Annotated Bibliography-Prof2020

 

Adherents.com. (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.adherents.com/
Background: This page gives information on the number and kinds of religions around the world
How I Used It: I used it as a source for naming how many recognized religions exist

MailOnline, R. O. (2015, December 22). Religion has been causing conflicts for more than 2,000 years: Rather than binding ancient societies together, belief systems may have torn them apart in Mesoamerica. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3370189/Religion-causing-conflicts-2-000-years-binding-ancient-societies-belief-systems-torn-apart-Mesoamerica.html
Background: The article offers some insight on the history of conflicts caused by religion.
How I Used It: I cited this website when specifying how long religious conflict had been prevalent in society.

Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury BaptistsThe Final Letter, as Sent. (n.d.). Retrieved December 02, 2016, from https://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html
Background: An online form of the library of congress
How I Used It: This is where I obtained a copy of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Church and used it as support when explaining the true meaning of the First Amendment.

Cain, C. (2016, May 09). Republicans Turn God Upside Down with Their Twisted Version of Religious Liberty. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cody-cain/republicans-turn-god-upsi_b_9857402.html
Background: This article in the Huffington Post is written from the point of view that republicans have warped the meaning of religious freedom to best suit their needs.
How I Used It: This article gave various examples of what the concept of religious freedom is supposed to protect and the history of religious freedom in America.

Impact of 9/11 on Muslim Americans. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.soundvision.com/article/impact-of-911-on-muslim-americans
Background: This article was written to explain how Muslim Americans were affected by the events of 9/11.
How I Used It: It gave specific statistics on the number of muslims experiencing discrimination and abuse in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and how those numbers have fluctuated.

Mission. (2016). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from https://www.tsa.gov/about/tsa-mission
Background: This website offers background on the inception and history of the TSA.
How I Used It: It explained why the TSA was created and what they’re mission is, which is to “Protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”

After 9/11: ‘You no longer have rights’ – extract. (2011, September 02). Retrieved December 03, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/02/after-9-11-muslim-arab-american-stories
Background: This article tells the stories of three Muslim Americans who faced discrimination in the wake of 9/11.
How I Used It: I explained the story of one of the people in the article to offer insight into the kind of discrimination faced by Muslim Americans across the country.

You are being redirected… (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://archive.adl.org/religion_ps_2004/religion.html
Background: The covers the topic of what pertaining to religion is permissible in the school setting.
How I Used It: It explained the difference between teaching religion and teaching about religion as well as offer examples of what practices and conversations may or may not be allowed

Why Religion Should Not Be Taught in Public Schools – Olivia Godfrey. (2013, September 23). Retrieved December 02, 2016, from http://knightlyherald.com/why-religion-should-not-be-taught-in-public-schools-olivia-godfrey/
Background: This is an article written by Olivia Godfrey on why she believes religion should not be talked about in school.
How I Used It: This gave details and insight into why people would oppose my argument and helped me to rephrase my statements in a way that would allow me to address my audience in a more effective way.

Marzano, R. J. (n.d.). Chapter 2. A Brief History of Supervision and Evaluation. Retrieved December 03, 2016, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/110019/chapters/A-Brief-History-of-Supervision-and-Evaluation.aspx
Background: This article was written on the history of how teachers were appointed and evaluated.
How I Used It: The importance of properly evaluating teachers cannot be overstated. I used it in reference to the process by which teachers are evaluated to reassure people that the question of the integrity of our teachers does not require a complex answer.

Kilman, C. (2007, Fall). One Nation, Many Gods. Retrieved November 25, 2016, from http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-32-fall-2007/feature/one-nation-many-gods
Background: The website, aptly named Teaching Tolerance, tells the story of the Modesto School District, which I heavily reference in my paper.
How I Used It: The story explained in the article is central to my argument on why making a world religions course mandatory in public schools is not only important but also possible.

Research Position Paper-Prof2020

Lennon Revisited: Imagine Religious Education

Since 1971, all over the world people have sung the lyrics of John Lennon’s song, suggesting that the absence of religion would create a world of peace. The fact is that religion is a vital part of peoples’ lives and the source of great good in society in spite of abominations by some in the name of religion, even in the United States. So rather than abolish the practice of faith we should commit as a nation to opening a dialogue that begins with mandatory education about religious differences. With that, we can imagine a world where our differences are celebrated and encouraged rather than demonized and condemned. It’s a crazy idea, isn’t it? Perhaps it is, but it’s not altogether unreasonable. Such a concept is the dream of many and people all over the world have made great progress toward making this our reality. However, the problem with differences is that they can be perceived as too different to tolerate and some reside on such far sides of the spectrum that finding middle ground can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Possibly the most controversial topic and point of difference of all time is religion. Religion is often central to the identity of a people group. A statistic on the website “Adherents.com”, the largest database of its kind, states that theologists propose that there are as many as 4,200 recognized religions across the globe. History’s record of conflicts attribute to many a disagreement of religion. According to an article in The Daily Mail written by Ryan O’Hare, religious differences have been causing conflict as far back as 700 B.C. Mesoamerica. With it’s almost as if there isn’t enough room for them to exist together peacefully.

