yr 3, and funding for this is apparently at risk. This is all to appease one politician, Fred Nile.....that's probably an overly simplistic explanation, but it's close to the truth....

#21 Feraldadathome

Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:01 PM

In NSW, kids do comparative religion in year 3. DS9's class visited a mosque and a synagogue as part of the same excursion during this course of study.

He was "no religion" when he started school, so colouring in (apart form the one teacher who read them fables ie. morality/ethics in disguise). His old school (DS5's school form tomorrow) is currently extending ethics classes down to year3. DS5 will also be no religion.

#22 GenWhy

Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:39 PM

At our school I have out all 3 as no religion. They're the only kids whose parents have opted out so to speak. They tried to include them a few times and I complained to the Ed dept so now they are excluded and they do colouring in. What really pees me off is the end if year assembly - full nativity play where the kids were assigned roles of Jesus and Mary and angels etc. my kids were not allowed to participate. I don't feel it's appropriate for a state school's end of year event to be religious.

#23 Otis the Pug

Posted 03 February 2013 - 02:21 PM

I think it is nice, that even thought you are an atheist, you want to educate your son on religion. I don't know how old your son is, maybe he is old enough for you to ask him if he want's to continue with Christianity. Personally since he has spent 12 months learning Christianity, I think that you should stick with that. Religion is only as strict as you allow it to be (referring to the monk in the monastery.)

#24 noi'mnot

Posted 03 February 2013 - 02:48 PM

I'd look at the religious education curriculum at each school and compare them, and make the decision from there. If you can't get straight/acceptable answers from the curriculum outline or teacher of either, then tread with care.

I'm pretty sceptical about any religion's capacity to teach comparative religion, from their own point of view.

#25 ms flib

Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:03 PM

As an atheist myself, I do not want my children to have any religious 'instruction' at this stage.

I would also like them to study comparative religion - I'm more interested in them having knowledge than religious beliefs. At the same time, I want them to learn about science, nature and culture without religious interference.

In a sense, it is looking after the environment which is becoming spiritually meaningful for them as well as ideas of social equity.




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