Religion in Schools – a Role-Focus Analysis: The Tradition Preacher
July 21, 2012
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This continues the series A Role-Focus Analysis of Religious Arguments. To get the background, read the post at the preceding link first if you haven’t already.
This is the fifth category of theistic support for religion in schools. It is the “Tradition Preacher” – which characterises an assertive appeal to utility. We have seen it recently with an inflammatory opinion piece in the NZ Herald (Hugh Dickey: Ignore the roots of our values at society’s peril – Opinion – NZ Herald News)
|Role \ Focus
||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.
||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.
||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 4 – The Tradition Preacher (assertive appeal to utility)
Rejecting religious instruction is symptomatic of the breakdown of society, where everyone “does their own thing”.
- “As a Christian, I think we ignore its truths at our peril. Already we are sadly witnessing the breakdown of society as we get rid of the moral absolutes through adhering to post-modern, humanistic thinking in which everyone does ‘right in their own eyes’. In fact, there’s a bible story about just that point.”
- “Mr Harrison, if you are not basing values on that “archaic document” what, may I ask, are you basing them on? Once you reject God, all values become subject to personal opinion. Who is to say we should be loving, kind and honest? And who are we to tell children they should be? Society is reduced to doing what “feels right for me” and children are left to “work it out for themselves”. And we wonder why we have such massive social problems like youth crime, excessive drinking, drugs and suicide.”
- “In times of disaster, such as in Christchurch and the West Coast, the country has seen the vital role that churches play in holding their respective communities together. At a time of crisis, it is to Christianity that we turn. Yet we constantly pick away at the Christian fabric of this country and then wonder why our society begins to unravel.”
- We are not rejecting religious instruction. We are just rejecting religious people using the schools as their recruiting ground.
- You don’t need religion to be good. Secular ethics existed long before Christianity – think of the ancient Greek philosophical tradition that preceded Jesus by centuries.
- In any case, society does not break down without religion. We still have the police and the rule of law. Around the world, the least religious countries (such as the Scandinavian countries) have better social conditions by any measure than more religious countries.
- The world is currently at its least violent state in the whole of recorded human history. Wars are smaller, take fewer lives, and are over quicker than ever before – and this trend is continuing. There is no breakdown of society – actually the opposite.
- Are you really saying the only thing stopping you from going on a violent orgiastic rampage of murder and mayhem is that you are being personally monitored 24/7 by supernatural surveillance?
- If you want your own children to have religious instruction, put them into Sunday school. No-one is stopping you.
This category of religious argument is a fairly common one, taken by those people who see religion as a civilizing force for good. The myth that society is breaking down is the driving fear, which is quite easily refuted.