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Mariah's avatar

What do you think about religion-centered student groups in public high schools?

Asked by Mariah (25876points) October 12th, 2011

The discussion that has recently arisen in this thread inspired this question. Do you think it’s okay for public high schools to have religion-centered student groups? If so, how about atheism-centered student groups?

My high school had a group called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which I always thought was kind of bizarre. I’m not sure I understand the purpose of gathering Christian athletes in a high school group, as opposed to simply athletes.

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45 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I honestly don’t care as long as there are certain guidelines. But I wouldn’t trust those guidelines to be met or enforced.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve never liked religion being in schools except as part of history and social studies classes.

HungryGuy's avatar

Doesn’t bother me either. If they allow student groups at all, they should allow students to form almost any kind of group they want, as long as there are guidelines…no proselytizing, no bullying, etc..

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’d rather not. Either way.

snowberry's avatar

Yes, and yes..

Mariah's avatar

I’m open to change my opinion if somebody comes in here with a good argument, but these are my thoughts:

First of all, it only seems fair to me to have Christian groups so long as athiest, Muslim, and any other religious groups are allowed.

Even if they’re all allowed, I think I’d prefer not to have these groups at all. For one thing, it’s exclusionary. I think the concept of separating students up into groups based on religion goes against the general goals of a public high school. Contrast with the gay-straight alliance, which, while being about LGBT issues, doesn’t exclude members who aren’t LGBT. As these sorts of issues are liable to form rifts between believers and nonbelievers, acceptors and non-acceptors, I don’t think an exclusionary group reinforcing that rift is necessarily a good idea.

Also, not being a Christian is really unpopular in some areas, and some athiest kids in those areas may wish to keep their atheism secret. Having Christian groups in schools creates an avenue for athiest kids to get “outted” – “hey, wanna come to [such and such Christian group] with me?” “Uhhhhh…..”

snowberry's avatar

@Mariah, You don’t have to be a Christian to attend a Christian club in a public school. Just like the other groups you mentioned.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I can’t claim to know exactly what you are talking about, where I went to school in Spain religion classes that leaned towards indoctrination were the norm. We did not have all these after school things, there was no such thing as hall passes, or any of that other stuff I see on The Simpsons tv show school.

Having said that, assuming that this is a group organized by the students, then I see no problem with it at all. If it is iniciated or regulated by the school in any way, then I would not be ok with it.

Blackberry's avatar

@Mariah I agree. In theory it may work, but humans are the mitigating factor.

Kayak8's avatar

If the same school allows GLBT groups, I am ok with it. If the school only allows Christian groups and does not allow GLBT affirming groups, then I am really troubled by it . . .

Mariah's avatar

@snowberry Oh okay, thanks for setting me straight. I don’t really know much of anything about Christian clubs in high schools, so I should probably learn more before criticizing. I still think, though, that it’s odd to specify, for instance, “Fellowship of Christian Athletes.” If I’m an atheist athlete, even if I’m not specifically banned from coming, I know I’m going to feel uncomfortable there and I’m going to ask, why did we have to make a Christian athletes club? Why not just an athletes club?

DominicX's avatar

I don’t think it would be much of a problem, providing that all types of groups were allowed. These things seem to only make headlines when schools don’t allow certain groups, such as a conservative Christian southern town’s high school banning an atheist alliance group. Now, like I said in the previous thread, there were no religious/atheist based groups at my high school, but there was a Republican Club and a Democrat Club and such. As long as the group is created by the students and groups with different ideologies are allowed, I don’t think it’s a problem. Now, of course, I’ve never seen this in action, so who knows? Maybe it leads to big rivalries and proselytizing and inflammatory posters, in which case, no such groups would then be allowed. But the key is keeping it all equal and not giving special preference to certain types of groups.

smilingheart1's avatar

@Mariah, I am asking this sincerely, in case you don’t see my little respectfully smiley popping up! and I am asking it here simply because I have always desired to know: given that a theist group or Christian group would hold their meetings in terms of wanting to uphold the purposes of God they felt important to their lives, what would an atheist group center around?

For example, a Christian athlete’s group may be no different from any athlete’s group except that the Christians would endorse talking of their faith and would likely pray to God in the name of Jesus – which would undoubtedly offend those who believed differently or not at all.

What would an atheist based meeting uphold which would make it stand apart from any general meeting? Would there be a distinct agenda or purpose to this meeting?

Please help me get this straight.

tinyfaery's avatar

As long as 0 of my tax dollars are used to support it, I’m fine with any kind of group in schools.

fundevogel's avatar

My only concern would be funding since the government has to maintain separation of church and state (this only applies to public schools of course). I’m not exactly sure how this would work since obviously it wouldn’t be fair if an atheist school group got public funding, but a Christian one didn’t. Maybe they would all have to be run off of bake sales? I really don’t know how funding for school groups works so I’m not sure how much of this is actually an issue.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

As long as they don’t bother me and other people, I’m all right.
I graduated from HS, but yesterday, whenever I tried to study for a huge ass geology midterm, but I was repeatedly bothered by a Christian group. I wanted to scream “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT GOD, I WANT TO LEARN ABOUT MINERALS AND SHIT”.

Blackberry's avatar

@smilingheart1 The meetings could be about anything: Meeting like-minded individuals, discussing politics, to “endorse talking of their” lack of faith etc.

Just like the christian athletes could “endorse talking of their faith and would likely pray to God in the name of Jesus”, the atheists could do the opposite, just like a Democratic club would discuss democratic issues instead of republican issues.