Many believe that the only way to find peace and balance is through understanding, which may derive most successfully from education. It is becoming increasingly important to educate our young people, and even a fair amount of our old people, on controversial social topics such as religion. There are far too many misconceptions about many religious practices and beliefs which could be rectified by a basic understanding of different religions and the cultures surrounding them. It is for this reason that a course covering the most basic aspects of the world’s religions should be made a mandatory component of the public high school curriculum.

More often than not, the only formal education a student receives on the subject of religion comes if they choose to take a course covering it in a higher educational setting or if they enrolled at a private school with a religious affiliation. This is because of the concept called “the separation of church and state.” Though still relevant, the true meaning of this phrase has been distorted over time, almost like in a game of “Whisper down the lane.” To be clear, the separation of church and state defines the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, this copy of which was obtained from the online database of the Library of Congress.  It includes this excerpt:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Jefferson’s position is that the Bill of Rights prohibits the establishment of a national church, in turn, preventing the government from interfering with a person’s right to expression of religion by means of supporting one religion over others. After all, this is the reason English pilgrims came to America in the first place. Nicknamed “Separatists” because their religious practices didn’t conform to those of the Church of England, they sailed to America so that they could be free to practice their own religion without fear of persecution or discrimination. In fact, there was a time when America was likely the most accepting as well as diverse nation in terms of religion. People from all over the world fled to America seeking religious liberty. In the article “Republicans Turn God Upside Down with Their Twisted Version of Religious Liberty” for the Huffington Post, Cody Cain explains that the early colonies were populated by Dutch Calvinists, English Puritans, English Catholics, Scottish Presbyterians, French Huguenots, German and Swedish Lutherans, as well as Mennonites, Jews, and Amish from various European countries. Thomas Jefferson was adamant about supporting and maintaining the separation of church and state to ensure that each citizen felt welcomed and protected by our society, regardless of who they chose to pray to.

Over time, the phrase “separation of church and state” has been so widely used and misinterpreted that it’s lost some of its salt. The separation of church and state is also designed to protect some more general religious freedoms such as being able to practice whatever religion or even no religion at all in whatever way you see fit. The United States was founded on biblical principles, most of which serve our country well and support the values of most American citizens, regardless of their religion. However, we cannot claim to uphold our Constitution including the First Amendment while our laws refuse to respect the lifestyles guided by different religions, provided that the practice of which does not put any other liberties at risk. On the other hand, allowing our society to divide itself by religious denomination would be discrimination would breed an environment of resentment and hostility. Having legal freedoms yet being oppressed by the general societal stance on the matter isn’t true freedom.

For example, Muslims are legally permitted to practice their religion in America but after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, animosity towards Muslim Americans skyrocketed. As a statistic to support his claims in his article “Impact of 9/11 on Muslim Americans, Abdul Malik Mujahid claims that one in four Muslims either knows someone who has or have personally experienced an act of anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since 9/11.

This discrimination and negative stance towards the entire culture isn’t just affecting those on the receiving end of it. American citizens are being misinformed about the reality of the situation. This extreme instance of widespread prejudice has blinded us to the truth about the groups involved, resulting in their abuse and our ignorance. The censorship in schools on what pertaining to religion may and may not be taught can lead to misinformation on the details of situations like the September 11th attacks.This is why we need to properly educate people on different religions. Religion is incredibly controversial and a lot of the friction could most likely be reduced if more people truly understood what they were arguing about rather than making assumptions based on information with no credible sources to back it up.

To continue with the example of September 11, many of those who’ve written articles and thesis papers similar to this one also hold the belief that being properly educated on foreign cultures and religions would have better prepared American citizens to handle the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. Racism has been around since before anyone cared to take note of it and has maintained a constant presence in America. The way in which Americans of middle eastern descent were perceived changed drastically because the attacks of 9/11 were the most mortally devastating acts of terror the world had witnessed. That day set a new precedent for the future of public safety all over the globe. In just one noticeable reaction to the attacks, the United States government created the Transportation Safety Administration which rapidly put into effect a plethora of stringent rules and restrictions for the safety of passengers and goods on land, air and sea. The TSA’s own website states that their mission is to protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.

The Guardian posted excerpts from a book called “The Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustice”, edited by Alia Malek. It details the testimonies of several victims of discrimination and foul treatment in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. In 2006, Raed Jarrar, a 28-year-old architect and political advocate of Iraqi and Palestinian descent was stopped from boarding a plane because of his t-shirt. It read in Arabic and in English “We Will Not Be Silent.” The TSA officer told him that because people couldn’t read what it said that it would offend other passengers and that if Raed wanted to board the plane he would need to turn the shirt inside out or they would buy him a new one. Raed boarded the plane in grey t-shirt with “New York” printed across his chest only to find that the seat he had booked in the front of the plane had been given to another passenger while he was asked to sit in the very back of the plane near the bathroom.

