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JLeslie's avatar

If you attended public school in America: did any teacher of yours ever say anything antiGod?

Asked by JLeslie (47113 points ) February 20th, 2012

Did religion ever come up? Or, politics for that matter, where you felt a teacher was trying to persuade you to think one way or the other?

I can’t think of one instance. The only politics we discussed was like a history lesson about our politics and political parties on government class. Religion, nothing. Maybe the mention of Christmas or a holiday party, but nothing in class where we were taught a specific religious doctrine, and never anything said against a religion.

I just wonder where this talk comes from the public schools are anti-religion? An exboyfriend of mine was saying something along these lines to me in facebook a while back (somehow in the years that have past he has become extremely right wing on some issues, which still confuses me) and when I asked him, “did any of our teachers in school every say anything to influence your politics or religion,” he replied, “I’ll plead the 5th to not aggravate my wife and family.” He knows that talk is total bullshit when it comes to the schools we attended. This seemed to come from the talk that “teachers” tend to be more liberal, but I think that statistic refers to university professors anyway.

But, I am certainly willing to be corrected, maybe some communities have things going on in public schools that are antireligion and trying to steer children to be more liberal? The one thing I can think of, which was not happening when I was in school, is I have heard people saying schools not teavh about gay sex. Do they? Or, do they just teach about hay reltioships?

What’s your take?

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56 Answers

tom_g's avatar

I don’t recall religion coming up at all. I did have a teacher in 8th grade, however, that was a hardcore Republican. He had a huge Ronald Reagan poster in the classroom, and he would often ridicule “bleeding heart liberals” during class.

Sunny2's avatar

No and no. I didn’t hear any in any of my schooling. I was free to form my own opinions and beliefs.

Mariah's avatar

Never.

wundayatta's avatar

I had to take “The Bible as Literature,” in English class Junior year. That was about the most boring class I ever had to sit through. Hated it. But I took them at their word; that we were reading (boring and badly written) literature, not theology.

I grew up during the Vietnam War. In my town, there were no supporters of the war. So we shared this common view about the evil and stupidity of the war and a sympathy for the young protesters. We were also sympathetic towards the civil rights protesters. To me this was not politics. It was just the mainstream of how people felt.

As you might imagine, when I grew up and left town, things were much different. I was shocked at how the world was. Who knew that New York City was a hotbed of right wing radicalism. My world has slowly been getting ever more conservative, since. My childhood seems like a heaven of liberal sensibility, now.

Don’t blame me. I’m from Massachusetts!

Blackberry's avatar

Nope. I don’t even think we talked about religion at all.

zenvelo's avatar

Not for me, and not for my kids. It never seems to come up. It barely came up in Catholic school except during the period for Religion.

deni's avatar

No, never, the only religion I can ever remember even learning about was the beginning of the Catholic church and that shtuff.

wilma's avatar

I had a science teacher once that we could tell was an atheist. He made a couple of comments, that were anti-God, but usually he avoided discussions about that subject. I think he knew that it wouldn’t be well received in my school and didn’t want to get started and say too much and perhaps get in trouble.

I had a “Great Religions of the World” class in high school. The teacher was great and although I think she was probably Christian, she never said so and remained very neutral about all the religions that we discussed. I learned a lot in that class but the most important thing I learned was that all of the major religions were more alike than they were different. There were extremes sometimes, in most of them too, but mostly just people looking for answers about life.

amujinx's avatar

The only time religion was even remotely mentioned in any way than purely academic was when I was in my Biology class, and the teacher told us that anyone who had religious reasons to sit out the section on evolution could.

cazzie's avatar

I grew up in the States and went through to high school there. We studied English and American Literature. You simply can’t study that stuff without knowing the symbolism and literary components of the bible. The bible was brought up as a piece of historical text that was referred to by classic writers. How would anyone ever understand Dante’s Inferno or Paradise Lost by Milton or even John Donne’s work. So, yeah.

The teacher was one of my favourites. I think he was Catholic, but it never really came up. I was always more impressed that he could speak old English and recited parts of Beowulf to us in the original text by heart.

Noone was ever ‘excused’ from learning anything because of religion at my school. You learned it, you didn’t have to personally believe it, I guess, but remaining ignorant was not an option in my school district. Some kids were allowed to eat somewhere else during lunchtime because of their religion, but they had to learn everything the other kids did.

cookieman's avatar

Nope, only in history class as it related to events of a given time period.

