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Example research essay topic: Secular Humanism Establishment Clause - 2,168 words

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... religious goal over 2, 000 years ago in the Christian Scriptures. Bergman states, "Incidentally, the source of the belief in the equality of man is the Bible, few ancient books espouse this concept, and it is foreign to most non-Christian peoples (6). " Since these concepts are biblical in origin, why are the students not told this? What about the fact that abortion, homosexuality and fornication are talked about in school, but teachers are not allowed to discuss the religious side of the issue, only the side deemed non-religious? Though the public schools are teaching a type of religion, obviously, the students are not informed about it; in fact, the topic of religion is not deemed important (6). Community schools, before federal aid was instigated, were to reflect the values of those who lived in it. "What happened to "community public schools" that were to reflect the values of the community?

They disappeared when federal aid was approved. Now only what is approved by secularists [humanists] in Washington is neutral (22). " As James David Hunter documents, "Public education arguably shares a common ethical orientation with modern humanism, particularly to the degree that these perspectives are advanced without respect for cultural traditions that might dissent (4). " Community's values are no longer taken into account when curriculum is chosen. In recent times, the idea of choice in education has come to life with a system of tuition vouchers, but criticism of this choice has been rampant among the educators who believe in humanism. Richard A. Baer, Jr. writes: "The point is this: Education never takes place in a moral and philosophical vacuum.

If the larger questions about human beings and their destiny are not being asked and answered within a predominantly Judeo-Christian framework, they will be addressed within another philosophical or religious framework but hardly one that is "neutral. " The arrogance and philosophical implausibility of secular humanism are demonstrated by the insistence of many humanists that their position possesses such neutrality, lack of dogma, and essential rationality. It is an arrogance that also quickly becomes coercive and imperialistic, as is clearly seen in the widespread opposition among such educators toward genuine choice in education, for instance, the kind of choice that would be possible through a system of education tuition vouchers (23). " If America is a land of freedom, one would assume that Americans could choose where to send their children to school and what they are taught. However, not all Americans can afford private schools, so beyond their local public school, there is no choice. With all of this discord, it would be surprising if no one had taken this matter to the courts. They have, in some aspects. First one must look at the history of the First Amendment.

The First Amendment was written to guarantee that the interest of certain faiths would not be expanded by direct or indirect benefaction of the government, at least not to the hindrance of smaller, minority faiths. When originally written, its intention was to curb the "deep and long-standing tensions" between various inter-Protestant competitions (4). Of course, they also encompassed conflicts between Protestants and Catholics and between Jew and Christians, whose beliefs are quite different, though these conflicts were minor because Catholics and Jews comprised less than two percent of the population at the start of the nineteenth century. When these populations increased, their full religious liberties were still restricted, continuing past the beginning of the twentieth century (4). This failure to fully perfect the ideals of the First Amendment is important because "many of the social dynamics taking place in the present find a parallel in the past (4). " Not only have the numbers of Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, and Buddhists grown, but the secular humanists have increased from two percent in 1962 to about eleven percent in 1990.

Though humanism is not the same kind of religion as Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism are determined to be, how should they be perceived for First Amendment purposes? The Supreme Court held a strict definition of religion " Our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian " until the early 1940 s, when it broadened the definition: "Religious belief arises from a sense of the inadequacy of reason as a means of relating the individual to his fellow men and to his universe sense common to men in the most primitive and the most highly civilized societies It is a belief finding expression in a conscience which categorically requires the believer to disregard elementary self-interest and to accept martyrdom in preference to transgressing its tenets Conscientious objection may justly be regarded as a response of the individual to an inward mentor, call it conscience or God, that is for many persons at the present time the equivalent of what has always been thought a religious impulse (4). " This expanded the criterion from the nature of belief in a divine being to the psychological function of belief (4). In 1961 the Supreme Court decided that a Maryland law violated the no establishment clause because it put "the power and authority of the State of Maryland on the side of one particular sort of believers those who are willing to say they believe in the existence of God (4). " This new functional definition was not used with the no establishment clause by opponents until the case Smith v. Board of School Commissioners.

The plaintiffs believed that most of the textbooks in the county public school system promoted secular humanism's religion, which would violate the no establishment clause of the First Amendment. The first judgment in the case favored the plaintiff; however it was eventually overturned. A Washington Post columnist, Colman McCarthy, wrote: "A careful reading of the decision, as against a skimming of news accounts of it, reveals that Mobile families had a fair grievance: That what was taught in classrooms about religion was impeding the teachings of mothers and fathers at home about religion. Whats wrong with that complaint? (4) " What is wrong with that complaint? Surely every parent has the right to teach their children what they want to. It seems confusing to find that the Supreme Court did not believe humanist religion to be in school curriculum, especially when humanists themselves have admitted to the fact, as documented earlier.