This very situation and others similar to it are the reason why a formal education on religion is so crucial to the future of our nation. A main function of school is to prepare students to become productive members of society, thus equipping them to lead our country in a direction that will ensure the prosperity of our people and way of life. In order to accomplish this goal, those designing the curriculum must understand that it’s only effective when recognized as holistic, meaning that the student will never reach his or her fullest potential unless given an education comprised of components from every subject matter.

Returning to the separation of church and state and how this concept plays into the grand scheme of things, it imposes limitations on the way our public schools are allowed to address the topic of religion. To reiterate, the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In relation to an educational setting, no government institution or subsidiary can offer any kind of support to a religiously affiliated program, including schools. This includes funding an educational course promoting religion.

However, there is a window of opportunity that does not violate the Constitution or its Amendments. While preventing the teaching of religion, the constitution says nothing on the subject of teaching about religion. Yes, there is a difference. As explained in the article “Religion in the Public Schools” on the Anti-Defamation League website, to teach a religion would imply an endorsement. Teaching about a religion merely means supplying information in the interest of education in order to inform and enlighten someone on a certain topic. As long as the curriculum and instructor show no bias, it’s completely appropriate within the bounds of the Constitution. On the website “The Knightly Herald,” Olivia Godfrey claimed in her article”Why Religion Should Not Be Taught In Public Schools” that it would never work because it’s impossible to remain completely unbiased while teaching the material or that children aren’t mature enough to truly understand and think critically about the subject matter in a way that would prove to be worth the effort. The concern pertaining to the accountability of the teachers is not new but neither is the solution. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development promoted the book “Effective Supervision” by Robert J. Marzano, which clearly states that supervisor evaluations of teachers have been a regular part of that career field since the mid 1800s and will not be stopping any time soon. The evaluations would now simply include a new rubric for a different course to ensure the integrity of the course and that of the instructor guiding it just as for the rest of the general education courses.

“Teaching Tolerance” is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center and in Carrie Kilman’s article “One Nation, Many Gods” provides the testimony of the Modesto school district where, in spite of the skepticism, officials have already set this plan in motion and it’s working effectively. In 2000, the public school district of Modesto, California designed a mandatory, semester-long world religions course for 9th graders. After beginning the class with an overview of First Amendment rights and responsibilities, the class dives into six religious units, covering Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. The opposition from some parents and leader in the community was heavy and intense. Teachers feared backlash and criticism, especially if they were to make mistakes in teaching. To avoid such reactions, numerous precautions were taken and rules set in place to ensure success: Teachers are not allowed at anytime to reveal their religious affiliation to avoid confusion with teachers imposing their own bias or beliefs on students. The curriculum is highly structured and leaves nearly no room for improvisation. Each class in the district receives the same books, lesson plans, notes, and other learning materials to keep everyone on the same page. Outside speakers are not permitted and each religion receives the same amount of class time. One of the few ways teachers are permitted to deviate from the lesson plan is whether or not they choose to cover the chapter in the the textbook on atheism. Some do and some don’t but that is up to the discretion of each teacher.

To ensure the legitimacy and adequacy of the course, the teacher-led committee that created Modesto’s curriculum worked closely with religious leaders in the local community during the course’s development. After deciding upon which religions would be included in the curriculum, the committee divided into teams to research each faith. They toured houses of worship in several different faiths and sought guidance from religious leaders of each faith and asked them to review the textbook they planned to use in the course. “There are an equal number of pages given to each religion,” a committee member said. “We knew they would count.”

To further document the progress and eventual outcome of the project, researchers from the First Amendment Center closely followed the course and all of its participants. In addition, the researchers interviewed the students immediately before, during, immediately after and six months after the course had ended to better understand the mindset of the course’s participants and how the program may have altered them. Specifically, they wanted to know if the diversity of the course had any impact on the students’ religious tolerance. “We’ve never really known what effect it would have if we taught more about different religions in public schools,” director of the Arlington, Va.-based First Amendment Center said. “We’ve always said it was a good idea – but in terms of empirical evidence, what it does for our kids, this study is the first indication of what it might do.”

Time and time again, students were found to have become more open minded and willing to defend the religious rights of others. Students themselves said they felt the course had broadened their views and empowered them against faith-based bullying. “I didn’t know anything about any religion other than mine,” said Kristin Busby, now a senior. “By the end [of the semester], we were all much more accepting toward one another. You realize that we’re all not that different after all. We all have these necessities, and these religions provide for those necessities, just in different ways.”

Perhaps the greatest fear of parents was that their children’s perception and opinions on religion, specifically the ones they were raised in would become distorted. They were concerned their children would become confused and start to have doubts about their own faith. However, contrary to the fears of parents and expectations of researchers, this increase in religious tolerance was not accompanied by any change in the students’ personal religious convictions and opinions. “My mom and dad were biased against this course,” said 9th-grader Richard Dysart. “They were afraid I’d convert and get confused about what my family believes. But if you’re part of a culture, you won’t switch just by learning about how other people live.”