I went to public schools, but even in Catholic school now (which my daughter attends), they only discuss religion during the religion period.

mrentropy's avatar

I always thought the general feeling was, “If you don’t embrace it you are against it.” Hence, if you don’t want prayer in school then you are a Godless heathen.

zenvelo's avatar

@mrentropy Was that ever brought up to you by a teacher when you were in school? School prayer was gone by the early sixties in most places. Was it still contentious when you were in school?

6rant6's avatar

The closest thing any teacher ever came to talking religion was in college, not public school. The monetarist in the econ department thought Milton Friedman was god.

Moegitto's avatar

Nope, my teachers never let any religious views escape. That’s amazing seeing as how one was an Atheist, I would have thought there would have been some sort of war in that building.

@deni I love the shtuff, lol

#backontopic We always got more lessons on politics, mainly due to history reasons. I actually asked this question in my senior year in high school (I was a random jerk). My homeroom teacher said most high tier subjects wont be talked about in school unless it’s in its own class.

King_Pariah's avatar

7th grade History teacher was an adamant Muslim who really tried to shove Islam down our throats and could not go into any topic of history without delving into Islam and how Muslims affected such and such event. What Islam has to do with King Leonidas or George Washington? I have no idea either.

TexasDude's avatar

I experienced two extremes when it comes to this topic. I had an English teacher who was a total God-squadder of the highest order who would pass out Chick Tracts randomly every now and then and interject God into the most unrelated subjects. I also had a contemporary issues teacher who told us the Bible was toilet paper on the first day of class and she eventually admitted that she believes all religious conservatives should be put in death camps.

I went to high school in the south, if that matters.

mrentropy's avatar

@zenvelo Nope; never brought up, never mentioned, never happened. Just a couple of students protesting the ‘Pledge of Allegiance.’

mrentropy's avatar

Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I did have a philosophy class and one of the students thought it might be philosophical to talk about the existence of God. The teacher squished it and said that if you believed in God then there was a God.

I, of course, objected but I quickly realized that it was just her way of shutting down the conversation before it got started.

zenvelo's avatar

@King_Pariah In what country did you go to 7th grade?

digitalimpression's avatar

Public schools aren’t anti-God, they just lack God.

DominicX's avatar

Nope. And they didn’t say anything pro-God either. Which is good.

blueiiznh's avatar

I went to both Catholic and Public school.

The Catholic School teachers certainly spoke in a persuasive fashion towards certain religious and political beliefs.

Public Schools did not do that where and while I attended.

I am very glad for the fact that even though the Catholic School had a strong stand on certain things, that within my family structure, we openly discussed the tops that did not seem to fit or match the times.

I still see this in todays Catholic and Public learning environments. I side on teaching to a certain stand, but allowing for individualism.

SuperMouse's avatar

The only time God was ever mentioned in my school was during the Pledge of Allegiance. While we did discuss current events, none of my teachers ever talked politics.

Paradox25's avatar

I can’t really recall anything to do with politics or religion coming up while I was in elementary, middle and high school. Most of the teachers hunted where I live (at that time) but even they were a mix of Republicans and Democrats. I did have one teacher in the eigth grade that was a diehard Republican (and Reagan fanatic) who would, on occasion during our social studies classes, bring up his political preferences.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Not within the context of the classes. In my (rural) elementary school, we occasionally would have talks by the local preacher (don’t even remember what denomination he was), but he was not not really pushy about it. Later, he became a substitute teacher, and we all knew who he was, and what he did for a living, but it was never brought into the classes he taught.

I went to a Catholic school for a year (in grade 6) – that was very different. We went to church one day per week, and I remember attending the funeral of a teacher’s spouse during class time once – I though that was wildly inappropriate, especially since it was my first experience with death and it was open casket. I think we were given the choice not to attend, but what does that really mean when you’re 12?

Otherwise, I’ve seldom been aware of teachers’ religious or anti-religious stances unless I got to know them outside the classroom. In university, I think teachers were a little freer to make exclamations about how crazy one side or the other was – to some extent. Profs in undergraduate biology classes usually impressed me by how much restraint they showed, actually. In some cases, you could see they were struggling to not say what they really thought, so that the class would not be sidetracked.

Grad school – much more open forum. The profs largely treat us as equals, and we all speak our minds pretty freely. I mean, most people are respectful if they know they’re in the presence of someone who is religious, but there’s a lot more interaction between students and profs, and if the conversation is about religion, then people will speak their minds.