It’s not like atheists don’t have anything to talk about.

And lol! @Michael_Huntington

digitalimpression's avatar

I don’t see what the problem is. If a student doesn’t want to join the group they don’t have to. It’s not as if the teachers are forcing students to be in the group (which would fall under the whole separation of church and state umbrella).

I would consider it an issue if this type of grouped was not allowed. That is far more disturbing.

Mariah's avatar

@smilingheart1 As evidenced by the number of atheism-related questions on Fluther alone, there’s plenty to talk about in such a group. Instead of talking about faith, perhaps they would talk about skepticism.

Whether such groups are interesting or not isn’t even the issue – they just need to be allowed if Christian groups are allowed – otherwise there’s obvious discrimination occurring.

john65pennington's avatar

Where are the white contestants in the Miss Black America Contest????

starsofeight's avatar

I approve of religion in public high schools as much as I approve of centered student groups in public high schools. (It smacks of freedom).

smilingheart1's avatar

@Mariah, yes you gave me what I was looking for.
@Blackberry, you supersized it.

Rarebear's avatar

I think it’s fine as long as it’s done after hours. It keeps the kids out of trouble.

Buttonstc's avatar

My understanding is that the impetus for ALL of these groups comes from the students themselves so I don’t see a problem with either Atheist, GLBT,GSTA(Gay-Straight Alliance) or Christian as long as ALL are allowed.

If the individusl school chose to not allow one of these groups while the others were permitted I’d want to raise enough of a ruckus to scrap the entire thing (or allow the group being discriminated against to exist.)

If there are individual students being snotty to anyone not in a group or in a group they disagreed with then they should be dealt with as individuals. (isn’t that part of why faculty advisors are around)?

Rather than banning groups altogether, just deal with the individual jackasses no matter which groups they belong to.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Rarebear makes a point I’m in agreement with as long as it’s not funded by the general taxpayer base.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Mariah Student groups aren’t the school faculty or staff seperating the students, but the students themselves starting the separation. Like GSAs, most Christian clubs start from a couple kids just trying to meet in a classroom after school. And, while some of these groups eventually get the schools official approval, they don’t really get any money, because there isn’t money in the first place. It’s not like public schools can’t afford to fix lockers or buy new textbooks or pay teachers enough, but are using public funds to cater every GSA, Christian study group, chess club, and math nerds meetup. And while the Christian clubs can kick people out based on beliefs, that’s also true of GSAs; for example, if you don’t support gay marriage, they can kick you out. And if you don’t play chess, the chess club can kick you out. So it’s not really any more exclusionary than the rest of high school, and indeed all society.

Brian1946's avatar

I believe in the policy of the Group Nazi- “No groups for you!”. ;-)

bkcunningham's avatar

LOL @Brian1946. “You’re through, Group Nazi. Pack it up. No more group for you! Next!

TexasDude's avatar

Kids should be able to make whatever the hell kind of groups they want as long as they aren’t endorsed by the school or whatever.

I really don’t care.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

My kids think for themselves… They know everything that I know on the subject (from both sides objectively) and they make their own decisions…

Why should it be an issue?

*Other than christians on the convert can sometimes be slightly irritating at times but they know better than to bug me with that noise so…

None of my business…

breedmitch's avatar

I think they have very right to be there, but I wouldn’t allow my children to attend.

Rarebear's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Well there would have to be a little funding insofar as they might be meeting on school and need a classroom. But that cost would be negligible.

JLeslie's avatar

I prefer no groups of this sort, but if we allow them they have to be before or after school hours. What I don’t like about them is isn’t there enough cliques in high school already? I prefer children not focus on religion as a way to separate themselves from each other. It isn’t the same as a math group, or working on the school yearbook.

At the same time I have always been pretty open to the school being used after hours for community needs, even church meetings.

@smilingheart1 It doesn’t matter what the athiests talk about, it would serve as more than anything teens having a sense of belonging as a minority group.

fundevogel's avatar

@breedmitch You have to be a special kind of religious to get that involved. I was Christian in high school and I sure as shit wasn’t going anywhere near the morning prayer circle. There’s religious and then there’s religious. Those were the kids that shaved crosses into their heads when the revival hit town. No thank you.

Blackberry's avatar

@fundevogel That’s disgusting.

fundevogel's avatar

@Blackberry The cross thing? It was super weird.

Blackberry's avatar

@fundevogel Super-ultra-weird.

martianspringtime's avatar

As long as they don’t prohibit any other religious groups (or non-religious groups like an atheist group) I don’t see a problem with it.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@fundevogel @Blackberry Um, no, that’s awesome. Because it’s like having a post-it note on your head saying “seriously, you want nothing to do with me. Stay away, and your life will be better.” You don’t even have to say hi to them to find that out! Normally, you have to make some small talk, maybe hang out with someone a couple times before finding out that they’re that nutso.

Blackberry's avatar

@Aethelflaed Wow, that is correct. Great idea :)

Soupy's avatar

I think groups like this are fine, so long as they are organized and operated by students. Atheist groups are fine too. However, I don’t think these groups should be getting any sort of special funding, as the state really shouldn’t be funding any religious groups.

HungryGuy's avatar

@starsofeight – Freedom???? In America????

Joker94's avatar

Why not? There’s a group for darned near everything else.

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t see a problem with it as long as it’s not funded by taxpayer money and non-Christian or atheist groups are allowed to form, too.

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