Instead of Prayer in School, Let’s Teach Evolution in Church

Walter Rhein
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

The mainstream media is often criticized for failing to present both sides of an issue. In order for individuals to make educated opinions, they must weigh and evaluate relevant arguments and counter-arguments. When the media fails to emphasize both sides of an issue fairly, it risks sliding down the slippery slope from news reporting to manipulative propaganda.

The media often prints stories discussing whether religion should be taught in public schools. However, the counter-argument as to whether churches should be required to teach science is never given true consideration.

Some might consider that proposal to be disrespectful, but that argument is a non-starter. If it is disrespectful to discuss whether churches should teach evolution, then, by extension, it is also disrespectful to discuss whether schools should teach religion. To arrive at such a conclusion would result in widespread embarrassment for all the respected individuals who have dedicated their personal energy to that cause.

Evolution is certainly not banned from church just as religion is not banned from school. There is no legal entity that will strip a scientific pamphlet from your fingers in the pews, just as none exists to stop you from reading a Bible at school (provided you’ve finished your other work first). Prayer is also allowed at school. There is no mechanism to stop devout people from inclining their heads to indulge in silent prayer at any moment they wish.

The only prohibition regarding religion at schools is to prevent the obligation of prayer for those who do not wish to participate. Although people bristle at this restriction, they fail to recognize how such a stipulation respects rather than persecutes their own faith. The restriction ensures no student will be forced to speak words of worship to a god that is not his or her own (most religious texts have pretty extreme consequences for that kind of thing).

But even with this established practice, efforts have made to slip the discussion of God into our public institutions. As much as certain groups like to claim they respect the wishes of the founding fathers above all things, it’s remarkable how often those wishes have been subjugated. For example, the choice of the founding fathers for the motto of our country was ‘E Pluribus Unum’ which is Latin for ‘Out of many, one.’ This was the motto of the US from 1782 to 1956 when Congress changed the motto to ‘In God We Trust.’ Around this same time they slipped ‘under God’ into the Pledge.

In contrast, there have been no efforts from the scientific community to attempt to insert scientific phrases or concepts into Bibles or churches.

Separation of church and state is a fundamental concept in our government, but there are frequent efforts to erode this idea with attempts to introduce church into state. However, these efforts seem to be made without the awareness that they also set the precedent for inserting state into church.

It’s a good idea to practice the mental exercise of looking at the world from the perspective of others. If you find yourself recoiling at the idea of any entity requiring churches to teach evolution, it should give you an idea how the other side feels at suggestions that religion should be taught at school. Perhaps the founding fathers were onto something. Maybe in the interest of social harmony, we should engage in the practice of being grateful for what we already have? Such a consideration might provide us with a renewed appreciation of the conservative, and high successful, tradition of separating church and state.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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