Edit: I should also mention that in my high school, all students were required to take either a course on Catholicism (if Catholic) or a course on ethics and morality (which often took the form of a course on world religions) every year. Being in the latter group, I never felt that we were being shown what to believe, or not to believe anything. I always wished the Catholic students could join us.

Judi's avatar

When my 6th grade teacher told us about evolution she first talked about what a theory was. She probably spent more time talking about theories than she did about evolution. She then explained the “theory of evolution” and asked us if we knew of any other “theories” about how the world came to be. I was thinking it, but not brave enough to mention creation. No one else did either, so she (very cautiously) said, “what about a God who might have created it?” I wish I had been brave enough to bring it up for her.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Judi She explained theories in that way in a science class? That’s awful.

Judi's avatar

@dappled_leaves This was 1971 or 1972. We had just been given premission to wear pants to school instead of skirts or dresses.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Judi a scientific theory has never meant what it sounds like your teacher was teaching (even in 1971). A scientific theory is like a scientific law, except laws describe and theories explain. Theories never “graduate” into laws once they are proven, and God creating the universe can never be a scientific theory because it’s not falsifiable and therefore can never be scientific.

Here’s a great explanation of Theory vs. Law.

JLeslie's avatar

When I first learned about evolution there was a short discussion about it being a theory also. The way it was presented to me then, this is in the 1970’s, was scientists believed it likely happened the way presented in the text, but they continue to do research. I don’t remember any mention of alternative theories though.

linguaphile's avatar

I had workers at my high school who would openly and chin-up defiantly refuse to participate in the morning pledge recital to our flag. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses and took the opportunity to witness to us when we asked why they didn’t say the pledge. They also refused to sing Happy Birthdays, and again, witnessed when we asked why.

When I was 8, I was told by a classroom aide that the devil would reach his claw out and grab me, pull me into hell and burn me for eternity because my mom didn’t take me to the right church. Nice.

Other than that, religion was only discussed in academic contexts in literature and history classes.

Nothing anti-Christian though.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Not really. We did have a lecture on evolution, in which we were told that, yes, we’d be learning about evolution because this was a science class, and no, we wouldn’t be following it up with a lecture on creationism because that wasn’t a scientific subject. And I had a couple classes where the students could debate various political issues, and could bring up god themselves, but the teachers never said anything about god one way or the other.

CaptainHarley's avatar

In the schools I attended, we almost always said the Pledge of Allegiance and The Lord’s Prayer first thing every morning. Then again, that was in an entirely different universe than the current one.

King_Pariah's avatar

@zenvelo USA. You want State? California. And it wasn’t a regular teacher at a regular middle school. It was a GATE school.

augustlan's avatar

Nope, never that I can recall.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Never that I recall.

bkcunningham's avatar

I went to public schools. I remember in third grade having our morning prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and singing a song. I don’t remember the song we sang, but I don’t think it was religious. What I do remember is listening every morning to the sound of the class next door singing Michael Row the Boat Ashore. Our class would be hushed while Mrs. Graybeal wrote on the board and the sound of Mrs. Elswick’s sweet voice mingled with the childrens’ coming from next door would always fascinate me.

My sixth grade was still in elementary school. We changed classes three times in a way to get us prepared for junior high. All of my teachers were men who were in college during the Vietnam War. More of the hippie type. One of my teachers brought up a discussion one day in class about not being allowed to discuss his beliefs about God with us. We were around 12 and all of us admired him and thought he was soo cool. He made us promise not to say anything or he could lose his job. He gave us a sixth grade lesson in Darwin.

I went to the library and checked out The Voyage of the Beagle and the Origin of Species after his talk. I kept the books and never returned them. I had to get money from my Mom to pay for those books and have them to this day. I lied and told her I lost them. lol

SavoirFaire's avatar

Though I went to a public school, both the students and faculty were 90% Catholic. No teacher ever said anything anti-God in my school. A few said some anti-Jewish things, we had to read parts of the Bible before reading East of Eden (though I don’t really think that was inappropriate), and a few teachers blatantly favored students who attended their church. Rules were bent to allow a prayer group to meet in the morning.

Teachers were a little more open about politics in high school. One teacher was blatantly conservative, told us that Reagan was the best president ever—even better than George Washington—and sent students to the principal’s office for expressing liberal opinions. He taught government and economics, so there was very little discussion in those classes. My history teachers were a liberal Vietnam veteran and a socialist Civil War reenactor. I didn’t know until after graduation, however, because they never talked about it.

