Thursday, August 24, 2006

If only there was another way.

And once again, church and state get entangled in awkward and uncomfortable ways:

Christian mission statement at Winkler public schools questioned

A public school division in Winkler, Man., will have to review its mission statement, following a request from the Manitoba Human Rights Commission to change its Christian-themed declaration.

The Garden Valley School Division's mission statement says schools operate "in partnership with the home, church and community" based on Christian principles, among other things.

In its letter of May 31, the commission said it was concerned with the division's statement of partnership with the church and its reference to education based on Christian principles.

OK, so there's a "mission statement" but it's not like there's anything religiously untoward happening, right?

"We don't have any religious instruction in our schools, either before or after school hours," he said.

See? Not an issue whatsoever. No religious instruction in the school. Not before. Not after. Case closed. End of discussion. Problem solved.

"We do have religious exercises at the request of parents, outside of the instruction of the day. They would take the form of three- to five-minute devotionals which would probably be a Bible reading and the Lord's Prayer."

Well ... alright, maybe just a teeny, weeny bit. But, as we all know, those Mennonites are busy folks, and sometimes it's tough to find 3 to 5 minutes of down time to do that sort of thing off of school property.

I have an idea, though. It occurs to me that all of this could be resolved if, somehow, the folks who wanted to be religious could, perhaps, arrange a location off of public property to hold their religious devotionals. Maybe somewhere they could meet on a regular basis that has nothing to do with the public school system, where they could worship as they wanted, free from any possible entanglement with a taxpayer-funded, educational system, and which would solve any potential conflicts between religion and government.

It's just a wild and crazy idea. I'm sure it'll never fly.


Deanna said...

[shrug] I don't care if they have their short devotionals as long as they are extra-curricular. Schools are used for extra-curricular activities all the time. Of course, I would expect the schools to allow these sorts of activities by other religions, you know, a short sweet grass ceremony or two, letting the Muslim kids say their prayers, Hindu or Buddhist meetings, oh and definitely Wiccan and FSM ceremonies.

Anonymous said...

Actually - I think it would be a good education for them to work through all the religions they could (sort of riffing on deanna's idea). One week, open with the (Christian) lord's prayer (of course, being Mennonite, the boys should be on one side of the room wearing black pants and the girls on the other wearing black skirts), one week with a Jewish blessing (you know...with gender-appropriate roles), one week with Islamic prayers (complete with mats facing east, the womenfolk in separate rooms, etc.)...then have the teachers explain what's going on with all the boy/girl differentiation thing. THAT would be an education.

Buffalo said...

So how do you feel about the mandatory Sunday closing of businesses in some communities? Does it violate separation of church and state or respecting one religion over another?