The first year of the new curriculum was seen as a great success by researchers, supervisors and the community alike. Modesto was eager to continue with the curriculum into the 2001-2002 school year. Then 9/11 happened. The teachers cited the 30 hours of training required to teach the course as the guide to helping them navigate the difficult questions and conversations that arose that year. They made sure to handle the in-class discussions carefully and made a clear distinction between Islam as a religion and the people involved in the terror attacks. Across the nation, reports of harassment of Muslim students at school escalated quickly after 9/11. In Modesto, not a single instance of anti-Muslim harassment was reported in the 2001-2002 school year.

The value of these programs is in how knowledge empowers individuals to understand and communicate with each other in spite of differences. It prepares us to navigate the most challenging and chaotic circumstances. Mandating education about religion is not only a worthy investment but a moral obligation to ensure a world in which our differences are celebrated and encouraged for the good of all. If we fail to make the necessary efforts then whatever negative side effects we experience, there is no one to blame for them but ourselves.

Works Cited

  1. Adherents.com. (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.adherents.com/
  2. MailOnline, R. O. (2015, December 22). Religion has been causing conflicts for more than 2,000 years: Rather than binding ancient societies together, belief systems may have torn them apart in Mesoamerica. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3370189/Religion-causing-conflicts-2-000-years-binding-ancient-societies-belief-systems-torn-apart-Mesoamerica.html
  3. Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury BaptistsThe Final Letter, as Sent. (n.d.). Retrieved December 02, 2016, from https://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html
  4. Cain, C. (2016, May 09). Republicans Turn God Upside Down with Their Twisted Version of Religious Liberty. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cody-cain/republicans-turn-god-upsi_b_9857402.html
  5. Impact of 9/11 on Muslim Americans. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.soundvision.com/article/impact-of-911-on-muslim-americans
  6. Mission. (2016). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from https://www.tsa.gov/about/tsa-mission
  7. After 9/11: ‘You no longer have rights’ – extract. (2011, September 02). Retrieved December 03, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/02/after-9-11-muslim-arab-american-stories
  8. You are being redirected… (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://archive.adl.org/religion_ps_2004/religion.html
  9. Why Religion Should Not Be Taught in Public Schools – Olivia Godfrey. (2013, September 23). Retrieved December 02, 2016, from http://knightlyherald.com/why-religion-should-not-be-taught-in-public-schools-olivia-godfrey/
  10. Marzano, R. J. (n.d.). Chapter 2. A Brief History of Supervision and Evaluation. Retrieved December 03, 2016, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/110019/chapters/A-Brief-History-of-Supervision-and-Evaluation.aspx
  11. Kilman, C. (2007, Fall). One Nation, Many Gods. Retrieved November 25, 2016, from http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-32-fall-2007/feature/one-nation-many-gods

Definition Rewrite-Prof2020

The separation of church and state is a concept that has been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion more times than it’s possible to keep track of. It defines the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It includes this excerpt:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” [1]

He’s explaining that the Bill of Rights impedes the establishment of a national church, in turn, preventing the government from interfering with a person’s right to expression of religion by means of supporting one religion over others. After all, this is the reason English pilgrims came to America in the first place. Nicknamed separatists because their religious practices didn’t conform to those of the Church of England, they sailed to America so that they could be free to practice their own religion without fear of persecution or discrimination. In fact, there was a time when America was likely the most accepting as well as diverse nation in terms of religion. People from all over the world fled to America seeking religious liberty. The early colonies were populated by Dutch Calvinists, English Puritans, English Catholics, Scottish Presbyterians, French Huguenots, German and Swedish Lutherans, as well as Mennonites, Jews, and Amish from various European countries. Thomas Jefferson was adamant about supporting and maintaining the separation of church and state to ensure that each citizen felt welcome and protected by our society, regardless of who they chose to pray to.

Over time, the phrase has been so widely used and interpreted that it’s lost some of its salt. The separation of church and state is also tied to more broad religious freedoms such as being able to practice whatever religion you choose in the way you see fit. The United States was founded on biblical principles, most of which serve our country well and support the values of most American citizens, christian or not. However, we cannot claim to be upholding the values of the First Amendment while our laws still solely reflect the values of one religion.

In addition, having legal freedoms yet being oppressed by the general societal stance isn’t true freedom. For example, muslims are legally permitted to practice their religion in America as they see fit but after the Twin Tower attacks on 9/11, animosity towards Muslim Americans has skyrocketed. One in four Muslims either knows someone who has or have personally experienced an act of anti-muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since 9/11.

American citizens are being misinformed about the reality of the situation. This extreme instance of widespread prejudice has blinded us to the truth about the groups involved, resulting in their abuse and our ignorance. Because of the censorship in schools on what pertaining to religion can and can’t be taught, a lot of the details we learn about the 9/11 attacks comes from outside and often biased sources and so forms our own opinions on what actually happened. This is the reason we need to properly educate people on as many religions as possible. Religion is incredibly controversial and a lot of the friction could most likely be reduced if more people truly understood what they were arguing about.

This education needs to start early, in our middle and elementary schools. Far too often, children grow up with convictions they adopted from their parents. Their beliefs aren’t even their own but if they heard it from their parents it has to be right..right? Sadly, that’s not always true but no one has the right to tell them that.

