Wedding Etiquette Forum

Religion in schools question

A friend of ours wrote me yesterday because her son told her that in music class (her son and my son are in the same class), they were taught a Thanksgiving song and, as part of the song, each kid had to fill in this blank:

"I thank the lord for ______________."

Now, while I am an atheist and my son isn't being raised in any religious tradition, I'm not usually militant about it.  My son hasn't really decided whether he believes or not (he's only 10), but he and this other friend were apparently joking around, saying "I thank the lord for not being real."  (they were joking outside of class, not in class, otherwise he'd be in trouble with me for that) 

I haven't had a chance to talk with my son about it, but this friend said that her son did say it made him feel pretty uncomfortable to have to say what he thanks the lord for, when he doesn't believe in a lord. 

 So, teaching this song seems really inappropriate to me, but is it worth a fight?  WDYT? 

ETA:  This is a public school.

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Re: Religion in schools question

  • I would bring it up with someone, I don't know if you should talk to the teacher first or just go straight to the principal. I would definitely have a problem with that statement being taught to my kids because I don't think that should be forced on anyone regardless of their religious affiliation, or lack thereof.
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  • I would have a problem with it. I don't think any type of religion should be brought into the classroom in public schools.  If parents want their children to have religion as part of their lessons, then they can send them to private schools.

    In this instance, I might write a letter to the teacher kindly explaining my stance and opinion on the subject. She might not have even realized that some might be offended or uncomfortable with this. A letter could possibly make her realize "Oh my bad I should probably leave that out in the future."

    At this level, I don't think I would involve anyone other than the teacher. If I received a response back telling me that she absolutely insists on including the Lord in her lessons, then I would be inclined to take it up with the principle.
  • I agree that it was inappropriate for a public school. They should have left it as "I am thankful for __________."

    But then again you do have God in the pledge of Alligiance in public schools, so it is an area that definitely gets hairy...
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:b258b595-cab2-4c8f-9fb1-ccf62a8ed2e0">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]Hell, if I had a kid, and I heard he told the teacher that he thanked the lord for not being real, I might get him a present. The teacher would have deserved it.<strong> I don't know how far it's worth going. I might say something to the teacher, but I'd be nice about it, and I'd only go to the principal if she gave me a really pissy answer. Probably best not to get your teacher to hate your kid over something relatively minor.</strong>
    Posted by sarah0725[/QUOTE]

    I agree with this. If this is the first time the teacher has done something like this, I might not make too big of a stink about it.  If, however, she's done stuff like this before, then it's another story. But I bet she probably didn't think anything about it, which is wrong, yes, but probably not ill-intentioned. 
    But I don't think you're wrong about feeling uncomfortable about it at all; I'm a bit uncomfortable about it, and I am a Christian.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:5aa27d1f-2026-412d-a225-c9a8e5753e6b">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]I would have a problem with it. I don't think any type of religion should be brought into the classroom in public schools.  If parents want their children to have religion as part of their lessons, then they can send them to private schools. In this instance, I might write a letter to the teacher kindly explaining my stance and opinion on the subject. She might not have even realized that some might be offended or uncomfortable with this. A letter could possibly make her realize "Oh my bad I should probably leave that out in the future." At this level, I don't think I would involve anyone other than the teacher. If I received a response back telling me that she absolutely insists on including the Lord in her lessons, then I would be inclined to take it up with the principle.
    Posted by Birdie1483[/QUOTE]

    I also agree with this. I can't word what I want to say properly, so I'm just going to ditto everything, lol.
  • Talk to the teacher and express your honest opinions.  IMO, the teacher should probably change it to "I'm thankful for______________". 
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  • I find this incredibly inappropriate.  I would definitely bring it up with your son's school's administration.
  • I'll throw in that generally, though, I wouldn't have a problem with kids learning God-based songs in music class, or learning about religious music. It's just true that some of the greatest Western music was written with a Christian audience in mind, and when a school is too stringent on, say, a choir director who is picking out music for the school concert, then there can be a problem.

