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Religion in Public schools

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bluegray
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« on: September 22, 2009, 11:21:24 AM »

via http://twitter.com/skepticsa
http://www.skeptic.co.za/content/view/215/1/
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Jane of the Jungle
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2009, 12:36:38 PM »

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The National Policy on Religion in Education encompasses the following broad principles, and any school and principal or teacher ignoring or contravening these regulations, are guilty of contravening the National Education Act.

•A public (state) school must be secular and may not pursue and force down a religious ethos;

•A school may not practise the religious apartheid of our past but should rather advance integration of the community at large;

•Reading from the Bible (or any other religious holy book) and praying in general class-time is illegal;

•Sectarian teaching of a specific religion is illegal and a majority adherence of one religion may not lead to the exclusion of other religions or a secular world view.

AS IF this is happening in South Africa, it would be interesting to know how many schools keeps by this policy?

Quote
Recently a group of parents at Baysville Spesiale Skool in East London complained to me as director of Sceptic South Africa that regular “altar calls” are held every Friday morning. It is virtually compulsory for children to attend these and Monday and Friday gatherings in the school hall where Christian evangelism is preached to them. Children refusing to attend, are naturally seen as outcasts and treated as such.

This is exactly what I am also scared of, my kid being treated like an outcast! How in hell can a so called "christian" teachers allow this in a school!!! They teach kids to be kind to each other, but allow this Huh?

Quote
Statistics show that atheists are a dying breed

"But I wouldn't want to live in a world without atheists – if I was Julian Baggini I’d be trying to get Guardian readers to breed more to ensure the world in 50 year’s time isn’t populated entirely by religious crackpots of various shades."

So what are we waiting for  Grin (Government subsidies of 180 bucks p/m per kid, won't do it for me though:Smiley)
« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 12:54:50 PM by Jane of the Jungle » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2009, 13:37:23 PM »

It gets worse.

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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2009, 13:43:12 PM »

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•Reading from the Bible (or any other religious holy book) and praying in general class-time is illegal;
AS IF this is happening in South Africa, it would be interesting to know how many schools keeps by this policy?
Note that it says "in general class-time", so they can proselytise as much as they like in school assembly or at any time outside class-time.  I don't think they can make it compulsory to attnd, though.
Quote
This is exactly what I am also scared of, my kid being treated like an outcast! How in hell can a so called "christian" teachers allow this in a school!!! They teach kids to be kind to each other, but allow this Huh?
You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that "Christian" is a synonym for "kind", "loving", "tolerant" and so on.  History shows us that it isn't.  the Christian teachers will do their utmost to convert your children, thus expanding their power-base.

Quote
Statistics show that atheists are a dying breed

"But I wouldn't want to live in a world without atheists – if I was Julian Baggini I’d be trying to get Guardian readers to breed more to ensure the world in 50 year’s time isn’t populated entirely by religious crackpots of various shades."

I don't know whose statistics these are; some I have seen show the opposite.  There is a comprehensive study done in the USA every four years (I forget what it is called) which showed that the number of people unaffiliated with any religion has increased quite markedly in the last decade (I think the figure quoted was 15%, but I could be misremembering).

Unfortunately the situation is that if you want your child to enjoy a purely secular education you must either pay stiff fees at a secular private school (like Crawford) or educate your child at home.

On a personal note, I was sent to a church-sponsored religious boot camp in lieu of high school, and even that combined with devout god-bothering parents didn't prevent me from becoming an atheist at age 15, so don't despair just because the school indulges in a little superstition.  At least you can discuss it with your child and gently point out the contradictions inherent in any religious belief system.
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Jane of the Jungle
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2009, 14:19:31 PM »

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Note that it says "in general class-time", so they can proselytise as much as they like in school assembly or at any time outside class-time.  I don't think they can make it compulsory to attnd, though.

Your absolutely right!  

Quote
You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that "Christian" is a synonym for "kind", "loving", "tolerant" and so on.  