This is why it’s so important to foster an environment conducive to their progress in making these discoveries and decisions for themselves. We have complete control over how we view the world but depending on the lens we use, what filters through will be vastly different. By properly educating our citizens about different religions and cultural practices, we’re giving them a better opportunity to make informed decisions about how they interact with others.

While I truly believe in this concept, there are far too many rigid restrictions for this to flow smoothly. When the separation of church and state policy was adopted by the United States, it prevented one problems but started another. With the way the policy is currently being enforced, teaching students in public schools about religious practices becomes very difficult because the government can’t be seen throwing support behind a religious movement. This also prohibits the government from providing any funding or support to a private school, especially those with a religious affiliation.

However, there is a loophole. Separation of church and state prevents government funded schools from teaching religion so in 2000, the public school district in Modesto, California began teaching about religion. The World Religions program is heavily regulated and monitored. Each class receives the same textbooks, study guides, visual aids, and lesson plan as every other class in the district. As long as the instructors aren’t giving more attention or support to one religion over others, the plan works and has worked brilliantly.

A group of researchers from the First Amendment Center has been following the program since its inception. The team admitted they were unsure of what their investigation would conclude. Students enrolled in the program were interviewed before, during and immediately after the course ended and then again six months later. They found that the student body involved became far more tolerant of other religions and cultural practices and even more likely to stand up for them and protect the religious rights of others. Students themselves said that the course had broadened their views and prepared them to fight back against faith based bullying. [2]

Perhaps the biggest concern of parents in the district is that it would weaken the faith of children who were raised with a religious background. Contrary to expectations, this increased tolerance resulted in no change in the faiths of students. Students who entered the program with religious convictions ended the course with the same convictions. [2]

With religion and religious beliefs being such a controversial topic, particularly in America, we need to take great strides as individuals and as a nation to mold our country and communities into those that cultivate and reflect the diversity growing within them. Diversity should not divide us. It should better prepare us to face controversy and handle it fairly and with an open mind.

Citations

  1. “Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury BaptistsThe Final Letter, as Sent.” Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists (June 1998). N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
  2. Kilman, Carrie. “One Nation, Many Gods.” Teaching Tolerance. N.p., 2007. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

Rebuttal Rewrite-Prof2020

Difficult But Not Impossible

The concept of teaching about religion rather than teaching religion really is great in theory. However, there are a few leaks in the boat that need to be sealed before it can set sail. For this plan to work, the school district will need to ensure that each and every teacher has been properly trained to teach this rigidly strict curriculum in an entirely unbiased and neutral manner. This means reaching a certain standard in the and passing and some kind of evaluation in relation to the mandatory 30-hours of training required to be certified to teach the world religions course. Furthermore, we have to prepare for the possibility that teachers would disregard their training and take advantage of their position of influence in the classroom to sway students’ opinions in one direction or another.

This is particularly sensitive because the most widely accepted religions curriculum in practice in the United States is designed to be taught in the 9th grade. Children are frequently compared to sponges because they are constantly and consistently absorbing every piece of information their senses perceive. Especially at this stage in a child’s life when they are beginning to form their own beliefs and opinions, it’s crucial that they be armed with the proper information and understanding to make informed decisions on what ideals and convictions will guide their lifestyles. This is why finding teachers and supervisors who are dedicated to being objective in this matter is crucial to the success of these programs.

The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis runs a blog titled “Religion & Politics.” In January of 2014, Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote this in her article “The Dangers of Religious Instruction in Public Schools”:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is continually contacted by students and parents who encounter teachers and principals who view their captive audience of students as a ripe mission field for recruitment. We handle more than 2,000 complaints a year by members of the public concerned about violations of the separation between church and state, and the vast majority of these concern violations in our public schools.

Finding teachers dedicated to teaching students in an ethical manor is becoming increasingly important as well as difficult because too many teachers fail to see or recognize the dire importance of this situation. I’m in no way saying that every teacher is determined to brainwash their students into believing a certain way. However, it’s exceptionally difficult to pick out the bad from the good. Furthermore, the observation and evaluation processes required to determine which teachers are fit for their position and time consuming and disruptive to the general learning environment. However in a situation such as this, I full believe these extensive measures to be more than worth it. I don’t believe any valid argument has been made against the need to educate students on religion in order to make them more aware of the current climate we’re living in. That being said, we simply need to work towards making it happen in a way that will satisfy both sides of the conversation.

There are plenty of educators all over the world who believe in this cause the way the rest of us do and I believe they would adapt to the situation in whatever way needed in order to accomplish our common goal: to properly educate the up and coming generations of students on matters of religion and culture that other generations were not privy to. The school district of Modesto, California is living proof that this can work. Modesto’s unparalleled success should be recognized and their methods be used as the starting point for school districts across America. Specifically, their experiment highlights the importance of well-trained teachers, a good understanding of the law, finding compromise and working towards a common goal. Progress cannot be made with two forces pulling in opposite directions, we’ll simply remain in the same place but end up more frustrated. Our mission will be difficult but not impossible.