    However, I doubt Bach or Mozart wrote "I thank the Lord for _____." And the idea that this teacher is basically forcing the kids to participate in constructing their own faith-based sentences is troubling. Also, this is a pretty Judeo-Christian construct, no? Would a sentence like that work for a Hindu or Buddhist kid?
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:346e6c48-cf68-4f52-b6c7-e6a064730e71">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]I agree that it was inappropriate for a public school. They should have left it as "I am thankful for __________." <strong>But then again you do have God in the pledge of Alligiance in public schools, so it is an area that definitely gets hairy...
    </strong>Posted by jerseydevil[/QUOTE]

    Not that hairy really.  Things like the pledge and the opening prayer for congress and council meetings have been deemed tradition and not religious.  The US Supreme Court even has a carving in the moulding of the commandments - only seven of them though; the first three about God are not there.  The "under God" was not part of the Pledge (written by a minister btw) until the 1950s when the country went BSC trying to show how unlike we were from the athiest communists.  What this teacher did, however, crosses the line.
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  • I would talk to the teacher before talking to the principal. 

    What was the context of the song within the class?  Meaning, does this teacher also have them do activities acknowledging other people's beliefs?  Do they learn about Judaism, Hinduism, people who do not believe, other cultures, etc?  I don't think religion should be taught in public schools, but I don't think it's a problem to teach that religion exists.  Does that make sense?
  • I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school, so songs like this were the norm. However, as I've grown and matured, I have become more agnostic, partially because I disagree with so many of the things the Catholic church teaches. My mom always took me to church, but she also told me that if I wanted her to take me to a different church or if I wanted to learn about another religion, she would help me do that.

    I don't think this appropriate for a public school. If it were my child, I would sit down with him and discuss his feelings. I may call the school, but it also may be too big of a fight for something so minor. As long as you are discussing it with your son, he understands that you support him making up his own mind, and he not disrupting class, I think you are doing your duty to your son.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:346e6c48-cf68-4f52-b6c7-e6a064730e71">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]I agree that it was inappropriate for a public school. They should have left it as "I am thankful for __________." But then again <strong>you do have God in the pledge of Alligiance in public schools</strong>, so it is an area that definitely gets hairy...
    Posted by jerseydevil[/QUOTE]

    Not all of us are comfortable with that.
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  • I'm an atheist and I do tend to be militant.  Needless to say, this wouldn't fly with me.  I would talk to the teacher first, though.  It's possible she just didn't think.  If she is apologetic and agrees not to do it again, then I'd let it go.  If she continues to insist that she did nothing wrong, then I would take it to the administration.
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  • ... I have Thank the Lord for the Night Time in my head now.  Thanks OWN!
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  • Heh.  Sorry, Celles. 

    I keep thinking about well, what exactly is Thanksgiving?  To whom are we giving thanks, if not to god, for our abundance and the good things in our lives? 

    We definitely fudge that issue with our kids - we give thanks to our friends for being good friends, to our families for loving us,etc., etc.  But I realize that is not really in the tradition of the holiday - it's just our atheist spin on things. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:64bf8a46-dc8e-4c5a-8952-8cf222e897ba">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]Heh.  Sorry, Celles.  I keep thinking about well, what exactly is Thanksgiving?  To whom are we giving thanks, if not to god, for our abundance and the good things in our lives?  We definitely fudge that issue with our kids - we give thanks to our friends for being good friends, to our families for loving us,etc., etc.  But I realize that is not really in the tradition of the holiday - it's just our atheist spin on things. 
    Posted by ohwhynot[/QUOTE]

    Well, I kinda feel like it's similar to celebrating Christmas or Easter as an atheist, although Thanksgiving is a bit more secular. I'm not sure what we're going to do with our kids with these things yet.
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  • Yes, Sarah, those are tough.  My daughter actually asked why we celebrate Christmas, and I basically told her that, while it is a religious tradition for most people, in our family we use the tradition to reconnect with family and share gifts.  Where Santa fits in, I have no idea. 
  • CellesCelles member
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    edited November 2010
    I kind of feel that we atheists have as much of a claim on Christmas as the Christians do, given that they hijacked it first.  :)
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  • edited November 2010
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:b596ee13-e12d-47c8-982f-28748b0aedd8">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]I kind of feel that we atheists have as much of a claim on Christmas as the Christians do, given that they hijacked it first.  :)
    Posted by Celles[/QUOTE]

    Eh, whatever. Every religion hijacks stuff from every other religion. Christianity takes a lot of stuff from Roman paganism, but where did the Romans get it? And why is there a Temple of Isis in Pompeii? It's all fluid.