No I don't, if only! In their twisted world they do believe it and this hypocrisy I have witnessed myself many times!  

Quote
I don't know whose statistics these are; some I have seen show the opposite.  There is a comprehensive study done in the USA every four years (I forget what it is called) which showed that the number of people unaffiliated with any religion has increased quite markedly in the last decade (I think the figure quoted was 15%, but I could be misremembering).
In this particular article they didn't insinuate Atheist to decrease and convert to religion again, but the fact that
theist breed like rabbits and Atheists mostly don't even substitute themselves as adults. Thus the religion - Atheist ratio
might not change!  I think, our hope lies in young people de-converting!
« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 14:33:43 PM by Jane of the Jungle » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2009, 14:22:06 PM »

Religion in schools is something that really annoys me. If people want to indoctrinate their kids with silly fantasies, it should be done at home or in the church of their choice and kept out of public schools. ( Indoctrinating children into one's religion is something I'm also against, but that's a topic for another thread)

The problem is that there is no subject in the curriculum that teaches kids critical thinking from an early age, and that's what needs to be introduced to help kids when they're confronted with creationist nonsense like the one in the link Mefiante pointed out. Also, children need to be encouraged to speak openly about their views, this is one thing I drummed into my kids when they were at school. If they disagreed with a teacher's point, they should say so and be able to back up their arguments.

I think parents should take a stand against religion in schools, but I fear too many people prefer to keep quiet and not cause a stir; we South Africans are very complacent when it come to things like this.

With reference to home schooling....
I home schooled my kids for one year - it was a moment of insanity on my part - my son did grade one at home and my daughter did grade 9. I was mortified to discover that all home schooling is god based, but I had to register with one of these god soaked home schooling institutions if I didn't want to be jailed, so I did. I just left out all references to god and went ahead with the year.
It was difficult because of the all the subjects I had to help them with and the amount of time I had to dedicate to it, but the rewards outweighed that. We did some excellent field trips and my kids learned how to work and study on their own. My daughter went back to a regular high school to complete her matric and my son went to do the rest of his schooling from grade two onwards.
I'm glad to say I regained some of my sanity when they went back to regular schools. Grin
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2009, 14:04:29 PM »

Quote from: stOnes
Note that it says "in general class-time", so they can proselytise as much as they like in school assembly or at any time outside class-time.  I don't think they can make it compulsory to attnd, though.

Well, for me it was. As was bible study, I finished matric 10y ago, which was very much under the current "regime". Every monday morning the head master made a laughable attempt at coming up with a worthwhile "sermon"/"thought". These were so bad, even in my teetering between agnosticism and christianity, they were still laughable. On one of these mornings he even compared a visiting "dominee" to being an equal of Christ himself. He was just THAT bad at it.

On another occasion, the pupils were all (compulsary, of course) hauled into the hall to "hear a cool band play". I was kinda excited until I realized the band name looks very "gospely". Oh dear, here we go... Much hand waving and praising went on before the torture was over. There were other things too, visiting young people doing their "gospel" years, coming to preach to us in class, attempts at peer pressured to join the "CSV" or whatever it's called in english...)

My point: Those people opened my eyes more to the idiocy of some christian beliefs than anything else. It is because of witnessing things like this that I started abandoning faith, and questioning it more closely. Up until then I had thought of myself and those around me as "intelligent christians", you know, that point where it all kinda makes sense in a fuzzy general sort of way.... I believed in science, I believed in evolution, but I still believed (or should we say, rationalized that) these could be reconciled. That opinion was rapidly changing at that time.

