Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finding the balance between separation of church and state

Friday morning I went to a Dad's event at my childrens' elementary school. The idea was for the various father's to learn how to do things like encourage your children to do well by validating them, or tracking their grades, or things like that.

I'll be honest - it was not terribly well planned out (as in, dad's showed up, and the promised food wasn't there), the video we were invited to watch didn't have sound at first (seems they forgot to check if the computers showing the movie had sound), and it felt like the teacher kind of put it together 10 minutes before the event.

But there was one event that threw me, and I'm not sure how to react. At one point, the teacher pulled out a proverb about instructing our children. I was tempted to quote Proverb 23:13-14 "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell", and ask if we should start beating out children - since the Bible says that too.

I refrained.

I'm very very much a supporter of separation of church and state. I'm all right with teaching The Bible as literature, say in a mythology class alongside Greek and Norse legends. But the moment you start using it as a tool of morality and instruction in schools, there's a world of bad that can result as people start picking what parts of the Bible to follow. The "love your neighbor" stuff is fine, but the "take up your sword" or "kill the men, kill the women who aren't virgins then take the virgins as wives" doesn't exactly sound like good behavior.

That said, I'll keep a close eye on this for the next meeting. Once is fine. If it becomes a habit, I might ask if he can find more than one source of pithy sayings to choose from - before we start being asked into a prayer circle.

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