However, humanists have backtracked from their earlier, outspoken works. Paul Kurtz, quoted earlier, wrote his 1989 book, Eupraxophy: Living Without Religion, to "take back" all the earlier writings of humanists that claimed it a religion. He even coined a termeupraxophyto describe humanism without using the word religion. "Eupraxophyprovides a coherent, ethical life stance presents a cosmic theory of reality defends a set of criteria governing the testing of truth claims advocates an ethical posture. And it is committed implicitly or explicitly to a set of political ideals. Eupraxophy combines both a Weltanshuung and a philosophy of living. " Now, why would Kurtz do this after he had decided already that humanism was, in fact, a religion, his religion?

Why? Kurtz realizes that if humanism is religion, then it will not be allowed in the schools: "For if humanism, even naturalistic and secular humanism, is a religion, then we would be faced with a violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof. (24). " It causes more confusion in the whole topic when different people claim different things. The whole argument comes down to this: That academic freedom seems to be unequal among educators. There are many different religious beliefs in America, and most teachers would claim to have some kind of religion or world view. "Academic freedom is the ability of the instructor to teach what he / she feels is the truth about reality in an intellectually honest and reasonable way (6). " Teachers in the present day are not allowed to teach what they believe and why, because of the First Amendment. Humanists and Christians have both agreed that religion will be taught in the schools in one manner or another, and this causes a great problem because someone must choose which religion will be taught. Novel writes in his Clergy in the Classroom: "Imagine a child enrolled in a public school and learning only what that public school imparted (with no outside interference from family, church, Christian teachers or Congressional chaplains).

When he graduated, what would he believe? Without divine intervention, he wouldnt have much choice: Secular Humanism would be all he knew. This situation is idyllic, as far as the Humanists are concerned. Because their doctrines are every bit as dogmatic as Christian doctrine, and because they view Christianity as a rotting corpse, they use their established position to censor any hint of positive Christian influence in the classroom.

Though they posture as open-minded, tolerant folks, Humanists eagerly discriminate against Christianity in the classroom (7). " This is not fair, just as it would not be fair if Americas public schools taught strictly Christian doctrine. Excluding religion from the classroom, when the whole purpose of school is to teach the entire body of knowledge, is "censorship of the worst sort (6). " Many parents, Humanist or Christian, Buddhist or Catholic, are rightfully worried that their childrens teachers will indoctrinate their children with some specific religious belief. However, students are bright, reasoning people and do not gullibly believe everything a teacher says. Children who have strong prejudices against certain groups do not let go of them easily, even when a teacher tries to help that child overcome the prejudice. Also, a teachers ideas may spark a childs desire to further research the topic so that the child comes to his own conclusions. If students are to become those who can debate important topics, it seems that removing all religious questions would hinder that which is significant for living a well-rounded life (6).

Jerry Bergman gives the example of Australia to clarify whether it is possible to bring religion into the classroom. Only three percent of Australias population attends church regularly, but the schools still have classes in religious education as an "integral part of the school curriculum at all grade levels (6). " This brings the conclusion that religion in schools is feasible, and not just the religion of one group. In conclusion, the questions asked at the beginning have been answered, but not fully. It has been proven that Humanism is a religion, by quotes of many influential Humanists and by the Supreme Court, and that there is evidence of Humanist beliefs in our school curriculum, by a federal government study and by Humanists admittance. Many men, Humanist, Christian, and those with unknown beliefs, have agreed that education cannot occur without some religious worldviews influence, and the topic does not seem to be dormant in their minds. The battle is not over; the writer is quite convinced that there will be more court battles concerning this issue.

To have an education system that treats each persons beliefs equally, there needs to be a change. Either separate all children into schools of their respective religions, or treat them as intelligent individuals with minds that deserve to learn about all religious views and the immense amount of history that goes with them. Bibliography: ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY Shujaa, Mwalimu J. Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education: A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, Inc. , 1994. This book covered many areas of African-American education, and was a great background knowledge source.

The topics most valid to my interests were the African experiences in schools, the analysis of African-American males response to schooling, exploring exemplary African-American teachers views, and African-Americans communal nature of learning. Also I got great information concerning different school environments, and their effect on African-American students education, which I then used to get strategies for teaching African-Americans from. Haynes, Norris M. Critical Issues In Educating African-American Children.

Langley Park, Maryland: IAAS Publishers, Inc. , 1993. The information about academic self-concepts and achievement and expectancy and school achievement was really helpful in preparing for my presentation. Chapter Four, "Academic Self-concepts and Achievement" was also important. There was also several chapters on the African-American male student and their schooling history and achievement, but I wanted statistics concerning both genders, so I did not use it in my actual presentation. However, I did take that information into account. Levine, Michael.

African Americans and Civil Rights. Oryx Press: 1996. This was a great overall history book, and I used it when looking for information about laws that discriminated towards African-Americans. It turned out to be a very convenient book to use for that information because it was full of discriminatory information. There was even a list at the end of the book of all legislation and important occurrences in African-American history, and I was able to pick and choose those which were important to my part of the presentation.


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Research essay sample on Secular Humanism Establishment Clause

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