Citations

1Kilman, Carrie. “One Nation, Many Gods.” Teaching Tolerance. N.p., 2007. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

2You are being redirected… (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2016, from http://archive.adl.org/religion_ps_2004/religion.html

3Fischer, M. W. (n.d.). Teaching Religion in Public Schools: Removing the Angst. Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/profdev027.shtml

4Pros and Cons of Prayer in School. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2016, from http://www.allabouthistory.org/pros-and-cons-of-prayer-in-school-faq.htm

Reflective-Prof2020

Core Value I. My work demonstrates that I used a variety of social and interactive practices that involve recursive stages of exploration, discovery, conceptualization, and development.

When writing anything, especially something research based, I make a point to explore different perspectives and opinions pertaining to my topic because I understand that things are not always what they seem to be. We can’t stop after looking at just one source or reading something only one time because ideas are never stagnant. Concepts and theories are constantly evolving and improving upon themselves to keep up with the climate of the situation and environment they’re born in. I will say I’ve had trouble with this because I can be stubborn and a  mind but I believe that for the most part I’ve accomplished an acceptable level of exploration, discovery and development. I think this statement is best proved in my “Stone Money Rewrite” because the concept of the assignment made me rethink the way I chose to explain my stance on the topic and whether my thoughts and explanations were valid in an argument like this.

Core Value II. My work demonstrates that I placed texts into conversation with one another to create meaning by synthesizing ideas from various discourse communities. 

In my paper, “Rebuttal,” I included direct quotes from a few different blogs and figures who have strong and clearly worded opinions pertaining to my thesis. Their statements have helped to support and strengthen my position on the topic of teaching religion in schools. I’ve done my best to explore different stances as well as different sources of information make my arguments and explanations as well rounded and holistic as possible because I understand that these different ideas all play into each other and are all intertwined in one way or another.

Core Value III. My work demonstrates that I rhetorically analyzed the purpose, audience, and contexts of my own writing and other texts and visual arguments.

I believe that understanding the context of one’s writing writing and the way in which it will be perceived is absolutely vital to the composition of any piece. It doesn’t matter what the intentions are if the reader’s perception is completely different because once they form an idea about they piece it will be very difficult to convince them of anything different. It will be far easier to predict the perception of a piece if the context is well defined in addition to knowing the audience well. In the same way that one should speak differently to a toddler than they  would to a congressman, the writing style and vernacular should change according to who is being addressed. I believe I best demonstrated this skill in my “Visual Rewrite.” I used a simplistic vernacular and described each scene as clearly as I could think to do.

Core Value IV: My work demonstrates that I have met the expectations of academic writing by locating, evaluating, and incorporating illustrations and evidence to support my own ideas and interpretations. 

I am not a credible source. I have no grounds to make claims or insist that my opinions are the right ones. Evidentiary support is an absolute must in all of my papers. I try my best to at least provide some kind of justification to any statements I make in my writing unless I believe that the statement itself is justified by general knowledge of the circumstances surrounding my thesis. Specifically in my “Visual Rewrite,” I do my best to justify every assumption I made about the video and its context. Rather than simply stating that the room looked like that of a young teenage boy I explained that the room was decorated in stereotypically male shades of blue and grey as well as plenty of athletic trophies and posters.

Core Value V. My work demonstrates that I respect my ethical responsibility to represent complex ideas fairly and to the sources of my information with appropriate citation. 

In my “Definition Argument,” I’m very confident in the way I supplied information and how I worded my opinions and statements in their context. I believe I wrote clearly and concisely in a way that was factual and simple. A decent amount of the text was rewritten from several sources in a more concentrated way that filtered out any content that wasn’t entirely central to my central argument in this paper. I did my best make distinctions between facts that I found in my research and statements I made pertaining to my own opinions as well as deliver both in a a way that would contribute to an effective and well rounded argument rather than in a way that would be simply pushing my own beliefs.

Robust Verbs-Prof2020

Vancouver is having huge problems with heroin addicts committing crimes to support their habits. The people involved with the “free heroin for addicts” program are doing everything they can to stop the addicts. The problem is that the crime rate has skyrocketed due to the addicts’ behavior. The addicts obviously have a hard time getting through their day to day lives. Daily activities such as jobs, interactions, and relationships become to difficult to maintain while leading their current lifestyles. Heroin addicts are characteristically desperate and will do whatever they must to get their hands on the drug including committing crimes such as breaking and entering as well as stealing. Such severe desperation will drive them to great lengths to feed their addiction. This program is making great strides towards lowering the crime rate related to heroin use but isn’t doing much to actually get addicts off drugs. By providing the drug, these addicts will be off the streets, which in turn will prevent them from committing minor street crimes. Such a strategy will also keep the heroin users out of the cycle of entering a hospital for withdrawal or overdose symptoms and then not being able to pay the bill. This program gives people free heroin in the cleanest way possible, which will in turn fix the city but not the addiction that these people face.

