Secular education vs. religious education

atheistannie's picture

                I recently watched Richard Dawkins on The Big Debate on The subject was on religious education in Britain’s Schools. I can speak from personal experience on the issue first hand. I want to give a little background on myself, so you understand where I’m coming from as an Atheist on these views. I have and always seen myself as an Atheist. In Dawkin’s ‘The God delusion’ he lists 7 possibly categories one considers themselves to belong to. He states that you wouldn’t find too many in the 7 category, but I believe I fall into that category. Meaning I have never believed in anyway shape or form in a higher being or supernatural order  at work, no question, absolutely no agnosticism. I always questioned religion, even at a young age. From the moment I could speak, I always questioned, inquired and severely dismissed as fairy tales.

                My parents believed that it should be my choice in faiths and or religions and it was solely up to me to choose otherwise.  I was certainly given options. I attended a Montessori school, a few public schools, and a private Christian school, which is the sole reason for this. Also, I attended a private/homeschooled Christian orientated school for most of my high school education. Half of 8th and 10th grade were at a public high school. So I had a wide range of different learning aspects, both religious and secular. Besides a few different schools here and there, I had attended your regular Christian camp and even bible study here and there at different churches, mainly for education aspects. My parents believed in their minds, and mostly because of how they were brought up, that we would find a kinder or more compassionate person in those places that was definitely not the case. But it is a giant misconception that religious people are kinder or more compassionate. As I found out throughout the years that the more evil I encountered usually had a religious tag attached to it in some way shape or form.

                While watching ‘The Big Debate’ I heard over and over that they give the child the choice to choose what they want to believe (in religious minded schools), which is so very untrue. I attended Christ the King Academy in Poulsbo, Washington State; obviously a Christian faith based educational school, in 1992. I was twelve years old.  I think at that age, no matter what, is a very impressionable one for anyone. I was in a grade split class where it was seventh and eighth. I will not by any means make any excuses for these people nor will I exaggerate what happened. So that being said, I refused to ‘dress up’ on Wednesdays, which was church day, because of my beliefs and being a stubborn young lady. I also do not make any excuses for myself and will not apologize for my actions in standing up for what I believed. My teacher at the time was Mr. Plummer, which I will go into detail later. He was a very quite odd man, sometimes just sitting in the front of class starring at his desk. Every Wednesday (and some other weekdays) I was taken outside the class and confronted by numerous facility.

                “You’re going to burn in hell.”

                “God doesn’t accept heathens into heaven.”

                “If you do not change your ways, you will forever burn in hell.”

                “What’s wrong with you?”

                The list goes on. I know from personal experience that religious education is damaging and I’m strictly an advocate for secular education. This went on for a year in total. Midway through the year Mr. Plummer committed suicide. His body was found washed up on the shore in Bremerton. I have recently tried to find his obituary online or elsewhere and I currently have an email into the government archives for this information, otherwise I would have it posted on here. It was later revealed that this teacher was hired on just the fact that he was a ‘good Christian’ and had no formal education towards being a teacher. He also had been in a mental facility prior to becoming a teacher for Christ the king academy. I’m currently wondering if these are the reasons to why I cannot find any information on his death, I can’t figure any other reason why I cannot find anything, including just a random obituary. Some of the teachers who harassed and berated me on a daily basis still currently work at this establishment. A teacher named Mr. Anderson took the place of Mr. Plummer and two other incidents are burned into my mind ‘til this day. Some of the eight grade boys were outside in front of the church and school on the main road ‘mooning’ cars as they passed; typical young children’s behavior. A few of us stood on our chairs to look outside and we all got temporarily suspended for looking outside. This was also a church that beat children when they got into trouble and Ian, one of the children that were outside mooning cars, got beat until his skin was purple and bleeding from a large wooden board…. Mr. Anderson cornered David W. in their gym and proceeded to punch him in the face and stomach. A large group of kids, including myself ran to the principal’s office and explained what happened and in response all we got was, “There is no way a good Christian would do something like that.” We of course told our parents and they also got the same response. I have no idea to this day what happened to him or the situation, but that was just another example of religious education in modern society. It’s harmful, medieval and outdated.


                Children shouldn’t be expected to believe at a young age in a supernatural director nor should it be shoved down their throats in an educational manner.  They should have the opportunity to choose for themselves and religions should be taught as the rest of myths are, false and to not pertain to modern times. Here it was the 90s and being taught hell and damnation to a twelve year old who knew who she was at such a young age battling with men and women who hide behind religion just because they were taught the same at a young age. It’s a vicious circle. I only see them as evil and despicable humans, no better than pond scum.  

"Only sheep need a shepherd" - anonymous ?

"Under Christianity neither morality nor religion has any point of contact with actuality. It offers purely imaginary causes and purely imaginary effects" - Nietzsche

cj's picture

I went to public schools my

I went to public schools my entire life.  It seems odd looking back, but there was only one private school when I was in grade school in the entire town.  A Catholic school, it closed by the time I was in high school.  I remember the nuns in their black habits chasing children down to go inside.  (This was long before most of the orders adopted shorter skirts and simpler head coverings.)  I don't know for sure, and I'm not interested enough to look it up, but I'll bet there are quite a few private schools in that town now.

I think the law was changed in Washington, that all private school teachers, religious or not, must now pass a background check for at least criminal history and demonstrable teaching certifications.  Because of those kind of abuses you mention in your post.

In some ways, I think private schools and home schooling do a disservice not only to the children attending, but to the community as well.  It is much more difficult to ensure the children are receiving an informed and comprehensive education, and it is more difficult to oversee any abuse in private schools or at their homes.  It may be relatively easy to stop the abuse from occurring again, but the abused child is forever damaged psychologically.  And my definition of abuse includes the threats of hellfire.

I sent my sons to public schools except for one year for one son.  He was having major problems and the private school was secular and very small.  It seemed to help but I couldn't afford more than one year.  He survived and has 2 associate degrees, certification through the Army, and is now working on a 4 year degree.  Hard to imagine remembering the rough times he had when young.  My grandson is also going to public school.  It really isn't all that bad of an education in most locations.


-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.

Wonderist's picture

atheistannie wrote:But it is

atheistannie wrote:
But it is a giant misconception that religious people are kinder or more compassionate. As I found out throughout the years that the more evil I encountered usually had a religious tag attached to it in some way shape or form.

I noticed the same pattern as I was growing up, too.

I wouldn't consider such people 'pond scum', but rather unwitting victims of brainwashing, who are repeating the cycle of ignorance and abuse that they've been brought up in. It doesn't excuse the behaviour, but I prefer to keep in mind that such behaviour *is* human behaviour, however despicable it might be. Also, it keeps my anger focused on the larger problem, which is religion itself. It may seem like hair-splitting, but I think it's more than that. Keeping separate the concepts of 'people' vs. 'actions' vs. 'ideas' such as religion is also a very effective way to proceed with debates with theists, in my experience.

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harleysportster's picture

My own personal take

I personally have had experiences with religious education in my childhood. Having been an extremely religious person at one time, that had an extremely religious family, I do think it went far and wide for establishing all of these ridiculous ideas that I once had about faith and morality.

To be honest, when I look back on it in retrospect, there was a great deal of indoctrination in those places and in spite of the fact that alot of private education loves to cook up numbers on how much more academic their programs are, their regular curriculum  is not all that great.

I certainly would not want to expose children to any institution of education that teached religious doctrine or superstitious dogmas. I have a big enough issue with the Intelligent Design people that want to force their nonsense into the secular classrooms, let alone the idea of an institution that pushes a religion.


“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno