New Media Project: Religion in Schools

Posted on December 13, 2013 by

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In my media project I wanted to look at media sources addressing religion in the American school system.  Because of America’s separation of church and state there arise many debates and conflicts about what can be allowed within the school system, where exactly the line needs to be drawn.  An example of this is religious practices such as yoga, meditation, prayer, or simply celebrating one’s religion within the school.  Additionally religious clothing, sayings, and images can be seen as both breaking the idea of separation of church and state and also people expressing themselves, this line is crossed frequently as to what is the right way to handle these issues.  In recent years some schools have come under fire about these themes and it is essential to take a deeper look in order to analyze these issues in order to create equality for all religions or lack of within the public school system.

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(Protestors in favor of Muslim Holidays in the school system demonstrating for their cause)

In a first article I found that relates to this idea of religion in the schools is one about Muslims throughout America trying to have their voices heard about schools closing for the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.  The article talks about some proponents for this change who feel that it is essential for those of the Muslim faith to be able to take off these holidays from school rather than have the dilemma of choosing between religion and their education something no student should have to do.  Their argument is for equal representation of religions as so many other religions are able to have their major holidays off from school.  The article also notes the opposition to this change who feel that this need is unjustified.  This article gives off the impression that it is in favor of the change from the title stating the gain in momentum for this cause as well as the picture of people supporting with signs.  This shows the general support for Muslim holidays in the schools.  The language used in this article is one that supports equality among the religions as well as distaste that this is an issue in the first play.  The writing seems to scoff at the fact that other religions are able to take days off from school for their purposes while Muslims have been denied this right.  The source of this article is an independent news that writes the stories it wants to cover in order to let them be heard by the general public.  This article in particular shows promise of its reliability for its interview with leaders of the movement as well as some politicians that what to push for this change if possible.  This article sets up the good guys to be those in favor of allowing Muslims to have the day off from school to celebrate their holidays while the bad guys are those opposed to this change.  This article sets up those that oppose to be bad in the fact that they are trying to deny people who are Muslim this equality within the school district.  This source seems to have some political influences based on the two politicians they have interviewed.   Additionally the groups they have talked about have political and social influences as they try and fight for the equality of religions in schools.  This article doesn’t seem to put down any religions in particular but rather asks for equality among them so that everyone can be represented without feeling they have been shafted.  This story is a bit under the radar however I imagine it is starting this trend of this idea gaining momentum and has the possibility to bring this idea to a larger audience.

Another article I found on this topic was about students in an advanced world studies class who had been taken to visit a mosque and Hindu temple which caused outrage among some parents.  I believe this article shows the importance of teaching religion and teaching about religion and how the two can be misconstrued as the other so easily.  The article talks about the parents view point and how they feel their children are being taught to be tolerant of all religions except Christianity, while some students of the class have spoken out and said that this class was some students only chance to learn more in an open environment about other religions, something many of these students craved.  This article gives the first impression that this school has wronged its students and parents in bringing students to these religious places however after reading through it a few times I began to think that both sides of the argument are properly represented in the article showing that in some people’s opinions by taking away these field trips the students are missing out on valuable opportunities to learn of other religions.  This source seems to have reliable coverage of the situation based on its interviews with both students and parents that are involved in the situation as well as addressing the how this ordeal has played out.  I believe this article promotes the idea that this school was teaching religion through this course.  I think the most important thing that can be taken away from this article is that teaching religion in schools is a violation of the separation of church and state however on the other hand students go to school to learn, because of their craving for knowledge they choose to take courses like the one talked about in the article.  It’s is the students right to be able to learn about religion and the schools should be able to provide this to them.

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(Picture of student demonstrating for religious freedom in school)

This article talks about the arguments coming from both sides over an issue of prayer being sponsored within a school district before football games.  The one side argues that this is a violation of our first amendment and that in no way a school should sponsor religious practices within the school district.  On the other hand they feel that this is their own religious expression and as such there shouldn’t be something that can limit their rights to this.  Obviously the thing to take away from this article is what sorts of religious expressions should be allowed in school and what shouldn’t.  In the article there is also an example of a school that had a portrait of Jesus and received a fine for this.  These cases come from the American Civil Liberties Union and are set out to represent first amendment rights.  Additionally in this article you can see that the author goes to tell mostly on the issue at hand rather than their personal view points on the topic.  The source comes from a Christian news source which would likely tend to side with the students who want to express their religion how they feel proper in school without the interference of outside groups.  The good guys in this scenario are those that want to express their religion while the bad guys are those trying to limit these freedoms.  This issue plays on the line between what is allowed with the first amendment and is therefore an important thing to look at when learning about religion in school districts.

All in all these articles demonstrate some of the major issues that arise from religions in the school district and are all able to bring about good points for both sides of the arguments.  These major cases are that there needs to be equal representation in schools among the religion and no one religion should be highlighted as above the rest.  Additionally the idea of teaching religion versus teaching about religion is important as the reason for our public school system is to teach and for the students to learn and expand their horizon without having viewpoints forced upon them.  And finally the idea that people need to be able to express their personal beliefs is important but needs to be done in a manner that doesn’t affect others and isn’t put on by the public school system.  All together this is a hot topic because of its relation to our first amendment while also touching on so many other freedoms we have been promised by our constitution.

Sources

“Closing Schools for Muslims Gaining Momentum.” WND. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.

Klein, Rebecca. “Nashville-Area School District Receives Heat For Taking Students On Field Trip To Mosque.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/prayer-at-football-games-warning-issued-by-aclu-to-tenn-schools-106136/.” Christian Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.

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