Has the separation of church and state in the US educational system actually inhibited the growth of atheism?

The Patrician
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Has the separation of church and state in the US educational system actually inhibited the growth of atheism?

At first glance this seems like a silly thing to ask, but I wonder...

In the UK we have a class called Religious Education for at least the first two years of secondary school (say, ages 12-14).  The purpose of this class is to instruct children about the various religions in the world and to help them understand the key concepts of each - their major figures, key events, holy scriptures and main festivals.  As a result children are able to critically compare the various religions, agnosticism and atheism and review the case for each.

Does this then give these children an opportunity to reject religion that may not otherwise be available to them?  Consider that a child may be raised in a religious household and may have been told that their belief system is the 'right' one with no opportunity to critically compare the alternatives.   If an RE class is part of the curriculum then this critical  opportunity exists.

Perhaps this is one reason why the UK is both more atheistic and religiously moderate than the US - that is, because we understand the other person's point of view we are more able to dispell some of the myths spread about by our church leaders.

 I should point out that RE classes are NOT in any way concerned with religious indoctrination.  They exist only to inform children about the religions, not to sway them towards a particular faith.   This is an absolute fundamental of the system.

What say you? 

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.

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Two different "monsters" so

Two different "monsters" so to speak.

England and Europe have had a much longer history dealing with the adverse effects of theocracy. The United States was an attempt to break that cycle. But, besides the wise founders who saw the need to seperate religion from goverment, the population haddent caught up with them, so in order to stay in power, like any politician, they had to appeal.

As far as today is concerned. The difference is England reached its "Epifany" long ago and most of America has not. There are still those who would object to a "comparative religion" course in public high schools and grade schools.

The problem is that we have had a history of Christianity dominating what it means to be an American. Be they Catholic or Baptist or Morman all these groups, who even dissagree with each other on issues of left and right, still think that Jesus(left or right|) owns the right to interpret our constitution.

Europe has had a much longer history dealing with religious opression. They are now to the point where they can compair and let people chose on their own. Americans both the religious left and the religious right are a predominant majority that still thinks that they are the only people intiltled to "sit in the drivers seat".

In laymens terms. It would be nice if Americans were ready for that. But they arnt. In our current state I wouldnt trust, lets say, a  Evangelical teacher in a public school in South Carolina to teach a "comparitive religion" class. Nor would that same teacher trust a "Yankey Jew" to teach their kid.

There have been points in our history where we have come close to breaking those berriors. Somehow though, we take two steps back and normally it is because some zealous nut doesnt want to consider that others outside their religion or sect exist.

I can only speek for America here. Right now, the only fair thing I see everybody agreeing to is to "leave it at the door". Just as a Christian would not want a teacher standing in front of a class here saying "God is just pretend". We dont like the fact that a god is asserted every moring in a pledge. 

Europe and Cannada have matured in alot of ways whereas this country is still stuck on 'ME ME ME ME ME ME ME". In other ways though I wouldnt move to Cannada or England because some of their laws would prevent me from blaspheming or criticising people.

Bottem line, America is just not ready for that sort of thing. If peace is to be had here we still have to maintain it by accepting that there are things that are yours, things that are mine, and things that are ours. Most Christians on the left and right seem to think that what is OURS(government) somehow gives them the right to stick us(not just atheists) at the back of the bus.

Mind you not all of America, and not all Americans view the Constitution as Jesus written, but far too many do and we still havent broken that fallacy. 





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Doesn't the U.S have

Doesn't the U.S have classes where they teach about other Gods? Like greek mytology and such?

Maybe our problem is that we don't see Allah or the Christian God as myths yet, but on the other hand we do have alot of church runned schools...but the children there recieve selective bible study with a definite mission to indoctrinate them....

Jeez that's a good question. I think I'll dodge it!Foot in mouth


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