I'm guessing should they have made these things optional, the hall wouldn't have been 1/2 full in the morning. The kids, religious or otherwise, were just not that interested in it all. "What's that, a free pass not to sit on my legs till they're completely starved of oxygen, while the headmaster mumbles on about some awesomely wonderful allegory? HELL YEAH!"
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2009, 13:25:33 PM »

Link to an interview with Stellenbosch parent Hans Pietersen as broadcasted on RSG last night:

http://www.rsg.co.za/programme_klank_soek.asp?id=173

Mintaka
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2009, 17:53:02 PM »

Maybe one way of getting the point across is to pose the question whether churches and their congregants would accept a series of introductory classes given by appropriately qualified professionals to such things as geology, cosmogony, biological evolution, epistemology, ontology, etc., as part and parcel of their regular Sunday services to everyman.  If the churches reject the suggestion, it should then be pointed out that their insistence on having religious instruction as a (compulsory) subject at schools is, at the very least, profoundly and self-righteously hypocritical.

'Luthon64
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2009, 20:05:59 PM »

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it should then be pointed out that their insistence on having religious instruction as a (compulsory) subject at schools is, at the very least, profoundly and self-righteously hypocritical.

Well, listening to that podcast linked, I doubt it'd work very well. One or two of the callers portrayed the kind of ignorance you're up against here... "Well, we all KNOW what the bible says it right, so it must be a subject in school, so children can know the TRUTH"  Undecided
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2009, 23:13:55 PM »

No doubt that such will be the reaction from many quarters but don’t you think it would present an opportunity to put the veracity of the [select appropriate “holy” book] more directly into public scrutiny?

The faithful will in any case believe whatever they believe, irrespective of how powerful an argument one presents them with.  The whole point of the exercise would be a bit more subtle, namely to cast increasing doubt on the implicit assumption that religion is somehow exempt from more usual standards of proof and also that it somehow deserves a host of special favours.  I think that once a message of this sort – viz. that religious dogma isn’t unassailable – begins to be spread, a very large part of the edifice will have been quite seriously undermined.

'Luthon64
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2009, 23:33:51 PM »

Absolutely. I'm glad this is becoming a hot topic. The hotter the better.

I'm simply saying that holding logic up to a lot of these people isn't going to phase them one bit.

Here's an angle I've long held as a basic counter argument against religious indoctrination, for a secular state, that I believe even a religious person has to take seriously....

The christians themselves were once subject to these things. They were persecuted by the Romans and many were executed for simply owning a bible, or spreading non-roman religion, including the people claiming to be the son(s) of god. Another example is the killing of all jewish boys in an attempt to prevent the "jewish king" (Jesus) from rising to power. (All history according to the bible) Another would be the holocaust, and so forth. In those times, it would've been the religious saying "We want freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom to raise our children as we see fit, we don't need the state to dictate to us our beliefs", and so forth. These are principles many christians have died for over thousands of years.

Therefore for a christian to promote these things, is in itself a justification for someone else to do the same again at some future point in time, to them. It is justifying the exact same behaviour in the past by those who wished to oppress them.

But, unfortunately, even such an argument will simply be dismissed by a lot of people as "Well, we're right, they're wrong". And that makes me sad.  Cry
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2009, 17:48:35 PM »

Watch Fokus on SABC2 at 18:30 tonight. Freek Robinson looks at religion in schools.

Mintaka
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« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2009, 19:20:31 PM »

The christians themselves were once subject to these things. They were persecuted by the Romans and many were executed for simply owning a bible, or spreading non-roman religion, including the people claiming to be the son(s) of god.

Is this not human nature? Pedophiles were often abused as children, bullies were bullied and the oppressed often became the oppressor (Zanu-PF in Zim)
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« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2009, 22:18:04 PM »

Watch Fokus on SABC2 at 18:30 tonight. Freek Robinson looks at religion in schools.
Oh, it was completely dreadful, a travesty and a mere shadow of what should have come out!  The central question about religious precepts’ validity or value wasn’t even touched on.  Instead, we were treated to a facile Ping-Pong match of “the law says this” and “the constitution says that” and “school governing bodies must have their say.”

