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GUST (Gwinnett: Understanding Secular Truths) Message Board › Son's public school kindergarten thanksgiving presentation & religious BS

Son's public school kindergarten thanksgiving presentation & religious BS

Chris J.
user 3244296
Conyers, GA
Post #: 24

Your perspectives would be valuable to me. My son is in Kindergarten in a Newton County public school, and tonight was the annual Thanksgiving performance -- kids are dressed in in various seasonal outfits and lined up on stage to sing a series of songs for the parents. I was more than a little surprised when two of the songs had several "God" references and one had an "Amen". I guess I saw it heading that way when early emphasis in the story narrative was on a "minister" basically concocting the whole Thanksgiving holiday (so the presentation made it out).

Anyway, I'm really annoyed that a public school had my kid singing about God and such. I didn't expect to be seeing this in just his first few months of school. A few days ago he started emphatically saying "Bless you" to me when I sneezed as if he's been instructed that this is what he is to do when someone sneezes. It all really makes me wonder how much religious content he is being exposed to in school, and I'm not so thinking in terms of from other students as I am from the teachers themselves. I'm livid over the thought that maybe they're just freely exposing him to religious dogma.

I really didn't want to find myself in an adversarial relationship with the school, but this concerns me. Have any of you run into this? What did you do? What was the outcome? If I do go have a talk with the principal, what sort of outcome is likely and am I jeopardizing my son's chances at being treated fairly by his teachers? I'm already at a bit of a disadvantage as he has Sensory Integration Disorder and needs specialized consideration in how the teachers deal with him. It was a struggle to get them to stop blindly following the script and deal with him as recommended by our medical practitioners. I don't really want him to be made miserable as a result of my effort to persuade the school to actually follow the law with regard to separation of church and state, but I'd rather not have my impressionable 5 year old indoctrinated any more than necessary.

Your thoughts on this are greatly appreciated!!

user 31462332
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 1
Not a parent here, but speaking from a younger person's perspective:
When I was in grade school, none of us thought of "Bless you" in a religious perspective; it was just the polite thing to say when someone sneezed. Once we got to be about in fifth grade or so, everyone knew that the saying originated in the Middle Ages when the populace though that your soul left your body when you sneezed.
I grew up in a secular household and was given the opportunity to formulate my own opinions about religion when faced with all of the religiosity in public schools. In middle school, I voiced my concerns about saying the pledge [at that point it was a daily requirement], since it included the lines "under God." I was given the option to stand and pay my respect to my country or just omit the two lines.
I would not be terribly concerned that your child is going to "become religious" solely to exposure in schools. At that age, I doubt that he actually thinks about what he's saying. Parroting back religious ideas is not the same as belief. At some point, he might even want to go to a church or youth group just to "fit in." I certainly did even though I was quite firm in my atheism.
If you truly want to change something, have a private meeting with the principal of the school and discuss your concerns with that person. Make it known that you prefer to remain anonymous and that you hope it will not in anyway jeopardize your son's relationship with his teachers/peers.
I would also suggest being forward with your child and talking to him; he will probably appreciate it.
Good luck, and I hope this helps!
user 7132616
Lawrenceville, GA
Post #: 115
I greatly admire those who speak up. But I understand why people don't and can't . If you can take the heat and feel good about it, it might be the right thing for you. It may make it better for others similarly situated or those who come along later. But you likely will have to pay a price.

I think Caila gives good advice, but I'm not so sure about your ability to have a "confidential" discussion with the principal. Small town southern schools are hotbeds of shared confidences from my experience.

Depending on the principal it could go a lot of ways. It's possible, but unlikely she/he will respect your concerns and discretely intervene to correct the situation. It's more likely you'll meet defensiveness and maybe incredulity. You'll have no guarantee that the principal will keep your concerns private and it is likely many teachers would look differently at your child.

Like Calia says, it's probably way more important what you teach your child than what they pick up at school. We've always taught our children that authority figures are not always 100% right. That's not a bad lesson to learn. We have not challenged the religious status quo directly. I don't feel that it ever harmed our children. We all should help change the world, but the burden should not be on a struggling kindergartner in particular or most children in general.

Victoria Hall C.
user 14618800
Flowery Branch, GA
Post #: 1
Our daughters are in high school now and I am horrified at how much religion is forced their way. There was a prayer at the 8th grade breakfast that started out "heavenly father". In chorus they sing songs about god and jesus. The last concert was in a church instead of the auditorium. In language arts class they used the bible as their literature and had to find scripture to relate to their writings. I spoke with the teacher but was met with heavy resistance. One teacher wrote religious nonsense in my daughters yearbook. We spoke to the principal and got a new yearbook. I want to stand up and make this all go away but I can't be "that parent" for my daughters sakes. So we grin and bear it. We say you don't have to believe the words you are singing or reading. Just think of them as works of art.
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