Saturday, August 2, 2014

12 Reasons Religion Belongs at Church

I get links to articles all the time that show fallacies and I just ignore them, but sometimes, the articles are so bad and they must be answered. This article is one of them:  10 Reasons why religion should be in schools

For any U.S Citizen who understands the constitution they should immediately have bells going off in their head when they read that headline because they should know and understand the Constitution which reads:

Amendment Text 
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

"The First Amendment also includes the right to freely express one’s religion. It does so by guaranteeing every person the right to express any religious belief, or none at all, while at the same time prohibiting the government from favoring any particular religion over another. The government cannot dictate how we should act or what we should believe, especially when it comes to religion" (highlighting is my own addition). freedom of religion

The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect religious freedom, so that one religion is not forced upon the people, it protects the freedom of all people to practice their religion of choice, so when this article assumes that ONLY Christianity will be taught in schools, this is illegal, as it would force one belief system onto all the American citizens, thus invalidating the U.S. constitution.

A set of bells continues to go off, that there is an assumption that there is only one religion in America, that of Christianity, and that Americans are united in what Christianity is! For example, the Catholic church alone is composed of 23 different church branches alone.

How about the Protestants? Well, you have the Lutherans, the Pietisms who branched off the Lutherans; then there are the Anglicanisms, and the Puritan branch and the Methodist branch or the Congregationalists: From the Continental Reformed Church, there are branches named Presbyterians, Calvinism, Baptists; then there were the Ana Baptists  (but they died out because they didn't believe in sexual intercourse), Pentecosts, Holiness Movement, and Adventist Movement.  American Christian Denominations

Of course there are the Scientology, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons.  So, which one? Which type of Christianity would be taught? All of them? How about other religions? There are over 310 religions in the USA alone.  Here is a list of them:  310 Religions in USA

"It improves brain development".  He makes a non-sequitur fallacy in his first point: Herb Scribner points to a recent study that found that children raised to believe that fictional tales are real have a more difficult time telling the difference between reality and fantasy, and I quote from him, 'Believing in fiction and having a creative mind can be beneficial in brain development.'  fantasy 
Yes, I completely agree with this, but what does this have to do with teaching religion in the schools? There is no connection between being creative and teaching religion.

He goes on to point to an article on pretend play.  A non sequitur fallacy is one that does not follow logic, and that is what Herb does here. Children know the difference between fantasy and reality in pretend play. In the article he links to in pretend play, at no point do the children think they are really firefighters and try to really put out real fires. At no point do the children really try to cook on real stoves with real food. At no point do the children do the children try to drive real cars. They understand they are pretending...that is the point of their play! This is why it is called pretend play.

Pretend play improved brain development, religion doesn't, according to the articles he sites.

"It keeps kids out of trouble." Herb sites a study that shows a correlation between people in their 20's who live 7 years longer if they attend a religious organization than those who do not. The problem with this study, however, is it shows a correlation and not a causation, and as anybody who knows about research, there is a big difference between the two.

Correlation is not causation, as anyone in research will tell you. Here are a few examples of things that are correlated but there is no causation:

The more films Nicolas Cage appears in, the fewer people who die in helicopter accidents: correlation

Or how about this one, The More money the U.S spends on Science and technology, the more deaths there are by suicide:

 "Religious schools do better than public schools." Again he makes a non sequitur fallacy and makes the leap that it must be religion that is making the difference and just because religious schools are faring better, THEN we must teach religion in public schools. He sites this study to back up his claim: Religious schools So lets look at this study and look at WHY religious schools may fare better than public schools:

1. Parental involvement. I agree. In any school, public or private where parents have a higher rate of involvement, students are going to have a higher rate of success. But what does that have to do with teaching religion in public schools? Again a fallacy, teaching religion in schools has nothing to do with parental involvement and has nothing to do with getting parents to get involved with their children's education.

2. Private, religious schools get to 'choose' their student body and it is expensive, therefore the students are socio-economically-racially not diverse. Again, what does this have to do with teaching religion in public schools, who take every student and teaching religion is NOT a factor in the success of these students.