But here’s a thought:  Suppose a school’s governing body decides, based on the fact that most of its pupils’ parents happen to follow those teachings, to institute formal instruction of Anton LaVey’s Satanism (which isn’t anywhere as bad as it sounds).  Would there not be a widespread and clamorous outcry?  Or suppose a school decides to teach astrology not as a historical curio, but as a perfectly valid and useful life skill simply because many children’s parents believe in it.  Must we bow to those whims also?  Where exactly does it end?

No, it was total crap and this farce underscored – once again – how unconsciously pervasive the idea is that religion automatically deserves special favours.

We’re all in trouble.

'Luthon64
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« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2009, 11:37:20 AM »


The problem is that there is no subject in the curriculum that teaches kids critical thinking from an early age, and that's what needs to be introduced to help kids when they're confronted with creationist nonsense like the one in the link Mefiante pointed out. Also, children need to be encouraged to speak openly about their views, this is one thing I drummed into my kids when they were at school. If they disagreed with a teacher's point, they should say so and be able to back up their arguments.

Did the same with my kids, and its paying off now in their teenage years.  My eldest is the bane of many a teachers day, he questions constantly and does not hesitate to do his own research in order to question a teacher's answer.

Arm your kids with knowledge, my boys were exposed to the religious nonsense as youngsters, I sent them to sunday school specifically to expose them to religion, and today they are armed with knowledge which was critically analysed and explained to them. 

My eldest was excused (banned?) from all religious study classes and groups due to his constant challenges. (His school attempted to incorporate all religions by inviting speakers from different sects to come speak to the kids on a weekly basis).  His disruptions encouraged his friends to come up with "clever" challenges themselves and the class eventually erupted into chaos as the religious "leaders" couldnt answer pertinent questions. 

Best we can do is to arm our children with the knowledge they require to expose religious drivel for what it is.
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2010, 12:00:05 PM »

(My first post as a newbie on this Forum).

This is an issue that I have battled with for a long time with my son's schools.  Uphill struggle, but so very worth it.  I regularly berate both head teachers for their appalling bias towards christianity (and specific brands of such) which is disgusting in a multi-ethnic school.  I fought from the inside for some time (joining, and eventually being chairman of the parent committees and the boards of governors).  My first action in both was to stop the custom of having a (very christian based) prayer to start every meeting.  This, with muslims, jews, and myself as the token atheist in attendance.  I fear, now I have left, that the custom will have reverted...

Both my sons have come home at different times quite upset after being quizzed by their teachers over which church they attend (I actually encourage both my sons to go with their friends to different churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc., but with open minds...the eldest decided to stop, when he found out that his 'friends' were getting paid for his attendance!). 

But I think that it is an issue that all parents need to make a noise about, and make a stand, even as I found out, it can make you very unpopular.  (I happen to be a wheelchair user, and one parent decided to point out - for my own benefit, clearly - that I am in a wheelchair because I have sinned against her god...hmm nice god she has there...my response was meant just as helpfully when I hoped that she never became disabled).
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2010, 13:26:46 PM »

Welcome Dissol! Smiley

Quote
one parent decided to point out - for my own benefit, clearly - that I am in a wheelchair because I have sinned against her god

Shocking and heart breaking that so many children are still exposed to parents who operate with this brand of medieval reasoning. Once infected with a smidgen-of-'ligion the victim routinely utters this sort of crap. Theistic brain circuitry knows no limits.

I applaud your brave efforts.

Mintaka
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« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2010, 19:26:18 PM »

I applaud your brave efforts.
Unreservedly seconded, and welcome to a small club.

'Luthon64
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Jane of the Jungle
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2010, 06:50:32 AM »

A warm welcome to you Dissol Smiley

I live in a “Boere” community and can not dare to mention anything.  Have to protect my kid for 2 more years but admire you taking a stand against the masses!

Quote
(I happen to be a wheelchair user, and one parent decided to point out - for my own benefit, clearly - that I am in a wheelchair because I have sinned against her god...hmm nice god she has there...my response was meant just as helpfully when I hoped that she never became disabled).
WTF!!