Enough About You-Prof2020

Money seems to have a big role in our society; we can’t do much or get far if we don’t have any. Money is valuable in different ways, even when not physically visible. In today’s society, having faith in the government and in the banking system that your money is being handled with in the proper manner is essential. If not then we’d have to hide all of our money under a mattress or around the house. I have no clue what happens in the banks, or how they take care of money. I always thought money was simple; either the money is there or it isn’t. However, after being introduced to this assignment, the Yap Fei, US gold, French francs, Brazilian cruzeros, and debit accounts now seem similar. No one actually sees their money being transferred. When getting paid, your boss doesn’t hand out cash or a physical check, the money’s all directly transferred to the respective bank account and we just have to trust that.

Rebuttal-Prof2020

Difficult But Possible

The concept of teaching about religion rather than teaching religion really is great in theory. However, like so many other “good ideas”, the current plan for execution is flawed. For this to work, the school district would need to ensure that each and every teacher has been properly trained to teach this rigidly strict curriculum in an entirely unbiased and neutral manner. Furthermore, we have to consider the teachers that would disregard their training and take advantage of their position of influence in the classroom to sea students’ opinions in one direction or another. This is particularly dangerous when they’re teaching students of a young age. The younger the child, the more malleable the mind and thought processes. Children are frequently compared to sponges because they are constantly and consistently absorbing every piece of information their senses perceive. When placed in a supposedly safe environment where someone they are meant to be able to trust is manipulating their minds, the outcome could never be positive. This is why finding teachers and supervisors who are dedicated to being objective in this matter is crucial to the success of these programs and is becoming increasingly difficult.

The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis runs a blog titled “Religion & Politics.” In January of 2014, Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote this in her article “The Dangers of Religious Instruction in Public Schools”:

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation is continually contacted by students and parents who encounter teachers and principals who view their captive audience of students as a ripe mission field for recruitment. We handle more than 2,000 complaints a year by members of the public concerned about violations of the separation between church and state, and the vast majority of these concern violations in our public schools.”

Too many educators see these situations as a game, making sport of convincing students that their way is the best way. This attitude is dangerous and harmful in every way. I’m in no way saying that every teacher is determined to brainwash their students into believing a certain way. However, it’s exceptionally difficult to pick out the bad from the good. Furthermore, the observation and evaluation processes required to determine which teachers are fit for their position and time consuming and disruptive to the general learning environment. However in a situation such as this, I full believe these extensive measures to be more than worth it. I don’t believe any valid argument has been made against the need to educate students on religion in order to make them more aware of the current climate we’re living in. That being said, we simply need to work towards making it happen in a way that will satisfy both sides of the conversation.

There are plenty of educators all over the world who believe in this cause the way the rest of us do and I believe they would adapt to the situation in whatever way needed in order to accomplish our common goal: to properly educate the up and coming generations of students on matters of religion and culture that other generations were not privy to. The school district of Modesto, California is living proof that this can work. Modesto’s unparalleled success should be recognized and their methods be used as the starting point for school districts across America. Specifically, their experiment highlights the importance of well-trained teachers, a good understanding of the law, finding compromise and working towards a common goal. Progress cannot be made with two forces pulling in opposite directions, we’ll simply remain in the same place but end up more frustrated.

Citations

  1. Kilman, Carrie. “One Nation, Many Gods.” Teaching Tolerance. N.p., 2007. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.
  2. You are being redirected… (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2016, from http://archive.adl.org/religion_ps_2004/religion.html
  3. Fischer, M. W. (n.d.). Teaching Religion in Public Schools: Removing the Angst. Retrieved November 11, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/profdev027.shtml
  4. Pros and Cons of Prayer in School. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2016, from http://www.allabouthistory.org/pros-and-cons-of-prayer-in-school-faq.htm

Causal Argument-Prof2020

9/11 Made America More Racist

It seems that racism has been around since before the dawn of time itself. It has thrived in the best and worst of times and in every corner of the earth, doing particularly well in the United States of America. America’s relationship with racism has been a very long one and it’s still going strong. As if the situation hadn’t been dire enough, then the twin towers in New York City were attacked in an act of terrorism more horrific and devastating than the world had ever known. Whether or not the 9/11 hijackers understood the consequences of their actions is irrelevant. The after-effects rippled outwards and caused further damage more than what anyone could have expected. Fifteen years later, Americans are still dealing with the repercussions of one man’s decision to attack the United States. 9/11 shocked and terrified the world. That day set a new precedent for the future of public safety all over the globe. The TSA was exploding with new rules and restrictions on who and what can be on a plane. Americans become even more wary of anyone who didn’t look like them. The media turned the situation into a joke. Tabloids were printing new conspiracy theories everyday while shows like “South Park” and “Family Guy” turned the whole ordeal and those behind the attacks into a punchline. The saddest part is that we had an opportunity to make a comeback. It would have been one of the most difficult things our country had ever done and would have further changed the world forever but we failed to take advantage of our opportunity to find good in the situation. We’ve let the 9/11 attacks define our foreign policies, world relations and even how America functions domestically. Furthermore it’s changed how we relate to others. Our culture had never been particularly welcoming to new elements but more now than ever, we bristle at the idea of welcoming anyone or anything we’re not immediately familiar with. In recent years this reaction has softened, especially with younger generations rising up and becoming more politically aware but the majority of America still holds deeply rooted emotions against anything related to the 9/11 hijackings. The ripple effects of the attacks still continue outward even today. Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump made it a main point in his campaign to assure Americans that he’d place restrictions on allowing muslims to enter our country. Regardless of whether or not his prejudice stems from the attacks, many his voters share this sentiment because of the events of 9/11.

