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The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

[OPINION] Teaching about Religion is Illegal in California. Should it be?

Every+student+has+a+different+interest.+Some+students+like+learning+about+art%2C+theater%2C+and+video+production%2C+but+some+students+want+to+learn+about+their+religion+or+other+religions.+Unfortunately%2C+this+isn%E2%80%99t+available+to+many+students+and+because+of+it%2C+they+become+bored+in+class.
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Every student has a different interest. Some students like learning about art, theater, and video production, but some students want to learn about their religion or other religions. Unfortunately, this isn’t available to many students and because of it, they become bored in class.

English, History, Science, and math are all core subjects that students are required to take. Theater, Art, Journalism, and Robotics are examples of electives that students can decide to take. These electives are classes that students can choose to take based on their interests. Every student has a different interest. Some students like learning about art, theater, and video production, but some students want to learn about their religion or other religions. This unfortunately is possible for most public or charter school students in California.

In 1963, the Supreme Court outlawed mandatory Bible study courses in public schools but ruled that schools may teach objectively about religion, as opposed to teaching religious indoctrination, in history classes and “Bible as literature” classes. However, in California, it is strictly against California law for any public school, including charter schools, to offer religious instruction. Under the California state constitution, all public education must be non-sectarian and the teaching or funding of any religious or faith-based “public” school is strictly prohibited.

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. If this amendment guarantees freedom of religion, why should school-age kids not have the right to learn about religion? The ban on mandatory religion classes in elementary, middle, and high school made it so teachers were not allowed to preach their beliefs to their students. This ban is also unconstitutional for the same reason. If these teachers are not allowed to speak on these topics, that is taking away their freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

The main group of people who are pushing for a religion class in public schools is the Christians. However, if a Religion class were allowed to be taught in a school, it would have to be a World Religion class, taught by an unbiased teacher. This is because not everyone in these schools is Christian and despite this, many kids still want to learn about religion. Not only would this class be beneficial for students who weren’t raised in a religious household but for the kids who disagree with their parent’s beliefs and want to explore other religions.

In 2022, a survey was conducted in which people around the world stated what their religion was. The survey came back with Christianity and Islam being the top two religions believed in. Just over 31 percent of people said that they believed in Christianity and just under 25 percent of people believed in Islam.

In 2022, a survey was conducted in which people around the world stated what their religion was. The survey came back with Christianity and Islam being the top two religions believed in. Just over 31 percent of people said that they believed in Christianity and just under 25 percent of people believed in Islam. These two religions are both very popular in separate areas. Christianity is very popular in America and other English-speaking countries, while Islam is very popular in the Middle East. Just under these two popular religions is something called unaffiliated, with 15 percent of people aligning with this. Unaffiliated means that this section of people does not believe in a specific organized religion.

In high school, students have more freedom to choose what they want to learn about. They are allowed to choose what elective they want to take. These electives range from leadership/ASB to Robotics, to Journalism. Many students use electives to decide what they want to do in college or after high school. There are a lot of kids who want to become priests, pastors, or other religious leaders, but if they aren’t given the option to learn about other religions how will they know if it interests them? Students can choose to take these electives and if they don’t they will be placed in one of these. This would also be the case in the World Religions class. However, the counseling department would not be allowed to place students in this class without the permission of the parents and students to make sure that no students are being forced to take the class. In addition to this, the teacher and curriculum would need to be evaluated often to make sure that it stays unbiased.

An anonymous high school student at SRA stated “I transferred to Santa Rosa from a Christian high school. We were required to take a religion class every year. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed these classes until I didn’t have them anymore.” When asked if a World Religion class at Santa Rosa Academy would be beneficial for its students, they state, “Everyone should have an understanding of other religions. Without an understanding, there is a lack of empathy and compassion for others.” When people don’t know all the information about something they make assumptions about it. This causes division and resentment for a false narrative and stereotype.

California and other states making teaching religion illegal causes students to not have an understanding of other religions. This lack of understanding results in students not knowing what they want to do after high school, a severe lack of empathy, and an increase in prejudice and stereotypes. In addition to this, religious students will feel a lack of representation and inclusion in the school.

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About the Contributor
Abby Marshman, Managing Editor
Senior at Santa Rosa Academy, Abby Marshman, was born and raised in Murrieta, California. She exemplifies her ambition and drive through her devotion to soccer– as well as her love for math. Upon graduating high school, she dreams of attending the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and majoring in computer science. When Abby has time to kick-back and relax, you can find her with a good dystopian novel or watching her favorite movie, “Pride and Prejudice”. 
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