How the media handles issues with religion at schools

Posted on December 11, 2015 by

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Amber Piercy

12/02/15

Intro to world religions

Mr. Peterson

How the media covers religion in school

 

I went to a catholic school for about two weeks as a kindergartener. I attended St. Vincent De-Paul and even though it was for a short period, I still remember how much they pumped Jesus into our blood stream. After those two weeks, I was moved to a public school and didn’t think much of religion until middle school. During that time, I realized that we didn’t talk about religion in public school, and if we did, it was either ignored or too polite. There was a Jewish kid at my middle school. He was being bullied by a guy. To the point where one night, the bully snuck over to the kids house and drew giant swastika’s on the kids house. The school made a big deal about this, and had a big assembly about religious tolerance. But the message they sent out was a little fuzzy. This gave me a great idea, I was in the newspaper class for school. So I wrote an article about these past events, and talked about the Jewish religion more, trying to explain it more to the kids, and turned it in. This was when I found out that religion was a very pesky topic in public schools. The restrictions on the words and phrases I couldn’t use was a long list. It taught me that schools try to ignore religion and religious tension. And if they had to talk about it, it was so politically correct the message and meaning was taken away. But the media has a different view on religion. They don’t sugar coat it, the cover it in salt.

One thing that a lot of schools do is say the pledge of allegiance every morning before classes. But an article by the New York Times talking about the pledge shows that there are still a lot of people who don’t have any religious tolerance. When a New York state started saying it in Arabic and other languages for national foreign language week, they got in trouble and had to apologize. Why? The complaints were made by students and their parents who took offense because some of them had family die in Afghanistan or some of the parents were Jewish. I don’t understand why someone would take offense from a language. This story shows that anything can be taken offensively by someone. They may relate this language to the Islamic religion. But I believe they just associated it with support Islam. I think it’s silly. This is an example of where a school doesn’t want to deal with the backlash of religion. So they bend over backwards to make people happy. A boy in that school, Andrew Zink, who is the school’s student leader made a comment about his choice to read the pledge of allegiance in Arabic. “What makes you an American is not the language you speak, but the ideas you believe in.” I think he say’s it best. Another article talks about how a student got in trouble for saying “bless you” in school. I believe that this school went too far in case. Bless you has become more informal over the years, to where even non-religious people say it. I understand that public schools don’t want religion in their schools, but I think that it would be ok to have a little religion in schools, if kids learn from a non-biast source about the different religions early, I think everyone might be a little bit more tolerant

Besides the bullying I saw at my school, there are still many cases of bullying over religion. An article by the Huffington post talks about kids who are being bullied for wearing turbans. But unlike the other articles, this one offers a solution. The article talks about the Sikh community and that 50% of the kids in the the Sikh coalition group experience bullying with names like, towel head, terrorist, Osama Bin Landen. The Bullying even includes more violent attacks like a kid in Georgia being punched in the nose, or a bully cutting off hair from someone of Sikh faith, which is against their faith. I like this article, because of the way they address this issue. They keep it non-biast and also give example of how to handle this. They created organizations, hand out pamphlets and talk to kids in school, and even have websites you can visit for tips on how to handle the bullies.

On a rare occasion, a positive news article appears on religion. A buzzfeed article talks about a New York City school district is now observing two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. I think it’s a good call on this school district. This is what I want for all of America. For everyone to be more accepting of everyone’s religion.

I have noticed that a lot of the religious bullying articles I have found have been centered around Islam. There might be other cases of bullying because of another religion. I just think that you’re not going to find a news article on it today. The world really seems focused on being either anti-Islam or pro-Islam. I think the media is focusing on these topics because of that. I’ve noticed that a lot of these articles focus on Islam and Muslims being the victim, and rightly so. But schools aren’t handling these issues right. I don’t think we should censoring religion to public schools. I really do think that if we teach kids the different types of religions early, we would all have better respect for them, and not bully kids for their differences.

 

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