There is almost universal agreement that the institution of Public Education has been an abject failure in preparing its students to assume the role of critical, mature thinkers as they enter the adult world. The cause(s) for this failure are advanced by as many as those who have chosen to comment upon them.
This article suggests one element that has seldom been reflected in the professional literature – the pervasive endorsement by governmental leaders, of religious faith as an explanation for natural phenomena.
While at a formal level, we are protected from the intrusion of religion into lives of students, at the cultural, personal level, students are surrounded by a single message repeated in many ways. That message is that the teachings of religion are ultimately to be regarded as having greater accuracy and authority, than those of science.
Granted that the First Amendment to the Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Yet, the phrase, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” are the enabling words which give free reign to those seeking not only to proselytize, but to impose their beliefs upon the Impressionable.
From an article about the impact of religion on presidential candidacies we read that,
“Not only is it true that all 43 American presidents – even those who doubted religion – associated themselves with the Christian faith, it is still far easier for a politician from a fringe religious sect, such as Mormonism, to be a serious national candidate than it would be for an atheist or an agnostic.”
The pervasiveness of governmental and cultural endorsement of religion goes far beyond the acknowledgement of religious affiliation by political candidates. It extends to almost every facet of government and educational communications with their “customers.”
· The Swearing In ceremony for all government officials invariably includes the use of a Bible.
· All U.S. currency and coinage carries the label, “In God We Trust.”
· The pledge to the flag contains the words, “Under God.”
· Each session of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate is led in prayer by a member of the clergy,
· Although eventually struck down by the Supreme Court, a number of public schools have attempted to substitute or complement their teaching regarding evolution with the concepts of Intelligent Design.
· The interjection of religion introduced by candidates of both parties in their primary campaign efforts.
Two psychologists recently wrote an article, titled, Why Do Some People Resist Science? In it, they say:
“….if the existence of supernatural entities like gods, karma, and ancestor spirits is never questioned by adults in the community, the existence of such entities will be unquestioningly accepted by children.