Citations
Rose, S. (2013, September 12). Since 9/11, Racism and Islamophobia Remain Intertwined. Retrieved November 04, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/steve-rose/911-racism-islamophobia_b_3908411.html

Poladian, C. (2015, September 11). The United States After 9/11: 6 Things That Have Changed Since 2001. Retrieved November 09, 2016, from http://www.ibtimes.com/pulse/united-states-after-911-6-things-have-changed-2001-2093156

Definition Argument-Prof2020

The separation of church and state is a concept that has been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion more times than it’s possible to keep track of. It defines the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It includes this excerpt:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” [1]

He’s explaining that the Bill of Rights impedes the establishment of a national church which, in turn, prevents the government from interfering with a person’s right to expression of religion. After all, English protestants came to America seeking religious freedoms. That was a main pillar in the development of America as a colony of England.

Over time, the phrase has been so widely used and interpreted that it’s lost some of its salt. The separation of church and state is also tied to more broad religious freedoms such as being able to practice whatever religion you choose in the way you see fit. The United States was founded on biblical principles, most of which serve our country well and support the values of most American citizens, christian or not. However, we cannot claim to be a religiously inclusive nation while our laws only respect one religion.

In addition, having legal freedoms yet being oppressed by the general societal stance isn’t true freedom. For example, muslims are legally permitted to practice their religion in America as they see fit but after the Twin Tower attacks on 9/11, animosity towards Muslim Americans has skyrocketed. One in four Muslims either knows someone who has or have personally experienced an act of anti-muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since 9/11. This discrimination and negative stance towards the entire culture isn’t just affecting those on the receiving end of it. European Americans are being misinformed about the reality of the situation. This extreme instance of widespread prejudice has blinded the rest of us to the truth about the groups involved, resulting in their oppression and our ignorance.

Because of the censorship in schools on what pertaining to religion can and can’t be taught, a lot of the details we learn about the 9/11 attacks comes from outside and often biased sources and so forms our own opinions on what actually happened. This is the reason we need to properly educate people on as many religions as possible. Religion is incredibly controversial and a lot of the friction could most likely be reduced if more people truly understood what they were arguing about. This education needs to start early, in our middle and elementary schools. Far too often, children grow up with convictions they adopted from their parents. Their beliefs aren’t even their own but if they heard it from their parents it has to be right..right? Sadly, that’s not always true. You have complete control over how you view the world but depending on the lens you’re using, what filters through will be vastly different. By properly educating our citizens about different religions and cultural practices, we’re giving them a better opportunity to make informed decisions about their how they interact with others.

While I truly believe in this concept, there are far too many rigid restrictions for this to flow smoothly. When the separation of church and state policy was adopted by the United States, it prevented one problems but started another. With the way the policy is currently being enforced, teaching students in public schools about religious practices becomes very difficult because the government can’t be seen throwing support behind a religious movement. This also prohibits the government from providing any funding or support to a private school, especially those with a religious affiliation. However, there is a loophole. Separation of church and state prevents government funded schools from teaching religion so in 2000, the public school district in Modesto, California began teaching about religion. The World Religions program is heavily regulated and monitored. Each class receives the same textbooks, study guides, visual aids, and lesson plan as every other class in the district. As long as the instructors aren’t giving more attention or support to one religion over others, the plan works and has worked brilliantly.

A group of researchers from the First Amendment Center has been following the program since its inception. The team admitted they were unsure of what their investigation would conclude. Students enrolled in the program were interviewed before, during and immediately after the course ended and then again six months later. They found that the student body involved became far more tolerant of other religions and cultural practices and even more likely to stand up for them and protect the religious rights of others. Students themselves said that the course had broadened their views and prepared them to fight back against faith based bullying. [2Perhaps the biggest concern of parents in the district is that it would weaken the faith of children who were raised with a religious background. Contrary to expectations, this increased tolerance resulted in no change in the faiths of students. Students who entered the program with religious convictions ended the course with the same convictions. [2]

With religion and religious beliefs being such a controversial topic, particularly in America, we need to take great strides as individuals and as a nation to mold our country and communities into those that cultivate and reflect the diversity growing within them. Diversity should not divide us. It should better prepare us to face controversy and handle it fairly and with an open mind.

Citations

  1. “Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury BaptistsThe Final Letter, as Sent.” Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists (June 1998). N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
  2. Kilman, Carrie. “One Nation, Many Gods.” Teaching Tolerance. N.p., 2007. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.