3. There was a behavioral difference between the students in the private sector and the public sector. The private sector students tended to be more respectful to the teachers, less likely to express opinions. The public sector teachers were more likely to allow expression of opinions, the class sizes tended to be larger, and teachers tended to move on to a different subject before the subject had been mastered.  Again, all things that have nothing to do with teaching religion.


"It helps kids learn more about themselves" The article he sites states that children are often too self interested. 

I agree that children need to be taught humility, openness, a sense of spirituality, self-discipline, self love, a sense of community. However, I disagree that there is only one way to teach this. I think there are many ways to teach these concepts and teaching religion in schools in not one of them. PTA, Kiwanis, community centers, are just a few of them, and yes, even churches teach these.

"It helps students learn more about themselves". The opening abstract of the article he quotes states: 
Currently, religious education at primary schools in Western Europe has evolved into a subject that seeks to support students to develop their religious identity. Religious Identity
In other words, the primary purpose of this study is to teach a religious identity, not a core identity. Religions have Sunday services to do this, this is not the purpose of schools.


"It helps Americans read more."
We are talking about children in schools, right? Then why is Herb quoting data about adults? The article he quotes from is taking data that states 41% of adults had not read a is not taking data about children. So how does putting bibles in schools going to increase the reading habits of adults? Again, he makes a non sequitur fallacy.


"It helps kids develop psychologically."  Once again, Herb makes another Non Sequitur fallacy, that kids need to believe in something greater than themselves in order to excel, therefore the only way to do that is through teaching religion in schools. He then goes on to link an article that talks about the entitlement trap and the ONLY way to avoid allowing our children to fall into it is to not neglect our children's spiritual development.

"Religious majors are more likely to be unemployed".  Again, his line of reasoning is flawed. First, children go to school to get an education in core classes and not to choose a major. They choose a major most of the time in their twenties. Second, if we start to teach to children according to what jobs are available, we will flood those job markets and actually increase the unemployment rate in those areas. We can't all be ministers, now, can we? Who would we preach to?

Also, there are many jobs that have a lower unemployment rate than religious areas...telemarketing for example has a 0% unemployment rate...should we teach telemarketing skills to all our kids in public schools? By Herbs reasoning, we should.

"It can further your education". The premise of this article has no basis in fact, there is no data to back this up, however, studying knowledge of all kinds opens the mind, and for college students, taking a college course that studies all religions, I do agree with this article on this topic: " Students who concentrate in Religious Studies gain skills in reading analytically, thinking critically, and writing fluently. Because classes are often smaller than in other disciplines"   Taking college religion classes

"It helps American business". Once again, he makes a non sequitur fallacy. The happier employers are, the better business does, and what makes employers happy? Religion, and of course, Christian religion. The problem is, both Herb AND the Washington Post make one of the biggest mistakes made when they look at research...they come to conclusions the research doesn't come to in the original data.

The research the Washington Post and Herb quote states that what makes people happy is a 'sense of meaning' and 'a sense of well being and comfort'  Both The Washington Post and Herb conclude that religion gives us both of those things, therefore religion is the meaning of happiness. What they fail to realize  is that many things in life can give us a sense of meaning and well being and comfort in life and it can be different for different people. It may be religion for some people, but it may not for others. It may be serving in the Kiwanis for some, it may be relaxing at home for others, it may be vacationing with family for some. You see, seeking happiness is so vast and different, it cannot possibly be the same for every person.

Allowing people the freedom to seek their own path is what is best for business.

"It can knock down depression". There is a link to having social connections and lowering depression. However, there are many studies that show religion increases depression:  religious people more depressed

The state of Utah, which has the highest rate of church attendance, also has the highest rate of anti-depressant use:  Utah leads nation in anti-depressants

There are many ways to get social needs met, and kids in school get lots of social time at recess, so again it is a fallacy to assume teaching religion in schools will increase social connections.

Kids are often exposed to girls scouts, boy scouts, karate, gymnastics, and many other classes where they have the opportunity to connect socially.

Teaching religion in schools is just illegal. I hope we keep religion where it belongs, in churches.

seeks to support students to develop their religious identity.

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