Cyberguy's Blog

Encouraging religion to "beget" off!

Religion in Schools – a Role-Focus Analysis: The Tradition Martyr

This continues the series A Role-Focus Analysis of Religious Arguments.

The second category of theistic support for religion in schools comes from the “Tradition Martyr”. This type of argument resorts to a defensive appeal to utility.

Role \ Focus




Martyr But we are teaching values! Christianity has values. What are we doing wrong? You secularists are causing the trouble.  Why can’t we just all get along like we used to? It is intolerant to not want Christian RI in schools. We’re being oppressed.
Preacher Religion is what gives us values.  It’s in the stories. Religion prevents the breakdown of society. Christian RI is necessary for our religious freedom.
Crusader The Christian religion must be taught, because the Bible says so. New Zealand law, culture and heritage are Christian.And the Bible? Bestseller! The majority rules!  Stop complaining, or go to another school.

Objection 2 – The Tradition Martyr (defensive appeal to utility)

Religion is just like something else that is accepted, such as science or sport. You secularists are causing the trouble. Why can’t we just all get along like we used to?

  1. “There are so many other teachings in the Bible that are not controversial and can be revealed to children and adults without espousing a one-sided opinion with no avenue for discussion. Christians as a whole want children and adults to be encouraged by the inclusive and embracing power of Jesus Christ, the love for our fellow human beings, whatever their status, and marvel at the evolving beauty of the world around us.”
  2. “Surely, in matters such as the universe and even life itself, belief in an intelligent creative power is equal to lots of scientific theories based on theories based on theories. They haven’t even finished tweaking relativity yet. Isn’t creation also a scientific theory within the prevailing standards?”
  3. “Surely if a child is feeling ‘punished’ when opting out of *any* class – be it religious, sport or whatever the context – that should be the responsibility of the school to correct, rather than whomever is running the programme being opted out of? Should the facilitators of said programme provide a 2nd class for those whose parents have opted them out? Would those parents not also protest that class?”

A lot of confused arguments seem to be made in this category. They imply a false equivalence between religion and something else that is generally not protested, and therefore anybody objecting to religion must be wrong.

  • Religion is not the same as, for example, sport or science. Religion is a set of beliefs and opinions that are very much open to debate. And in the marketplace of ideas religion is no longer going to get a free ride.
  • Tradition is not a measure of truth or right. Just because something has been done for a long time is no reason not to challenge it if it is wrong.
  • It is the privileging of religion by forcing it into our secular schools through a deliberate legal loophole that is divisive, not the people objecting to that.

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