Iowa School District Releases Religious Liberty Guidelines


Spencer School District in Iowa has apparently released a revised religious liberty draft policy which in part includes these guideline:

Teachers shall prepare and teach lessons throughout the year and throughout the curriculum that:

  • Approach religion as academic, not devotional
  • Strive for student awareness of religions, not acceptance of religions
  • Study about religion, but do not practice religion in the classroom
  • Expose students to diversity of religious views, not impose any particular view
  • Educate about a variety of religions, not promote or denigrate religion
  • Inform students about various beliefs, not conform students to any particular belief
  • Demonstrate the impact of economic, social, political and cultural effects of religion throughout history
  • Are age appropriate
Under the teacher training and curriculum section it states:
Further, the proper role for instruction about religion in the public school is in its educational value and not in religious observance or celebration. According to the Supreme Court, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment forbids state action or practices that aid or prefer one religion over another or that aid all religions and thus endorse or show preference for religion over non-religion, while the Free Exercise Clause requires any state actions or practices which interfere with an individual's constitutionally protected religious freedom to be strictly scrutinized.
On the surface, I agree with all of this. I think that if religion can be handled in a completely secular academic manner, it's a powerful tool that can teach kids a lot about history and society. However, I think this person's comment expresses what most of our fears are whenever any school district instills specific policies regarding religion:

This is just a time bomb waiting to explode. With the state of discourse and civility in the nation today, this will only create division, suspicion, distrust, anger, etc. among and btwn students, students & teacher/preacher, students & their family, teacher/preacher & student families, etc.

Here's what will happen. This 'class' will be inacted. Over time, the christian religion discussion will occupy 90-95% of the 'class'. At that time, someone will sue the school and the school will drop the class rather than amend the content.

Want your kid to learn religion? Do it your self, send them to a religious school or bible study. When churches, of all religions, start paying taxes then maybe we can discuss using tax money to teach religions. This isn't about education at all, it's about pushing an agenda. Those supporting this would very likely be the first to elect cutting a class they deem 'liberal'.

And speaking of cutting, with budgets the way they are, why is there money for this? I think it should be on a list of ALL options on how to spend the money this would require so it can be considered along with other items (classes, supplies, resources, tools, etc) as to which is most worthy of this expense. But that won't happen.

Also, I take exception to this statement "protecting the liberty rights of students of all faiths and no faith.". Who's to say that not believing in a religion means a person has 'no faith'? I have faith in science, nature, etc.

I don't think our country is ready to incorporate religion into the public school curriculum in a secular manner and because of that, I don't think it should be introduced at all.