Religious Neutrality?

I’m getting ready to write a letter to the editor in the local newspaper where the writer said she didn’t support creation being taught in schools as religion has no place in the public schools. Instead, religion is for the home and for the religious school. Interestingly, to show this, the Jewish writer gives a story on how a Christian teacher treated her as if this illustrates religion in the public schools is a bad thing.

To begin with, the tale of using a story is a more postmodern one. Stories can be used of course, but the point of these stories is to get a purely emotional reaction. This is exactly what the story I read does and I will confess, it does it well. I’m sure the writer got several readers drawn into it.

However, I could make up a story that could be just as likely. Imagine I as a young man go into my High School science class and the teacher sees my necklace and says, “Oh. A cross? Are you a Christian?” I answer that I am and she says “Well, I prefer that you sit in the back then and have the students that really care about science sit in the front.”

No. This didn’t happen. However, if it had, what would it have proven? Only one thing. It would have proven that my teacher was a jerk. Evolution could still be entirely true and my teacher could be entirely a jerk. On the other hand, a Christian teacher could be entirely a saint, and Christianity false.

Secondly though, she seems to assume that religious private life can be separated from religious public life. I contend that it cannot. Instead, my Christianity teaches me how I am to live in public. Want me to have no traces of my religion in public? Sure. That just means I have no reason to love my fellow man in public then.

In fact, at this point, the writer surrendered religious neutrality. As soon as she tells me to leave my religion at home, she is making a claim about my religion. While she says she doesn’t want to endorse any religion, she is. She’s endorsing the idea of humanism that says that religion is not for public discussion.

This is my problem. Please note I have no problem with her stating her argument and putting it in the local paper. That’s the way the system works and that’s the way ideas are exchanged. I have a problem with her assuming that she’s religiously neutral while telling everyone how they should live their religion.

Such religious neutrality is a myth. Christ said it best, as he has a tendency to do. “You are either for me or against me.”

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