One of my health teachers was fired for answering a question about birth control truthfully. She never even mentioned homosexuality.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

No. In public school the teachers often mentioned God as well as other Biblical characters. The Ten Commandments were posted on a wall in each classroom. Some teachers also hung a Cross or Crucifix on her/his classroom wall.

bkcunningham's avatar

@SavoirFaire, fired for answering a question about birth control truthfully? What do you mean?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@bkcunningham She was asked to explain how condoms worked and did so. She was required by law to only mention failure rates and then talk about abstinence.

bkcunningham's avatar

That is unbelievable to me, @SavoirFaire. I know even 20 years ago public school teachers were demonstrating to elementary school children how to use rubbers by unrolling them on bananas. This is in the small rural county where I’m from. I had a woman tell me one day her son asked her about wet dreams because he’d heard it in his sex-ed class in school and was afraid he’d pee on himself in his sleep.

We had discussions about condoms when I was in junior high and high school in the 1970s. Our health classes were part of our physical education and (drivers’ education in high school…seriously). We were not co-ed in these classes but had classes about reproduction and birth control back in the stone age when I was in primary school.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@bkcunningham The thing is, laws against legitimate sexual education are relatively new (late 1980s and forward). We were taught about sex (sort of) and sexually transmitted diseases. We were even told about different forms of birth control. But again, the local laws required teachers to discuss failure rates only and then transition to the merits of abstinence. Most of our health class was about nutrition and drugs.

I was quite fortunate to have a nurse for a mother who insisted on making sure that I received proper information. My father also had several different versions of the sex talk calibrated for different ages. I must have been a terror for my poor health teachers because I knew the facts and would call them out in class for misleading us (not realizing that their jobs were at risk if they confirmed what I was saying).

bkcunningham's avatar

Laws “against” legitimate sexual education were drafted in the late-1980s? I’m I understanding that correctly?

Symbeline's avatar

No teacher that I recall ever said anything anti god. I actually had catechism class though, where the teacher obviously wanted the students to partake in his belief, which was very genuine. However, it never felt forced, and you could tell that his intent was to teach rather than convert. That teacher was awesome in so many ways too, he never got pissed at anyone and he was always cracking jokes.

Politics, even less. What I felt pushed on by most teachers was how you’re supposed to act in society, and politics or religion was never used for this, strangely enough.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@bkcunningham It’s not like they were sold that way, but yes. It was part of the conservative revolution, which started with school boards. The politics of abstinence-only “education” made it legally and economically impossible for teachers in many places to tell students the truth about most sexual matters.

linguaphile's avatar

@SavoirFaire You’re right—here are some articles about funding. Once schools adopted abstinence only education, teachers were banned from saying more than what was on the “talking points” list.

From a 2002 article mentioning the funding’s beginnings in 1996 with the Welfare Reform Act $135 million had already been put into abstinence education. Sneaky how Bush wrapped abstinence ed into the reauthorization of the Welfare Reform Act…

2004

From a 2005 article

Article discussing the distortion of scientific data

2010 Opinion Blog

Obama’s stance

bkcunningham's avatar

I remember a discussion on Fluther awhile back on teen pregnancy rates being down. From 1996 to 2012 is 16 years. Maybe it is working.

linguaphile's avatar

@bkcunningham One of the articles I posted above says teen pregnancies are up 4%... I would have to read more articles to be able to say more, though.

bkcunningham's avatar

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The US teen birth rate fell by more than one-third from 1991 through 2005, but then increased by 5 percent over two consecutive years. Data for 2008 and 2009, however, indicate that the long-term downward trend has resumed.

http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/

dappled_leaves's avatar

@bkcunningham I don’t think that teen pregnancy rates can show whether abstinance-only education is working unless you can also show that fewer teens are having sex.

Pandora's avatar

Nope. At least not in class. But I did have an athiest teacher in high school who I help during my free class period. We would discuss religion but he didn’t put me down for my beliefs. He was a history teacher and just liked observing and discussing if we were ok with it. He thought it all a part of history and he liked facts about history. He thought a historian doesn’t interfere, they just observe and records. Thats why he never really tried to interject his own opinions. He said history should be about facts and not opinions of the obsever. So he would ask us questions on what we thought but he would never give us his own opinions.

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