I wish some people would actually try to use their brain before outer such crap.  
Wonder what their explanation for many Theists being disabled would be!

Ooooh Oh ….I forgot, that’s gawd’s ways to make people’s religion stronger!  No, No don’t get high hopes, you’ll never walk again, he just want to show you who’s da boss  Roll Eyes or, or somthing like that!  Stupidity!!!
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2010, 07:29:58 AM »

Welcome to the forum Dissol

Good on you for having the courage to do something that many of us would not have done.

Quote from: Dissol
I happen to be a wheelchair user, and one parent decided to point out - for my own benefit, clearly - that I am in a wheelchair because I have sinned against her god...hmm nice god she has there...my response was meant just as helpfully when I hoped that she never became disabled

Proof that stupidity is limitless. Words fail me. Sad
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2010, 10:04:17 AM »

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that I am in a wheelchair because I have sinned against her god...

Hmm, if, according to the bible, we are all burdened with sin. (Original if you're catholic)

Then wouldn't the entire world be disabled? Struck by horrible earthquakes? Smited (smitten?) repeatedly?

Oh no wait, Jesus died for your sins.... but then, why did he not absolve everyone?

Let's just say, well handled, I wouldn't have been so courteous.

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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2010, 10:38:47 AM »

I happen to be a wheelchair user, and one parent decided to point out - for my own benefit, clearly - that I am in a wheelchair because I have sinned against her god...
What a hag. I know I don't want to be in any sort of heaven with people like her!

And hi and welcome to you, sir Wink
(Original if you're catholic)
Protestant too as far as I recall. What a horrible and horribly stupid concept.
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2010, 09:23:05 AM »

Thank you all for the warm welcomes!  I am originally from Scotland, but now living in the heart of Boere country, but being a Scot I tend to speak my mind, and sod the consequences.  Yes, it can, and does make me unpopular at times!

But (as I am sure anyone with a disability can tell you) I often get the "god is punishing you" line.  I also attract the woo sellers, and keep getting approached by all sorts of quacks with a certain cure for my condition.  If there is even a whiff of them trying to make money out of their scheme, then I don't hold back (think Billy Connelly, on a bad day).  If there is no financial reward, then I usually take the trouble to try to explain where there logic breaks down.  Recently, I had a (very attractive) young lady approach me, saying that she had been told by her god to come and cure me.  Now, being a heterosexual male, I quite enjoyed having a good looking lady holding my legs for a minute or two (even if I could not feel it).  I did tell her that I was certain that what she was doing was a waste of her time, and it is all nonsense.  I failed to point out that my legs are fine, no problem at all...the problem is actually in my spinal cord (is it too much to expect spiritual entities to have cursory knowledge of human biology??).  She then informed me that I would be walking again within 24 hrs.  (At that stage I did warn her that making comments like that could be really quite upsetting for some gullible people, but I am not sure it penetrated...).  Anyway, we bumped into one another some weeks later, and she seemed really shocked that I was still not walking...
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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2010, 10:15:37 AM »

And thank you for gracing us with your presence.  Grin

Quote
(think Billy Connelly, on a bad day)

HAHAHAHA! I can picture that, not pretty!

Quote
Anyway, we bumped into one another some weeks later, and she seemed really shocked that I was still not walking...

I know someone who is getting on in years. His knees are giving in and he has excruciating pain when walking. The last couple of years he's taken to not walking much and using a cane at all times. He is also quite religious.

So one day while out he gets approached by a "faith healer visiting SA", obviously being spotted because of his cane. The guy swoops right in, and there's also lots of praying and laying-of-hands, etc. In the end the guy tells him "to have faith, and abandon the cane" for he is "cured". The old man bought every word of it, and now walks around without the cane. I'm sure he's in endless pain (from the way he walks it's obvious), but he refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. This makes me deeply sad. He must be doing so much damage to the little cartilage that he has left...
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