    I'm kind of in the weird position of no longer believing in religion, but having no problem with my Catholic upbringing and being all about defending the church even though I'm not a member anymore. It's confusing. :)
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  • CellesCelles member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited November 2010
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:782d2b8b-7356-4c05-9a5f-c3ca69b5e4bf">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Religion in schools question :  I'm kind of in the weird position of no longer believing in religion, but having no problem with my Catholic upbringing and being all about defending the church even though I'm not a member anymore. It's confusing. :)
    Posted by sarah0725[/QUOTE]

    Ha.  I'm marrying the male version of you and I agree -- it's confusing as hell.  :)

    eta - the smiley face.  It seemed appropriate.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:d6319082-3f5e-4866-8fe4-ab279af43649">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Religion in schools question : Ha.  I'm marrying the male version of you and I agree -- it's confusing as hell.  :) eta - the smiley face.  It seemed appropriate.
    Posted by Celles[/QUOTE]

    That's funny. Jef and I could probably have some interesting discussions.

    For me, I think it's all the tremendous culture that came out of church patronage. You can't beat the Catholics on art and music.

    Also, it seems that it is human instinct for most people to believe in something, or to have some reason for the world. I'm not going to fault that.
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  • As a public school teacher I totally agree with Mrs. B.  I think its highly inappropriate, if this happened to my child I would absolutely say something.  But please don't go straight to the principal.  I would take it up with the teacher first and see what she says.  I am on the fence whether the principal should be notified at all. 

    I don't think the Native Americans in the first Thanksgiving were thanking the lord.  If they were even there at all, that could be faked in the history books too.  I don't think students in school need to thank the lord to hold the spirirt of Thanksgiving.  They should be able to thank whomever they see fit or no one particular at all. 

    We say under God in the pledge but students are not required to say the pledge, we just ask they sit quietly if they so choose.  It still wierds me out to say the pledge every day. 

  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:782d2b8b-7356-4c05-9a5f-c3ca69b5e4bf">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Religion in schools question : Eh, whatever. Every religion hijacks stuff from every other religion. Christianity takes a lot of stuff from Roman paganism, but where did the Romans get it? And why is there a Temple of Isis in Pompeii? It's all fluid. I'm kind of in the weird position of no longer believing in religion, but having no problem with my Catholic upbringing and being all about defending the church even though I'm not a member anymore. It's confusing. :)
    Posted by sarah0725[/QUOTE]

    That does sound confusing Sarah. I was raised Catholic, but was never confirmed and don't go to church. My dad's a homosexual, so I have a hard time following a religion that condemns him to hell.

    Lucas and I have had discussions and we've come to the conclusion that we're a lot like the founding fathers, Deists. We believe something set everything in motion, but then humans/animals were left to their own devices. What happens after death? I'm still on the fence about this.
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  • I think it's inappropriate.  I grew up in a heavily Baptist community, and to an extent, your "coolness quotient" was determined by which youth group you attended.  (Yes, seriously.)  If a child doesn't want to thank the lord for anything, whether they believe or not, they shouldn't have to.  Refusing to, or asking to change the song to the teacher would be a great way to ostracize yourself from your peers.  Heck, even parents calling to complain, depending on how the teacher handles it, can cause issues for kids in small communities with a significant religious majority.


