One of the fundamental influences on childhood development is the religion the child is raised into. Religion has been engrained into American culture since its inception. However, religion has decayed in modern day America, and this fear of a Godless America has encouraged some people to desire religion be taught in public education. “For better and for worse, religious convictions play a central role in shaping events in America and throughout the world.” (Haynes, 9) Even though religion teaches morals, the importance of community, and many people credit their religion for their success, the belief of separation of church and state is a valid argument. What is the role of religion in a child’s life when it comes to schooling? Religion cannot be taught in the American public school system.
Spirituality has always had a special contribution in every society and in every culture. However, many societies today have an increasing number of atheists. The atheist belief is simply that there is no God of any kind. This conviction frightens people of many different religions because they believe a person without God is a person without religion. In their minds without religion a person does not have morals. This fallacy that a person needs God to be moral is the reason why people fear that America is on a declining spiral. Although, it can be said that many people today are less moral than in past generations, the easy target to attack is the rise in atheism. However, the real culprit is religious ignorance. “The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released the first nationwide survey of American religious knowledge, based on interviews with 3,412 adults who answered 32 questions on the Bible and the world's religions. Not surprisingly, the nation as a whole failed. Respondents correctly answered only 16 out of 32 questions on average for a score of 50%” (Prothero). This has inspired more people to join the movement that is trying to have religion taught in public schools.
The most difficult thing that comes with teaching religion is the forcing of beliefs, not to turn a lecture into a sermon. “Teachers and administrators are prohibited from either encouraging or discouraging religious activity and from participating in such activity with students.” (Simpson) School is supposed to teach students how to think, not what to think. “The special problem that confronts religious education is that teaching religion is thought by many to be the same as teaching students to be religious. But that this is a confusion is now, perhaps clear in that, if my view is correct, ‘teaching religion’ (or, RE) is a second order activity, whereas ‘being religious’ (like ‘being a priest’) is a first order form of experience.” (Sealey, 54) Just because religion is the topic of discussion does not mean the one must follow the subject. Not everybody follows what they read in history books.
As I say, not all of Jefferson's ideas were popular, though most of them were...