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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:64bf8a46-dc8e-4c5a-8952-8cf222e897ba">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]Heh.  Sorry, Celles.  I keep thinking about well, what exactly is Thanksgiving?  <strong>To whom are we giving thanks, if not to god, for our abundance and the good things in our lives?</strong>  We definitely fudge that issue with our kids - we give thanks to our friends for being good friends, to our families for loving us,etc., etc.  But I realize that is not really in the tradition of the holiday - it's just our atheist spin on things. 
    Posted by ohwhynot[/QUOTE]
    The American Indians, who supposedly kept the pilgrims from starving. :)


    To me, the holiday itself has nothing to do with the Lord and every thing to do with people. The things I'm thankful for, like my friends and family, I give<em> them</em> the credit for being good people and thank them. The things I have, like my health, I think of my doctor who understands I don't have insurance. I mean, a person can thank the Lord, but it doesn't have to be that way. The holiday itself, at least to me, has always been secular. It never occured to me that it wasn't.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:32cec7f2-6f61-4dce-8325-ad46b3316169">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Religion in schools question : The American Indians, who supposedly kept the pilgrims from starving. :) To me, the holiday itself has nothing to do with the Lord and every thing to do with people. The things I'm thankful for, like my friends and family, I give them the credit for being good people and thank them. The things I have, like my health, I think of my doctor who understands I don't have insurance. I mean, a person can thank the Lord, but it doesn't have to be that way. The holiday itself, at least to me, has always been secular. It never occured to me that it wasn't.
    Posted by Simply Fated[/QUOTE]

    And on my end, although Thanksgiving isn't traditionally a religious holiday, my church always had mass that day, and my mom always took us, and we sang "We Gather Together" and "Now Thank We All Our God".

    I kind of think there's an implied Christian god being thanked at Thanksgiving.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:6c47a65b-8537-4281-b964-883c9bb821ff">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]I grew up in a heavily Baptist community, and to an extent, your "coolness quotient" was determined by which youth group you attended.  (Yes, seriously.)
    Posted by squirrly[/QUOTE]

    Yes. I was never destined to be part of the "in crowd" because I never went to Young Life.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:2e4c00cc-5a76-4072-a90c-9b5919bcd14c">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Religion in schools question : And on my end, although Thanksgiving isn't traditionally a religious holiday, my church always had mass that day, and my mom always took us, and we sang "We Gather Together" and "Now Thank We All Our God". I kind of think there's an implied Christian god being thanked at Thanksgiving.
    Posted by sarah0725[/QUOTE]
    Traditionally it was an religious holiday. Historically, there was a religious fast leading up to the feast. When Lincoln made the holiday an official national holiday, he himself said that the holiday was meant to thank G-d.

    I was raised Jewish and Thanksgiving is not one of my religious holidays, therefore it was meant for us to be a secular holiday. It's pretty much an excuse for family to gather. Some Jews also use it as a holiday to celebrate immigration into the country and the hardships, which I think is really cool.
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  • Even though I grew up in a conservative Christian family, we don't consider Tgiving as a religious holiday.  Easter's a religious holiday but I've never thought about Tgiving being religious.  We pray before every evening meal anyway so we don't really do anything differently for Tgiving.  It's more of an American tradition for us.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_religion-schools-question?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:07f7b8e7-4e80-4442-bdd7-df8e3ddefc01Post:df7e5e33-4255-4103-901d-8c990af79a20">Re: Religion in schools question</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Religion in schools question : Traditionally it was an religious holiday. Historically, there was a religious fast leading up to the feast. When Lincoln made the holiday an official national holiday, he himself said that the holiday was meant to thank G-d. I was raised Jewish and Thanksgiving is not one of my religious holidays, therefore it was meant for us to be a secular holiday. It's pretty much an excuse for family to gather. Some Jews also use it as a holiday to celebrate immigration into the country and the hardships, which I think is really cool.
    Posted by Simply Fated[/QUOTE]

    Yeah, I just reread what I said and realized it came out kind of garbled. What I was getting at is that even though we may interpret it in different ways individually, it does have a religious basis. I think even the concept of the word "thanksgiving" is religious.

    But yeah, nowadays we can be thankful in whatever way we want. In my case, due to my warped view of the whole thing, I'll be thankful in ways that are similar to what you mentioned, but I'll probably go around all day singing the hymns I mentioned above, because I always get them in my head on Thanksgiving.
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